Penn-Trafford strikes early, holds on
Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane preached to his players all week about starting fast.
They must have listened.
The Warriors raced out to a three-touchdown first-half lead then hung on to defeat visiting and short-handed McKeesport, 28-14, in a Quad East game Friday night. McKeesport did not dress numerous players because of injuries and suspensions.
Among the players suspended for violating team policies was starting quarterback Eddie Stockett. McKeesport coach Jim Ward would not comment on how many players were suspended and why but said everyone would be at practice Monday.
Without Stockett, McKeesport's offense sputtered much of the first half.
That wasn't the case for Penn-Trafford. The Warriors scored on three of their four possessions and could have scored a fourth, but quarterback Dorian Stevens made his only mistake of the game, throwing an interception in the end zone on the first drive of the game.
Stevens was sharp the rest of the way. He scored on a nifty 8-yard run late in the first quarter to give Penn-Trafford a 7-0 lead.
“We threw the ball effectively for the first time all year, which was a complete opposite from a week ago,” Ruane said. “It was really impressive how we did it.”
Stevens completed 9 of 14 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown. At one point he completed seven in a row. He also rushed for 68 yards and scored a clinching touchdown in the third quarter.
Devin Austin (5-yard run) made it 14-0 on the first play of the second quarter, capping a short drive that followed a fumble recovery by Vincent Hetherington at the McKeesport 34.
The lead went to 21-0 when Stevens tossed a 9-yard scoring strike with 6:35 left in the second quarter.
Then McKeesport's offense found life.
The Tigers put together a 15-play, 80-yard scoring drive capped by David Queen's quarterback sneak on the final play of the first half. Hodari Christian's two-point conversion made it 21-8 at halftime.
McKeesport took the second-half kickoff and put together an 11-play, 90-yard drive capped by a 28-yard score by Christian to make it 21-14. The drive lasted 5 minutes, 35 seconds, meaning McKeesport controlled the ball for about an entire quarter before Penn-Trafford got it back.
“We relaxed a little, and they found something,” Ruane said. “We need to find the killer instinct when we have a lead like that. McKeesport was without its star and played well. That's a credit to coach Ward.”
The Warriors responded. Stevens pushed the lead to 28-14 minutes later when he raced 51 yards for a score.
“I love getting into the open field and hearing the crowd,” Stevens said. “My success throwing was because my line gave me great protection.”
Ruane said the long touchdown deflated McKeesport.
Ward was not displeased with his team's effort. Queen, who started for Stockett, didn't learn until Thursday's practice that he was starting.
“We showed some resilience,” Ward said. “We didn't have some kids that we expected to be here. I'm proud of the kids. They gave it their best.
“Penn-Trafford threw the ball better than we've seen all season. We blew a couple coverages. Our playbook was limited on both sides of the ball.”
Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-853-2109.