HERSHEY — Pittsburgh Central Catholic captured the PIAA Class AAAA football championship Saturday night after holding off Parkland 21-18 at Hersheypark Stadium.
It was the fourth Class AAAA crown for the Vikings (15-1) and their first since 2007, which also came against Parkland. Central Catholic also won titles in 1988 and 2004.
Trailing 21-0 in the fourth quarter, the Trojans (14-2) nearly staged a huge comeback by scoring the final 18 points on a Donovan Berger 33-yard field goal and touchdown receptions from Zach Bross and Kenny Yeboah.
Yeboah's touchdown — a 64-yard reception — came with 1:40 to play. Parkland nearly recovered its second onside kick of the fourth quarter, but the ball went through the hands of Justin Lessel and rolled out of bounds.
Central Catholic, which fell to St. Joseph's Prep in the 2013 state final, nearly ran out the final 1:32, but Parkland had one final Hail Mary attempt in the last 0.6 second of the game that was intercepted.
"They were asking why we kicked the field goal when we were down three scores," Parkland coach Jim Morgans said. "You get points up on the board and everything changes and it was nothing other than I knew it would give our kids a little spark and a lift and it did. But the first half, that's what hurt us."
Morgans' team finished with 307 yards of offense, but managed just 55 in the first half.
J.J. Younger led Pittsburgh Central Catholic with 184 yards, while Ronnie Jones added 119 yards on 27 carries.
"It feels great to be part of this win and to have a huge impact on the win," Younger said. He said he's had the opportunity when players were out with injury, to be up next. "But I never got a chance to shine like this. The second running back went down and first corner went down, so I just stepped in."
Jones scored a pair of six-yard touchdowns in the first half to give the Vikings a 14-0 lead at the half. Younger's 54-yard scamper late in the third quarter made it 21-0.
Pittsburgh Central Catholic coach Terry Totten thanked his players. "They're men now. They've been through a year. I wish everyone knew them as I did."