After his team's 28-21 victory against Sharpsville last week, Port Allegany coach Mike Bodamer told reporters his team's game the following week against Clairton would be a David-and-Goliath type matchup, with his team "definitely" representing David.
It's a Biblical comparison that's common in sports, one meant to give hope to an opponent that's seemingly outmatched and overwhelmed. But more often than not, Goliath is Goliath for a reason -- be it pure strength, speed, talent or any other intangible of the game.
And on a wet Friday night with a blanket of fog looming over the field, Clairton again proved why, for the greater part of the past four years, there has been no other Goliath quite like it.
Tyler Boyd accounted for 104 yards and three touchdowns as Clairton defeated Port Allegany, 44-12, in the PIAA Class A semifinals at Deer Lakes, with the win moving the Bears 48 minutes away from their 63rd consecutive win and fourth consecutive state title.
"It feels awesome, finally making history," Boyd said. "We had to fight through a little adversity, but we're used to this -- we've been going through this for three years. We just had to play with each other, ball out and stand strong."
Quarterback Armani Ford threw for 195 yards and a touchdown, and wide receiver Terrish Webb caught five passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns, helping the Bears (15-0) pull away in the second half.
Leading by 10 points at halftime, Clairton hit its stride in the second half as the Bears outgained the Gators, 291-108, in total yards after halftime, a span in which they outscored Port Allegany (13-1) by a 28-6 margin.
After the two high-powered offenses were uncharacteristically held scoreless in the first quarter, Boyd ran through a series of Port Allegheny tacklers for a 15-yard touchdown with 5:50 left in the first half that gave the Bears an 8-0 lead.
The Gators wasted no time responding, completing a 64-yard pass from Matt Bodamer to wide receiver Nick Conway that set up a 6-yard touchdown run from running back Trent Neal on the next play to get within two points courtesy of a drive that took all of 26 seconds.
With its back up against the wall again, Clairton marched up the field on its next drive, one that concluded with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Boyd to Webb on a fourth-and-goal play, giving Clairton a 16-6 lead heading into halftime.
"We're always confident," coach Tom Nola said. "We know we have a good team. It was only a matter of time. Really nobody's stopped us all year, and our defense plays well enough where they're going to keep us in the game no matter what. We were confident."
The Bears opened the game's final 24 minutes the same way they closed out the first 24 -- in offensive form, turning a closely contested game into a customary rout.
In little more than a minute, Clairton moved up the field, with Boyd capping things off with a 33-yard touchdown run that saw him weave across the field through one defender after another.
Another two-point conversion pushed the lead to 24-6, and from there, the margin only grew.
The Clairton defense limited Bodamer, who entered the game having thrown for 51 touchdowns and nearly 4,000 yards, to 176 passing yards, a touchdown and two interceptions and held the Port Allegany offense to a season-low 12 points.
With the PIAA championship in Hershey next week, the Bears enter familiar territory, not only with the venue, but with the chance to make history and send the seniors, who began their career with a loss, out with a fourth consecutive state title.
"I think this year is bigger because it's my senior year," Webb said. "It's going to mean more to me because it's going to be my last game together playing with my bros. Those guys are like my family, so we want to win it all."
Craig Meyer: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter: @craig_a_meyer. First Published December 8, 2012 5:00 AM