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St. Joe’s Prep beats Bethlehem Freedom in PIAA Class 6A state quarterfinals behind Myles Talley’s smothering defense

Talley posted 11 tackles, including two third-quarter sacks, as the Hawks moved closer to their fourth state title in six seasons. Next up is Pine-Richland.

St. Joseph's Prep linebacker Myles Talley (19) rsacks Bethlehem Freedom quarterback Jared Jenkins in the third quarter.
St. Joseph's Prep linebacker Myles Talley (19) rsacks Bethlehem Freedom quarterback Jared Jenkins in the third quarter.Read moreDAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer

Myles Talley has not been slowed by a scaphoid fracture of his right wrist, suffered in St. Joseph's Prep's defeat of La Salle in the Catholic League championship game earlier this month.

Actually, it appears the hard-charging senior outside linebacker has performed better since the injury.

Talley was involved in 11 tackles, including five solos and two sacks, as the Hawks clobbered District 11 titlist Bethlehem Freedom, 42-14, in Saturday afternoon's PIAA Class 6A state quarterfinal at Northeast.

The 5-foot-10, 205-pounder, who wears a brace on his injured wrist, also scooped up a second-quarter fumble at the Freedom 22-yard line to set up the first of Kyle McCord's two touchdown passes to Johnny Freeman.

Talley consistently muscles his way into the backfield to disrupt running plays or dump the quarterback. Both of his sacks against the Patriots came in the third quarter.

"I call what I do a speed release and rip," the 17-year-old said. "It's really all about determination and will. Also, I couldn't do what I do without the guys around me."

The Hawks (11-0) will take on District 7's Pine-Richland in a semifinal next weekend at a neutral site and time to be determined.

Talley and Co. held Freedom (12-2) to 113 yards rushing, on 31 attempts, and 46 passing.

For the season, Talley has registered 54 tackles, with 36 solos, and 8 1/2 sacks. He has made 22 stops for loss, recovered three fumbles, blocked a punt, and notched five pass defends.

Talley received strong support against the Patriots from fellow linebackers Jeremiah Trotter (nine tackles, pass deflection) and Liam Johnson (eight tackles), and lineman Andrew Bailey, Nick Yagodich, and Anthony Leneghan.

Sophomore Sahmir Hagans scored on 62-yard catch and run and a 13-yard dash to give the Prep a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.

In the second frame, after Freedom cut the gap in half on Jared Jenkins' 5-yard throw to Vincent Reph, Zach Bouggess returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards to make it 21-7.

Ahead by 28-7 at the break, the Hawks sealed the victory with a pair of third-quarter tallies – Freeman's 9-yard grab and Kolbe Burrell's 5-yard run.

McCord completed 9 of 14 passes passes for 159 yards and three TDs before giving way to backup Malik Cooper at the start of the fourth quarter.

Talley's biggest fans are his parents, LeVar and Salina, His sophomore brother, Julian, is a reverse defensive back for the Prep's varsity.

Myles Talley, of Hatfield, has drawn recruiting interest from Division I-AA Robert Morris and Division II Assumption. He plans to major in zoology (he has owned dogs, frogs, lizards, and snakes) in college.

Bethlehem Freedom  7  0   0  7 – 14

St. Joseph's Prep       4  14 14 0 – 42

SJP: Sahmir Hagans 62 pass from Kyle McCord (kick blocked)

SJP: Hagans 13 run (Marvin Harrison pass from McCord)

BF: Vincent Reph 5 pass from Jared Jenkins (Nicholas Stannard kick)

SJP: Zach Bouggess 95 kickoff return (Antonio Chadha kick)

SJP: Johnny Freeman 22 pass from McCord (Chadha kick)

SJP: Freeman 9 pass from McCord (Chadha kick)

SJP: Kolbe Burrell 5 run (Chadha kick)

BF: Sebastian Gibbs 9 run (Nicholas Stannard kick)