Scranton Prep gets the big W over Neumann-Goretti, advances to PIAA 3A Quarterfinals

Tagged under: District 12, District 2, Gameday Hub, News, pfn, Playoffs

Jared Samuel | November 18, 2023

Neumann-Goretti entered the matchup at 10-1 as the District 12 3A champs. Scranton Prep came in also at 10-1 as the District 2 3A champs. There was a lot riding on this game, aside from advancing in the PIAA State Playoffs: this was a playoff rematch from last season. In a hotly contested match last November, the Saints held off a final deep drive from the Cavaliers to win it 22-14. During warmups, you could tell how much each team wanted this one and the hype was real. This game couldn’t possibly be better than last year’s matchup, right?

It was.

Scranton Prep overcame a trying first half of field position battles and the Cavalier defense came up big when it needed to, as they held on to defeat Neumann Goretti 23-16 at Northern Lehigh Stadium in Slatington.

The Cavaliers won the coin toss and elected to receive. WR Treyvon Dickey had a nice return to the Prep 41. QB Louis Paris had command of the offense on the initial drive and he started with a quick screen pass to WR Liam Barrett for 5 yards. Paris then gained 3 on the keeper and Dickey ran it for 3 more on 3rd down to gain the 1st down at the Saints 48. After a throw to WR Jalonte Weeks for no gain, Paris hit Barrett again for 10 yards. Dickey, Paris and RB Quinten Palermo ran it 3 straight times for a total of 14 yards to the Saints 24. Paris then hit WR A.J. Croom for 5 yards, but on 3rd and 3 from the 18 it was Barrett on the reverse that was stopped a yard short of the 1st. Paris called his own number and gained 4 tough yards on the ground for the 1st down at the Saints 12. After Palermo was stopped for no gain, Paris capped the drive as he threw it to TE Andrew Summa for a 12-yard TD. With 5:00 left in the 1st quarter, Prep took the lead 7-0.

The Saints started their first drive at their own 38. RB Terrence Page started things on the ground with 4 straight runs for a total of 14 yards down to the Prep 48. After an incomplete pass on 2nd and 8, QB Mehki Wharton scrambled under pressure but gained 7 yards. On 4th and 1 from the Prep 41, Wharton appeared to be stopped short of the line to gain but it was ruled a 1st down. The Cavalier sideline erupted and a sideline warning was issued. Page ran it for 4 yards, and after an incomplete pass he ran it again for 4 more yards to make it 4th and 2 from the Prep 32 as the 1st quarter ended. Beginning the 2nd quarter, Prep jumped offsides and gave the Saints a new set of downs at the 27. Page then took the pitch but was hit immediately by the Cavaliers’ Summa for a loss of 2. Wharton then hit WR Khari Reid for 5 yards to make it 3rd and 7 at the 24. Page ran it again but was hammered quickly by Barrett for a gain of only 1 yard. Wharton then threw a screen pass to Reid but multiple Cavalier defenders were there to stop it for a loss of 7 and a turnover on downs.

Starting at the Prep 30, Paris had 2 runs for 6 total yards but on 3rd down a gusty wind aided a bad snap and Paris dove on it for a loss of 5 and Prep had to punt it away. The punt was poor, netting only 11 yards to the Prep 43 and putting the Cavalier defense in a bad spot.

The Saints had a nice run by RB Amahj Gowens that was aided by a penalty on Prep, and the net result was a 1st down at the Prep 25. After a Wharton keeper for a loss of 1, Page ran it for 4 yards and Wharton scrambled for 5 yards to make it 4th and 1 at the Prep 17. After a lengthy injury delay, Prep again jumped offsides and gave the Saints a 1st down at the Prep 12. Wharton then threw it to Reid again but Barrett made a great hit to hold the gain to only 4 yards. Page then ran it for 5 to make it 1st and goal at the 1, and he finished the drive on the next play with a 1-yard scoring run. Wharton threw it to Reid for the 2-point conversion and with 5:48 left in the half it was the Saints taking the lead 8-7.

Lining up to kick it off, the Saints successfully executed an onsides kick and recovered the ball at the Prep 49. Unfortunately, the Saint offense was stymied by the Prep defense who forced a 3-and-out. Prep however could not get anything going on offense either, and another bad punt by the Cavaliers gave the Saints great field position at the Prep 40. Wharton threw it to TE Karmon Bambara for 15 yards to the Prep 25, and on the next play Wharton hit Reid for a 25-yard TD. Wharton then hit Gowens for the 2-point conversion and with 1:55 to go in the half the Saints increased their lead 16-7.

Prep took possession at their own 31. Paris hit Barrett for 7 yards, but was under constant pressure and then threw 2 straight incomplete passes to force another punt. This time the punt was a good one, rolling down to the Saints 20 yard line. With only seconds left in the half, Neumann-Goretti ran 2 short running plays and it was halftime.

The Saints took the 2nd half kickoff and got a nice return by RB Braheem Jefferson to their own 44. On the first play of the 2nd half, Wharton went for it all and threw it deep down the middle where Prep’s Barrett made a great read on the ball and intercepted it at the Prep 20, returning it 13 yards to the 33. Unfortunately, the Saint defense kept up the pressure and forced another 3-and-out after a gain of only 8 yards by the Cavaliers.

The Saints next drive started at their own 37, and it was a whole lot of RB Makhi Mitchell as he had 5 straight runs for a total of 13 yards. On 3rd and 9 from the 50, a pass from Wharton was nearly intercepted by Weeks but fell incomplete and forced a punt. Unfortunately, the Cavaliers could still not get any momentum on offense and had another 3-and-out. With the Saints getting good field position at the Prep 43, the Cavaliers began playing inspired defense. Mitchell had 2 runs for 9 yards but was hit hard every time he touched the ball. Wharton had a short run on 3rd and 10 from the 22 but a holding call pushed the Saints back further for a 3rd and 20 from the 44. Wharton then lateralled it to Reid but Prep was ready and hit him for a loss of 5 yards and forced a punt.

From the Cavalier 31, Paris began the next drive hitting Barrett for 9 yards and a 1-yard run by Dickey got the 1st down. But as the 3rd quarter was ending, Paris was sacked by Saints LB Daniel Adefolarin for a loss of 8 yards. Starting the final quarter with a 3rd and 18 from the Cavalier 33, Paris threw a perfect pass in stride to Barrett who took it 67 yards to the house. With 11:46 left in the game, Prep cut the lead down to 16-14.

As the Saints started their next drive at their own 20, the Cavaliers continued to play a hyped-up defense. Mitchell ran it for 4 yards but Summa hit him hard. Mitchell took it again on the next play and Summa was right there to drop him for no gain. After a delay of game penalty on the Saints, Wharton threw it for Bambara but Prep’s Barrett was right there and defended it, knocking the ball down and incomplete to force a punt. The Saints also took a turn of bad luck in the punting game, netting only 6 yards to their own 25.

Unfortunately, disaster struck for the Cavaliers just as they were gaining momentum on offense, Palermo ran it for 6 yards to the 19, but on the next play he fumbled and the Saints recovered at their 23. The disaster then shifted to the Saints.  Gowens ran but was hit for a 1-yard loss.  Page re-entered the game and ran it for 3 yards, but on 3rd down a pass intended for Bambara broken up by Weeks to force a punt. On the punt attempt, a bad snap sent the ball into the end zone where LB Aiden Britton tackled the Saints punter in the end zone for a safety that tied the game at 16 with 7:08.

With the Prep sideline still buzzing from the turn of events, they took possession from the ensuing free kick in great position at the Saints 41 yard line. Atoning for his fumble, Palermo ran it for 4 yards and on the very next play he broke a 38-yard TD run to give Prep the lead again at 23-16 with 6:19 left in the game.

With time starting to run short, the Saints took possession at their own 22. Wharton was under pressure immediately but managed to scramble for 18 yards to the 40. Mitchell ran it twice for a total of 8 yards but his 3rd straight attempt was met by a host of Cavalier defenders for no gain. On 4th and 2 from the 47, Wharton gained 5 yards on the keeper and got the 1st down. Mitchell lost 3 yards back to the Saints 49 and a false start pushed the offense back to the 44. A deep pass was well defended by the Cavalier secondary to force a 4th down, but Wharton then hit WR Salvatore Fusco for a big 21-yard gain to the Prep 35. The Saints then moved quickly as Wharton used a variety of targets to gain yardage down to the 24. With 21 seconds to go and a 3rd and 10, an incomplete pass to Fusco drew a personal foul penalty against Prep and made it 1st and 10 at the 13 with only 14 seconds left. Wharton threw it into the end zone but the pass was intercepted by DB Jack Doughton to seal the win for the Cavaliers.

DB Jack Doughton with the pick to seal it for Scranton Prep. Final 23-16@PaFootballNews @BPtashinski @CCHastings1863 @PFNDan570FB @sasimagerypfn @NEPAYinzer

— Jared Samuel (@jaredsamuelpfn) November 18, 2023

After the game, Coach Terry Gallagher talked to his team after the hard fought victory, talking about teamwork: “It’s about relationships and what we do for each other, picking each other up and carrying each other.” With the win, Scranton Prep advanced in the PIAA State Playoffs and will play Northwestern Lehigh.

Check out the photos from the game here:

Click here to check out our updated playoff brackets

Follow PA Football News on Twitter @PaFootballNews


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