Gateway locks up Quad East title
A game that last year went down to the final play was a first-half blowout this season.
Gateway left no doubt as to who is the best team in the Quad East Conference: The second-ranked Gators scored early and often to win, 42-0, at No. 10 Penn-Trafford on Friday night.
Thomas Woodson led the Gators (7-1, 7-0) with 322 yards and three touchdowns on 10-for-14 passing, although the senior Arizona recruit threw his first interception of the season. The victory clinched Gateway's first conference title since 2009.
“It's the first goal accomplished. We wanted to get the conference championship back, and that's the first of our three big goals (of conference, WPIAL and state titles),” Gateway coach Terry Smith said.
Last year, Penn-Trafford (6-2, 6-1) won the old Quad South Conference by beating Gateway on a last-second field goal, 16-14. This year's Warriors will finish second in the Quad East and host a playoff game in two weeks, but there was no such suspense in this year's game against Gateway.
The Gators took the opening kickoff and went on their longest drive of the game, an 11-play, 85-yard push that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Darin Franklin.
A 30-yard strike from Woodson to Delvon Randall added to the lead, and Mileak Ford intercepted a pass by Penn-Trafford's Dorian Stevens and returned it 21 yards to put Gateway ahead, 21-0, just two plays into the second quarter.
Penn-Trafford's offense got three first downs on its first drive, but the Warriors were limited to 94 yards for the game. Devin Austin had 51 yards on 10 carries.
“We knew every play that they were going to run,” Smith said. “We made adjustments, and (our coaches) did a great job scouting Penn-Trafford.”
“(Gateway) executed, and that's what you have to do to win,” Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane said. “I thought our defense didn't play as bad as it looked, but I think our offense hurt us more by not being able to control the ball, move the ball and score.”
Gateway's offense moved down the field with big plays. Woodson completed five passes of 30 yards or longer.
Montae Nicholson was the Gators' leading receiver with 109 yards on two catches, but he left the game with an injury after turning a screen pass into a 54-yard gain. Franklin led the Gateway rushing attack with 75 yards on eight carries, including a 38-yarder.
A 53-yard connection from Woodson to Todd Jeter made it 35-0 before halftime, which put the running clock into effect. Gateway maintained control in the second half, although a pair of fumbles kept the Gators from increasing their lead.
The only second-half score from Gateway came from the defense, when Jeter intercepted a pass at the 15-yard line and advanced inside the 5. Jeter fumbled, but Jaymar Parrish was there to scoop up the ball and carry it the rest of the way to the end zone.
Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.