South Allegheny edges Steel Valley in defensive battle
It didn't take South Allegheny long to get T-shirts made for clinching its first playoff berth in 26 years.
Pat Monroe might have to make a trip to Natale's Sporting Goods to place another order — Century Conference champions.
South Allegheny's magical season continued with a 14-6 win on Friday night over Steel Valley at Glassport Memorial Stadium that set up next week's showdown for the conference championship against No. 2 South Fayette (8-0, 7-0).
It was South Allegheny's seventh consecutive win and first over rival Steel Valley (4-4, 4-3) since 2004.
“We will show up next week; I am sure of that,” Monroe said. “You have to play it. It's beautiful. We are playing a Week 9 game for the conference championship. This is why we play.”
South Allegheny (7-1, 6-1) got touchdown runs of 3 yards from Delvinn Coleman, who was subbing for injured Brandon Murn, late in the first half and Dustin Anderson early in the third quarter.
The Gladiators then relied on a bend-but-not break defense that turned away Steel Valley deep in their own territory five times before giving up an Aaron Moore 3-yard touchdown run with 80 seconds left.
It was too late by then.
“We really answered the bell defensively,” Monroe said. “We kept them out of the end zone for the majority of the game and that was fighting them on a short field as well. We found a way.”
The Gladiators managed only 114 total yards but scored twice within minutes for their only points.
“We felt that we controlled the game,” Steel Valley coach Rod Steele said. “We weren't disciplined and it came back to hurt us. Give coach Monroe credit because he's done a great job. But give us credit, too. We were missing a lot of people and fought hard.”
Steel Valley drove the ball inside South Allegheny's 35-yard line on its first four possessions, but turned it over on downs three times and Davonte Johnson ended the other drive when he intercepted Patrick O'Malley.
“We were opportunistic,” Monroe said.
South Allegheny ran only 12 plays for 18 yards until they got the ball back with two minutes left in the half and finally put together a drive.
Dustin Anderson connected with Ty Cook for 12- and 6-yard receptions sandwiched around a 24-yard run by Anderson that moved South Allegheny to the Steel Valley 24-yard line.
The Gladiators appeared to be facing third-and-14 after Anderson got sacked, but Steel Valley was called for a late hit on the quarterback, keeping the drive alive.
After a swing pass to Keaton McClelland got the ball to the 3-yard line, Coleman burst over left guard with 19 seconds left for the only score of the half.
“Good teams are able to capitalize on mistakes,” Monroe said.
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com