Mt. Pleasant executes flawless game plan to beat Burrell
Mt. Pleasant had a game plan — the same one that coaches have been trying to execute against Burrell all season.
Unlike most of the others that failed, the Vikings thoroughly carried out theirs, and it led to their first WPIAL playoff win since 2009.
Junior Tyler Mellors rushed for 185 yards and four touchdowns on 20 carries and senior teammate Taylor Allison added 108 yards and three scores as No. 9 seed Mt. Pleasant ran past No. 8 Burrell, 48-28, in a Class AA first-round game at Valley Memorial Stadium in New Kensington.
Mt. Pleasant (8-2), which advances to face No. 1 Aliquippa (10-0), corralled Burrell senior Cole Bush, the WPIAL's second-leading rusher, holding the big back to a season-low 84 yards on 20 carries.
“There were three big keys for us tonight,” Vikings coach Bo Ruffner said. “Play a 48-minute game, stop Cole Bush and win the turnover battle. We did all three. And on top of that, our defense played outstanding.”
Bush scored three touchdowns, the latter two when the Vikings were well in control.
Mellors torched the Bucs for three touchdowns in the first half, including a 54-yard burst late in the second quarter.
Mt. Pleasant took a 21-7 lead into halftime and fended off a late comeback by Burrell (8-2), which was seeking its first playoff win since 2005.
Mellors scored on runs of 22, 1, 54 and 2 yards to power the Vikings, who rushed for 370 yards.
Allison scored all three of his touchdowns — 16, 37 and 27 yards — in a wild fourth quarter that saw Burrell outscore the Vikings, 21-20.
The teams combined for more than 700 yards of offense.
“Mt. Pleasant had a great game plan and they're one great team,” Burrell coach Kevin Horwatt said. “I am proud of our kids the way they fought back.”
Burrell cut the margin to 28-14 on a 14-yard touchdown by Bush early in the fourth, but Allison answered with a 16-yarder and 27-yarder to make it 41-14.
Burrell quarterback James Liput, who had a career night, found Mitch Pollino for a short touchdown and Burrell recovered an onside kick to set up Bush's 17-yard grab to get the Bucs within 41-28 with 2:33 left.
Liput was 23-for-35 for 226 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. His cousin, Nick Pattock, caught six passes for 81 yards.
Allison's third score of the fourth, a 37-yard romp, made it 48-28.
“Crazy things can happen in a game like this,” Ruffner said. “Playoff wins aren't easy to come by, but our kids went out and earned this win.”
Mt. Pleasant limited Bush to 45 yards in the first half.
Bush hadn't been held under 134 yards in a game all season. He scored on a short run to tie it, 7-7, but the Bucs never found any rhythm offensively the rest of the way.
“Hats off to these seniors; they're a great group of kids,” Horwatt said. “They're great leaders and they left footprints for the younger guys to follow. There was no quit in them.”
Mt. Pleasant threw only five passes.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-224-2696 or firstname.lastname@example.org.