Canon-McMillan slips past South Fayette

(Pictured: The Big Macs go in for a huddle)
Posted On: Monday, September 26, 2022

(This article was written and released by Joe Smeltzer of the Observer-Reporter. The original article can be found here.)

McDONALD — Moral victories don’t exist at South Fayette.

A program with two state championships over the past decade doesn’t accept losing, especially since Joe Rossi was the coach then and is still the coach now.

With that said, there were certainly positives to take away from South Fayette’s 21-17 non-conference loss to Canon-McMillan at South Fayette Stadium Friday night.

South Fayette (2-3) hosted a formidable 6A program, and had a chance to win the game in the final minutes.

“The kids fought their (butts) off,” Rossi said.

“At the end of the day, (Canon-Mac) made one more play than we did.”

Though the win is the most important thing, Canon-Mac coach Mike Evans knows his team has a lot to work on.

The Big Macs were sloppy at times and ended the night with eight penalties for 61 yards.

“Penalties, we’re not fielding kickoffs,” Evans said. “There’s so many things we’re not doing right.”

Canon Mac’s first penalty came on the game’s opening kickoff.

Once the offense took the field, the Big Macs moved the ball, driving yards on 15 plays in 8:46.

The problem was, they didn’t score.

The Big Macs drove the ball to South Fayette’s 3-yard line, but receiver Austyn Winkleblech dropped a pass in the end zone, and Canon-Mac turned the ball over on downs.

Winkleblech recovered to finish the night with five catches for 88 yards and a touchdown.

After the turnover on downs, Canon-Mac’s defense stepped up and got a safety two plays into South Fayette’s first drive. Kent McMahon tackled South Fayette quarterback Nico Lamonde in the end zone for a 1-yard loss

Canon-Mac’s offense cashed in on its next possession, with a little help from South Fayette.

On a fourth-and-5 from South Fayette’s 15, an incomplete pass turned into a first down thanks to a pass interference penalty.

The Big Macs took advantage of their new life, and Winkleblech atoned for his earlier drop and hauled in a 10-yard pass from QB Mike Evans, the head coach’s son.

The extra point put Canon-Mac ahead by two scores.

But the Lions roared back with two touchdowns in the last 1:11.

South Fayette scored its first points on a 13-yard pass from Lamonde to Nate Deanes.

On its next possession, South Fayette took the lead on a 62-yard pass from Lamonde to Aiden Martincic.

“Credit South Fayette,” Evans said. “I mean, I have no idea how they got the lead at the end of the second quarter. A couple nice play calls.”

Lamonde finished the night hitting 17 of 24 for 200 yards and the two touchdown passes.

Canon-Mac retook the lead on its first possession of the third quarter, scoring on a 33-yard run by Jake Kasper.

Kasper led Canon Mac with 177 yards on 32 carries and two touchdowns, both in the second half.

Evans is proud of Kasper for how he responded after a first half that could have gone better.

“We challenged him in the second half,” Evans said. “We thought he was trying to pick his way a little too much in the first half, and Jake’s not a big kid. He has a lot of courage. He runs hard, but he wasn’t running like himself. And he really answered that.”

South Fayette answered later in the quarter on a 31-yard field goal by Tyler Nicholson.

But Kasper struck again, going for his second touchdown— a 13-yard scamper— to give Canon-Mac back the lead, 21-17.

That’s how the game ended up.

Canon-Mac returns to 6A next Friday at 7, hosting Central Catholic for Senior Night. South Fayette hosts Moon at the same time.

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