Prospect turns to Walter at QB, dumps Jacobs in 7A quarterfinal
Prospect's Owen Walter took a crash course in Quarterback 101 this past week. And after his performance Saturday in the Class 7A quarterfinals, the senior earned an A-plus.
Walter directed a ground-oriented Prospect offense that moved the ball and controlled the clock. The 11th-seeded Knights used that and a attacking defense to beat 19th-seeded Jacobs 35-21.
"The O-line and everyone had trust in me," said Walter, who had 19 carries for 137 yards. "(Coach Dan) DeBeouf had trust in me. I was freaking out Monday and it was super difficult. It got easier and everyone was here to help me."
DeBeouf said that Walter picked things up quickly.
"We had a whole new offense this week," DeBeouf said. "Owen is all heart and a team-first guy. He learned how to play quarterback in three days and obviously played real well tonight."
Prospect (10-2), is making it first semifinal appearance since 2006. The Knights will play at 10th-seeded St. Rita next week. St. Rita (10-2) beat second-seeded Hononegah 36-16 Saturday.
Prospect got off to an incredibly fast start, scoring 2 touchdowns less than a minute into the game.
The Knights scored on the third play from scrimmage when Matthew Raitano (13 carries, 99 yards) broke off a 56-yard run right up the middle. Prospect opted for a trick play on the conversion and Jake Parisi took a direct snap and ran for 2 points and an 8-0 lead.
"When I saw that I was so happy," Walter said. "I told the guys in the huddle that we are scoring here. Then three plays later I saw the back of Raitano, number 44, running to the end zone."
On the first play from scrimmage, the interior of the Prospect defensive line forced a fumble. An opportunistic Charlie Carroll scooped up the loose ball and ran 14 yards for a 15-0 lead.
"I came free off the line," Carroll said. "I picked it up and saw nobody behind me. It was awesome and surreal. There was nothing like it."
After a defensive stop and short punt, Prospect was back in business. When the Knights drive stalled Ben Sahakian added a 33-yard field goal to increase the lead to 18-0 with 7:15 left in the first quarter.
Jacobs (8-4) nearly used up the balance of the quarter to get its offense back on track. The Golden Eagles went 80 yards in 15 plays with Nasir Canty scoring on. 4-yard run to make it 18-7.
Sahakian would add a 40-yard field goal in the second quarter to make it 21-7 Prospect. The Knights then were able to increase their lead just before the end of the half.
After Jacobs fumbled the snap on the punt, a subsequent incomplete pass gave Prospect the ball at the 24-yard line. Two plays later, Bradley Vierneisel, came off the bench and hooked up with Gavin Flanagan on a swing pass to the left side for a 20-yard touchdown and a 28-7 halftime lead.
Jacobs tried to rally to get back into the game. Ben Ludlum scored for the Golden Eagles on the first series of the second half on a 4-yard run to cut the lead to 28-14.
After a defensive stop, Jacobs was driving again. But an errant pass was tipped and Prospect's Nick Grassano caught it at the Jacobs 40 and returned it for a touchdown and a 35-14 lead.
"I saw the ball and it was tipped," Grassano said. "We run that drill in practice all the time. After I caught it, I saw open space and saw blockers and ran to the sideline and got to the end zone."
Jacobs got a late touchdown from Canty on a 5-yard run to make it 35-21. But the Eagles' onside kick went out of bounds and Prospect ran out the clock.
"I am proud of our kids," Jacobs coach Brian Zimmerman said. "We were picked to go 3-6 and I think we exceeded everyone's expectations. Things didn't go our way and turnovers killed us. But we felt we could still be in this. Give credit to their defense, they stuck it to us."
The Prospect defense, led by Carroll, Grassano, John Gavin, Sahakian, Parisi and Peyton Burgh forced 3 turnovers and held Jacobs' running attack to 163 yards.
"Our defense was incredible per usual," DeBeouf said. "They have had a great year. We will keep leaning on them and hopefully we can get one more."