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Woodland Hills outlasts Gateway

Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Woodland Hills defensive back Tom Greene celebrates his game-ending interception of Gateway quarterback Thomas Woodson during their WPIAL Class AAAA quarterfinal on Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, at Norwin High School. Woodland Hills upset Gateway, 17-14, to advance to the semifinals.

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By Keith Barnes
Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, 11:14 p.m.
 

Woodland Hills coach George Novak thought Gateway provided his team the toughest test it had faced all season.

Consider the Wolverines having passed their exam.

Woodland Hills (9-2) controlled the line of scrimmage, holding the vaunted Gateway offensive attack to minus-39 yards rushing, and made the No. 2 Gators one-dimensional as the seventh-seeded Wolverines held on for a 17-14 victory Friday in the WPIAL Class AAAA quarterfinals at Norwin Knights Stadium.

“It was one of those games that came down to the last play,” Novak said. “You can't say enough about (that) team. They have some of the best players in the WPIAL and have a lot of speed. I give a lot of credit to our coaching staff to put together a game plan that worked.”

It almost wasn't enough.

Gateway got the ball for one last crack from its own 8-yard line with 12.6 seconds remaining. Quarterback Thomas Woodson, an Arizona recruit, nearly got the big play he needed when the Gators ran a hook-and-lateral play, but the receiver attempted to lateral the ball before he caught it, and it fell incomplete with 8.4 seconds left.

On the final play Woodson, who completed 21 of 49 for 286 yards and two first-half touchdown, heaved the ball down the field in desperation but Tom Greene came up with the interception as time expired.

“I almost cried. With all the hype they got, it felt so good,” Greene said.

Woodland Hills will play Upper St. Clair in the semifinals. The Wolverines lost to the Panthers in the season opener.

“We're really banged up so we'll see who we've got left,” Novak said.

Woodland Hills lost freshman running back Miles Sanders early in the second half to an undisclosed injury. Before leaving, Sanders carried 14 times for 93 yards and scored twice.

Senior kicker Jordan Potter accounted for the margin of victory when he hit a 38-yard field goal with 3:16 remaining in the first quarter to give the Wolverines a 10-7 lead. Woodland Hills never trailed in the game thanks to a defensive scheme that brought pressure on almost every play.

It didn't help Gateway that receivers dropped several balls. But the Gators could not block the Wolverines up front, as they were tackled 10 times for losses.

Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at kbarnes@tribweb.com or 412-664-9161 Ext. 1977.

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