PIAA Class AA Championship: Pryor leaves his final imprint on high school football in Pennsylvania

Jayhawks roll to a 16-0 record and a PIAA title

HERSHEY, Pa. -- Again, his legend grew.

And at this point, the proportion of that legend has grown, perhaps, larger than any in the rich history of Pennsylvania high school football.

In the final chapter, the last opportunity to stand under the spotlight, Jeannette senior quarterback Terrelle Pryor put an immeasurable exclamation point on his career where exclamation points happened on just about every snap.

Pryor accounted for five of Jeannette's seven touchdowns yesterday as the Jayhawks stormed to a 49-21 victory against Dunmore in the PIAA Class AA championship at Hersheypark Stadium.

It was the most points scored in Class AA title game history and it was also something else -- a span of 2 hours, 30 minutes in which the 5,911 fans at the stadium and a statewide cable television audience fell under Pryor's mesmerizing spell.

There were times in his career where Pryor was unstoppable. Yesterday, he looked that way again, rushing for three touchdowns, throwing for another and, for good measure, catching a 28-yard pass over two Dunmore defenders for a score as the second-quarter horn blared.

Pryor finished with 209 yards rushing on 12 carries against Dunmore (14-2) and also completed 3 of 4 passes for 83 yards. In a near-exact measure of symmetry, he finished with 4,250 career yards rushing and 4,249 yards passing, and is the only player in state history to eclipse the 4,000-yard barrier on both fronts.

"If there is a better player than him, ever, I haven't seen him," Jeannette coach Ray Reitz said of Pryor. "I can't speak for more than 40 years ago, or way, way back. But I will say this without any question: Terrelle Pryor is the best I have ever seen."

Someone who does go way back had one of the best views of Pryor yesterday -- Dunmore coach Jack Henzes, who is in his 37th season at the school.

"His presence on the field is impressive, he has such a feel for everything," Henzes said of the 6-foot-6, 225-pound Pryor. "He glides so well and he takes two steps and he is running away from our people. I thought our kids played well there for a while, but he is just such a great athlete."

A great athlete who made the Jayhawks around him better this year as Jeannette rebounded from a loss in the PIAA championship a year ago to record a 16-0 mark. In truth, the Jayhawks were tested for only a few quarters all season, as they put the mercy rule in effect in 14 of 16 games.

A season of History
Jeannette's Class AA domination is reflected in its numbers:

  • 16-0 2007 season record
  • 30-2 Two-year record
  • 860 Points scored -- a state record
  • 53.8 Points per game
  • 92 Touchdowns rushing
  • 6 Games of 60 or more points
  • 9.5 Points allowed per game
  • 8,499 Career yards of offense for Terrelle Pryor.

"This is us, that is how it has been the whole year," Pryor said. "Every time we touch the ball we try to score. We made everything work because we worked hard, all year."

Jeannette finished with a state-record 860 points, wiping out the former mark held by Southern Columbia, which scored 755 last year.

While Pryor played the undisputed feature role against Dunmore, junior running back Jordan Hall turned in an award-winning performance as best supporting actor with 128 yards rushing and a touchdown run, a touchdown catch and a 65-yard punt return for a score.

On the game's first play, Hall lined up in an empty set at quarterback as Pryor set up at wide receiver. Hall took the snap and raced 58 yards for a touchdown with Pryor offering security along the way as a flanking blocker.

From there, Dunmore fired back, taking 6:05 off the clock and capping a drive with a 4-yard touchdown run by Miller Holmes to make it 7-7.

It wouldn't be close the rest of the way -- Pryor and Hall made certain of that.

"I just tried to make sure our team had team success," Pryor said. "Then, everyone noticed all the individual stuff that I did."

It was impossible not to take notice.

Pryor left the game yesterday with 8:44 remaining in the fourth quarter and, after he zigzagged through the Dunmore defense for a 41-yard touchdown run to give the Jayhawks a 49-7 lead, he never broke stride as he looped around and headed for the Jayhawks sideline. As he scampered past Reitz, Pryor said matter-of-factly to his coach, "I'm done, that's enough."

He was done on the field, but as the clock ticked off those final 8:44, there was a lot more going on than the second-stringers plugging away on the field and Dunmore scoring two late touchdowns.

Pryor spent the final portion of the contest on the sideline autographing a few footballs and then slinging them into the stands. Jeannette fans responded by clamoring and jockeying for the souvenirs and then giving Pryor -- and all the Jayhawks -- a long, standing ovation.

And after the final horn, a predictable media throng formed around Pryor.

As he stood, hulking over the inquisitors, Pryor was asked about what yesterday's performance did to measure his place in history.

"I just wanted to leave a landmark," Pryor said. "And I left a landmark on Hershey."

He left more than a landmark on Hershey. He left an indelible one on the long, proud history of high school football in Pennsylvania.

Colin Dunlap can be reached at cdunlap@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1459. First Published December 16, 2007 5:00 AM


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