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KANE â€“Â With 36 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Kane was down 13-6 and was facing fourth and long from about the 26-yard-line. With a chance to tie the game, quarterback Sean Jordan put nice pass into the endzone; however, Elk Catholic's Pat Brennen was the player on the receiving end of that pass, sealing the Crusader victor with the interception.
"Pat's doing a nice job. All of our secondary guys are doing a nice job this year. They're tackling well. They're bending a little bit but they're not breaking. They're not giving up the deep ball, so it was nice to see Pat come down with that one," said ECC coach Travis Skrzypek.
"Coming into this game we had to realize the AML South is pretty tight at the top. Both teams were coming out hard. I thought Kane played a great game tonight. They're well-coached, disciplined kids and they came at us hard. They kind of stopped the run and we found some success with the pass tonight," Skrzypek added.
Both of Elk Catholic's touchdowns came on pass plays by quarterback Mitchell Vallone, who was also celebrating his 17th birthday.
"Mitchell threw the ball well,"Skrzypek said. "[We had] big plays on offense tonight. We didn't really get a drive going until the end. We had to punch one in and they were able to stall us out."
ECC was led on the ground by Cole Gerber, who had 65 yards on 15 carries. Brock McCullough added 26 yards on 10 carries.
Vallone was 6-of-11 for 95 yards.
Devin Constable caught one touchdown pass for 26 yards and Joe McLaughlin reeled in a touchdown pass for 44 yards. Montana Schneider, who was also celebrating a birthday on Friday, caught one pass for 12 yards.
"Joe McLaughlin played an awesome game inside," Skrzypek said. "He really came to play. [He] hits hard and isn't out of position too much. He's doing a nice job at linebacker. Cole Gerber as well. Cole Gerber put some heat on their quarterback on their last drive there."
The Wolves were led on the ground by Johan Smith, who had 66 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Tyler Burdick added 60 yards on 11 carries.
Kane quarterback Sean Jordan was 13-of-21 for 113 yards.
Sean Rolick caught three passes for 35 yards while Smith had two catches for 33 yards.
For the Crusader defense, Brennen and Gerber both had interceptions.
Prior to the start of the game, a brief ceremony was held honoring SSgt Ken VanGiesen. VanGiesen was a Kane native who was killed in action earlier this year in Afghanistan while serving in the Army National Guard. A former player for the Kane Wolves, VanGiesen's number 63 was retired during the ceremony.
"That was pretty awesome for them to do that," Skrzypek said of the ceremony. "The guys really have to respect what our soldiers do for us, and [VanGiesen] made the ultimate sacrifice. [Serving in our military is] something awesome that people do for us and we have to thank them."
The Wolves won the coin toss and elected to defer until the second half.
After getting nowhere on their first drive, the Crusaders were forced to punt the ball away. The Wolves looked to have things going in their favor as they began their drive; however, Jordan's pass was picked off by ECC's Cole Gerber, handing the ball back to the Crusaders at Kane's 26-yard-line. Two plays later the Crusaders got on the board for the first time as Vallone connected with Devin Constable for a 26-yard-pass play. Scott Krellner added the PAT, giving ECC a 7-0 lead with 7:23 remaining in the first quarter.
Kane started their only scoring drive at the end of the first quarter and carried it over into the second, as they took 11 plays to drive about 80 yards for the score on a 14-yard run by Smith. The PAT failed, leaving the Crusaders with a 7-6 advantage with 10:12 remaining in the half.
After the two teams traded punts, the Crusaders started their next drive at their own 38-yard-line. McCullough picked up 18 yards on the ground before Vallone connected with McLaughlin for a 44-yard pass play for a touchdown. The PAT failed, making the score 13-6 with 3:49 remaining in the half.
While both teams gave it their best effort, neither would find the endzone for the remainder of the game.
Both teams would come close to scoring again though.
The Crusaders tried to get back into the endzone one more time before the end of the half after taking the ball over at Kane's 10-yard-line on a fumble recovery by McLaughlin. Vallone hit Schneider for a 12-yard gain on fourth down, but Kane's defense was able to stop him just shy of the goal line.
On their first drive of the third quarter, the Wolves made it all the way to ECC's 1-yard-line, but the Crusaders put up some excellent defense to keep them out of the endzone. That drive ended when McLaughlin sacked Jordan for a loss on fourth down.
"I can't say enough about the defense in the third quarter stop. I think they had eight plays down there and the guys held tight, kept with it and believed in one another and got the big stop there at the end of that quarter," Skrzypek said.
The Wolves tried again to score on their final drive, using 12 plays to go almost 60 yards before Brennen intercepted Jordan's fourth down pass in the endzone.
Vallone took a knee to end the game and give ECC the 13-6 victory.
With the win, Elk Catholic is now 5-1 on the season and 5-1 in the Allegheny Mountain League.
The Crusaders will return to action on Friday when they travel to Brockway for a 7:30 p.m. game.