MONROEVILLE, Pa. - Just as Archbishop Wood had momentum and moved into great position for a go-ahead score against Pittsburgh Central Catholic, the game was stopped because of lightning.
The 34-minute delay that followed took the thunder out of the Vikings' comeback.
Wood had an excellent showing against the Pittsburgh power, but Central Catholic hung on for a 20-17 victory in the Gateway Kickoff Classic.
"We battled, but we didn't come in here to get a moral victory," said Wood coach Steve Devlin. "We came in here to win, and we didn't get that done."
The game was televised nationally (ESPN2) and matched two No. 1 teams. Wood was ranked No. 1 in the state in Class AAA and Central Catholic No. 1 in Class AAAA. With Central Catholic holding a three-point lead, Wood quarterback Joe Monaghan hit tight end Benji Abercrombie on a 57-yard pass that put Wood at the Central Catholic 13 with 2 minutes, 58 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Then the officials stepped in and stopped the contest because of lightning in the area. Both teams went to their locker rooms and Wood's offense appeared to have stayed there. After the delay, Wood running back Brandon Peoples lost a yard, and Monaghan gained 1 yard on a keeper. On third down, Monaghan was sacked for a 10-yard loss by Central Catholic's Gavin Sandidge.
Nick Visco came on to try a 40-yard field goal with 1:14 left, but it sailed wide left. Visco made a 35-yarder earlier in the game.
"I was hoping we could still go," Devlin said of the delay. "You're playing and you have momentum, but whatever. We both went in and got rested. The bottom line is they won.
"All my guys said they thought the field goal was good. But it shouldn't have come down to that. You have first and 10 on the 13, you have to be able to punch it in."
The game was pretty much even statistically. Central Catholic had 402 yards of offense and Wood 340. Wood's offensive line was excellent, and Brandon Peoples rushed for 91 yards on nine carries. His cousin, Desmon, had 90 yards on 21 attempts, and Monaghan finished 6 of 7 for 109 yards.
Central Catholic's Damion Jones-Moore, a 5-foot-7 senior halfback, rushed for 189 yards on 15 attempts, but had only 23 yards in the second half when Wood's defense stiffened.
Jones-Moore had two long touchdown runs in the first half of 54 and 70 yards. The second gave Central Catholic a 13-10 halftime lead. Central Catholic took a 20-10 lead in the third quarter when receiver Anthony Nixon, a Maryland recruit, caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from Perry Hills.
Brandon Peoples scored on a 19-yard run with 10:55 remaining in the game. He had a 29-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Archbishop Wood 7 3 0 7-17
Pitts. Central Catholic 6 7 7 0-20
AW: B. Peoples 29 run (Visco kick)
CC: Jones-Moore 54 run (kick blocked)
AW: FG Visco 35
CC: Jones-Moore 70 run (Maczura kick)
CC: Nixon 27 pass from Hills (Maczura kick)