West Catholic coach Brian Fluck struggled momentarily to gather his woebegone team Saturday after the Burrs fell, 34-19, to Southern Columbia in a PIAA Class AA semifinal at Northern Lehigh.
Backsides plopped onto the turf, faces buried deep into hands, and tears, accompanied by sobs, flowed freely.
After coaxing a few inconsolable team members back into the huddle, Fluck delivered his message.
"I'm proud of this," the 17-year coach told his team. "I'm proud of you guys. You played your asses off."
The Burrs (10-6, 4-0) led District 4's Southern Columbia, 19-14, heading into the fourth quarter before injuries, penalties, turnovers, and the Tigers' rugged offense resulted in 20 points in the final period.
"When you lose three or four wide receivers, it's hard to play the rest of the game," Fluck said. "It's tough when players go out. I give the kids credit. Our kids battled all the way through. I was proud of them."
The Burrs' most dynamic player all season, Craig Jones, suffered a head injury in the fourth quarter.
Calil Wortham, the team's leading rusher, didn't play .
Amadou Barry, West Catholic's most effective receiver against Southern Columbia, suffered a head injury in the third quarter and did not play in the fourth. Ahmad Kent also suffered a head injury.
Barry finished with game highs of six catches, 112 receiving yards, and two touchdown catches.
Jones returned the opening kick 88 yards for a touchdown.
West Catholic, however, was penalized 13 times for 127 yards. The Tigers (14-0) were flagged three times for 25 yards. In the first half, the Burrs were flagged 10 times, and the Tigers were ticketed twice.
Southern Columbia finished with 312 rushing yards on 55 attempts (5.6 per attempt) and forced six turnovers (five interceptions).
It appeared the Burrs got fatigued in the second half and succumbed to the Tigers' rushing attack.
Hunter Thomas finished with 111 yards on 13 carries while Blake Marks added 98 and a touchdown on 14 carries.
Senior quarterback Nick Becker added three rushing touchdowns and a TD pass.
The Tigers took a 14-13 lead into halftime but trailed, 19-14, after Josh Evans hit Barry for a 24-yard touchdown with 75 seconds left in the third.
Evans finished with 281 yards passing and two touchdown passes. He added 68 rushing yards.
West Catholic 7 6 6 0 - 19
Southern Columbia 0 14 0 20 - 34
W: Craig Jones 88 kick return (Jones kick)
S: Blake Marks 19 pass from Nick Becker (Tyler Keiser kick)
W: Amadou Barry 21 pass from Joshua Evans (kick failed)
S: Becker 3 run (Keiser kick)
W: Barry 32 pass from Evans (pass failed)
S: Becker 3 run (pass failed)
S: Marks 12 run (Keiser kick)
S: Becker 14 run (Keiser kick)