HERSHEY, Pa. (AP) — Quarterback Chris Martin threw for a Class AAAA-championship record three touchdowns Sunday night to lead Philadelphia power St. Joseph’s Prep to a 35-10 win over Pittsburgh Central Catholic and its first PIAA football title at Hersheypark Stadium.
Martin finished with 192 passing yards and the Hawks limited three-time state champion Central Catholic to less than 250 total yards of offense. Martin had two long TD passes in the second half as the Prep scored 28 unanswered points to seal the win.
It is St. Joseph’s Prep’s first Class AAAA title.
Vikings quarterback and Florida State recruit JJ Cosentino completed one pass before leaving in the third quarter with a leg injury. Central Catholic was just 1 of 12 on third-down conversions and finished the season at 15-1.
“It’s amazing, the way we started the season with not a lot of seniors,” said Martin, a 5-foot-10 senior who completed 18 of 25 attempts. “A lot of people doubted us, but to come here and finish No. 1 in the state is just unbelievable.”
The Vikings used Cosentino’s 1-yard plunge and Mitchell MacZura 29-yard field goal late in the second quarter to build a 10-7 advantage at intermission.
But Prep linebacker Ryan McNulty and linemen Jake Strain, two defensive standouts, helped turn back Central Catholic’s opening series after the break.
Martin made the most of his first chance in the second half, finding John Reid for a 59-yard scoring strike that put the Hawks ahead for good. The Prep pushed its lead to 21-10 just seconds into the fourth when Joe DuMond grabbed a perfectly executed back screen from Martin and raced 14 yards for a score with 11:51 remaining.
The seven-play, 80-yard drive was extended by an ill-timed personal foul call on Central Catholic linebacker Niko Thorpe.
“They just came out and took the momentum away from us in that first series, and they didn’t give it back,” Vikings head coach Terry Totten said. “Then we got a penalty and had a couple of injuries that added to the momentum that they created.”
Central Catholic’s comeback bid was hampered by the losses of Cosentino and top rusher Luigi Lista-Brinza, who missed three drives with a leg injury down the stretch. Lista-Brinza finished with 129 yards on 22 carries.
“We did it week in and week out. Our defense bowed up and didn’t break when it counted most,” said Prep coach Gabe Infante, who interrupted his postgame celebration with field a call from Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. “I’m very proud of those kids. We played our game. We did what we do. We played great competition this season and that competition prepared us for this game.”
Pittsburgh CC-St. Joseph’s Prep stats
PIAA Class AAAA Championship
St. Joseph’s Prep 35, Pittsburgh C.C. 10
Pittsburgh C.C. 7 3 0 0 0 – 10
St. Joseph’s Prep 7 0 7 21 – 35
SJP-Vince Moffett 27 pass from Chris Martin (Pat Walsh kick), 3:24
PCC-JJ Cosentino 1 run (Mitchell MacZura kick), 1:06
PCC-FG MacZura 29, 4:58
SJP-John Reid 59 pass from Martin (Walsh kick), 9:37
SJP-Joe DuMond 14 pass from Martin (Walsh kick), 11:51
SJP-De’Andre Scott 35 run (Walsh kick), 5:58
SJP-Moffett 16 run (Walsh kick), 4:35
Team Statistics PCC SJP
First downs 12 17
Rushes-yards 45-191 28-125
Passing yards 49 192
Att-Comp-Int 3-9-0 13-21-2
Punts-avg. 5-33.2 4-39.0
Fumble-lost 3-2 2-1
Penalties-yards 6-47 9-50
Rushing – Central Catholic, Luigi Lista-Brinza 22-129, Riley Redman 9-56, Devin Faloon 5-18, Cam Sutherland 1-18, JJ Cosentino 4-(minus-4), Graham Adomitis 4-(minus-16); St. Joseph’s Prep, De’Andre Swift 7-68, Olamide Zaccheaus 10-22, Vince Moffett 3-18, Chris Martin 6-10, Dillon DeIuliis 1-4, John Reid 1-3.
Passing – Central Catholic, Cosentino 1-4-0_7, Adomitis 2-5-0_42; St. Joseph’s Prep, Martin 13-21-2_192.
Receiving – Central Catholic, Lista-Brinza 2-19, Darnell Clemm 1-30; St. Joseph’s Prep, Reid 4-83, Zaccheaus 3-37, Moffett 3-33, DeIuliis 1-17, DuMond 1-14, Swift 1-8.
NOTES: Two-way standout Vince Moffett, who hauled in Martin’s first TD pass, good for 26 yards, capped the scoring with a 16-yard touchdown run with 4:35 to play. … The Hawks picked up four sacks and recovered a pair of Central Catholic fumbles. … The title game and the Class AA championship were postponed on Saturday due to inclement weather.