Sunday September 26, 2021 | 22:31
He scored the tying touchdown with less than five minutes to go, then ran 40 yards for the winning touchdown with less than 10 seconds to play in a battle between the top two WPIAL Class 4A teams.
Belle Vernon’s senior quarterback Devin Whitlock may not be going to Disney World, but he’s the Trib HSSN Player of the Week.
Whitlock scored twice in the last five minutes to help his Leopards eliminate defending champion Thomas Jefferson, 28-21, in Week 4 in front of a standing crowd at Belle Vernon.
“Every win is a big win, but it was special on a stage like this,” Belle Vernon coach Matt Humbert said. “Devin was the piston that started the engine, but there were a lot of unsung heroes from that game who helped.”
Humbert said he wasn’t expecting it, but it wasn’t shocked when Whitlock ran for 40 yards with the game-winning scoreline with just 4 seconds left as the game looked to be heading into extra time.
“I was convinced he was the number we were calling in this situation,” Humbert said. “We wanted to take every chance to win in settlement. We tried to spread them out and use his explosiveness.
The game was filled with big plays for Belle Vernon with various stars shining in both halves.
Second-year sensation Quinton Martin scored twice in the first half on a 50-yard run and an 87-yard kickoff return. However, at the start of the second half he was injured and carried off the pitch. Martin will have an MRI on Tuesday.
“He feels great though,” Humbert said.
It was then that Whitlock became the main actor in this scintillating story for the Leopards.
Most of his 163 rushing yards and two touchdowns came in the second half.
“He has taken a giant step forward,” Humbert said. “The same goes for our running back and our full-back. They never skipped a beat.
Whitlock only threw for 44 yards against Thomas Jefferson, but he’s thrown for 444 yards and three touchdowns this season. He also leads the ground team with 532 yards and has nine touchdowns.
“He’s a double threat and throws really well,” Humbert said. “His strengths are his elusiveness, his tenacity and his calm, cold determination.”
Whitlock may have to take the charge again in Week 5 when another undefeated foe from Class 4A Big Eight Conference arrives in Belle Vernon as the Leopards take on Laurel Highlands.
“Beyond the excitement of welcoming the ‘Stangs to the beach,’ Humbert said, referring to his stadium’s nickname due to the golden turf.“ We are blessed to play another meaningful game against a record team Our kids are really motivated to play them and especially (Rodney) Gallagher We have another opportunity to protect the beach.
WPIAL Week 4 Honorable Mentions
Gannon Carothers – Central Catholic
Call him what you want, the work horse or the bell cow, Gannon Carothers was all that and more on Friday. He may not be a farm boy, but he was working hard in North Allegheny for Central Catholic in week 4.
In a first class 6A showdown and 2020 Final rematch against North Allegheny, Carothers carried the ball 33 times for the Vikings, crushing 164 yards to the ground.
The senior also scored on 8 and 3-yard touchdowns in the first half as the visiting Vikings again knocked down the Tigers, 24-7, to stay tied for first place heading into Week 5.
Robbie Labuda – Mt. Pleasant
After losing back-to-back games in which they scored just six points in total, Mt. Pleasant needed an offensive spark ahead of its Class 3A interstate conference opener on Friday.
Luckily for the Vikings, junior backer Robbie Labuda brought his torch to the game against visiting Southmoreland.
Labuda rushed for 193 yards and scored bookend touchdowns on 5- and 20-yard runs, plus he caught a 17-yard pass from junior quarterback Tyler Reese as the Vikings beat the Scotties. , 34-7.
Damani Stafford – California
In case you missed it, a heavyweight back battle erupted in the Class A Three County Southern Conference game between California and Mapletown, and it produced a thriller.
As Maples junior running back Landan Stevenson struck early on a 59-yard rush and ended up with impressive stats of 261 rushing yards and three touchdowns, it was Trojans senior Damani Stafford who also had some awesome numbers and left with his arms raised.
Stafford rushed for 208 yards and scored four touchdowns on carries of 2, 14, 4 and the winning score of 11 yards with four minutes remaining as California edged Mapletown, 34-28.
HSSN 2021 Player of the Week
Week 3 – Trenton Carter, Carmichaels
Week 2 – Abraham Ibrahim, Vallée des Chartiers
Week 1 – Graham Hancox, Seneca Valley
Week Zero – Carson Davidson, Blackhawk
Tags: Belle Vernon, California, Central Catholic, Mt. Pleasant