Central Catholic survives Penn-Trafford upset bid
A first-round playoff victory on the road didn't appear to be enough to please Central Catholic football coach Terry Totten.
But it was. Totten exhaled as time expired with his 11th-seeded Vikings up on sixth-seeded Penn-Trafford by a narrow margin Friday night. Moments earlier, the Warriors were at midfield trying their best to muster another big play and extend their season of surprises.
Luigi Lista-Brinza rushed for 167 yards and scored two touchdowns, and sophomore Joe Tindal intercepted Penn-Trafford quarterback Dorian Stevens' long pass at the Central Catholic 1-yard line with 1:05 left to preserve the Vikings' 30-27 victory.
Central Catholic (8-2) advances to the WPIAL Class AAAA quarterfinals next Friday against Upper St. Clair, which beat Kiski Area, 42-0, on Friday.
“My hat's off to Penn-Trafford,” Totten said. “They had a great game plan and rolled out a couple of plays that we just weren't ready for. We were on our heels all night.”
A win is a win, though, and Totten was grateful to escape.
“We'll take it,” he said.
Even after Central Catholic had regained control, Penn-Trafford (7-3) used its timeouts to force the Vikings into a punt. But the Central Catholic defense swarmed around Stevens, who was unable to move the Warriors as time ran out.
Stevens finished 11 for 17 for 197 yards and two touchdowns. One of his passes ignited a razzle-dazzle play that resulted in Dom Cima's 35-yard touchdown run that pulled Penn-Trafford within 17-12.
“We had big play after big play,” Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane said. “We lost to a great football team that played harder and wanted to win.”
Penn-Trafford led just once, in the first quarter, when Tom Stinelli scored on a 2-yard run to put the Warriors ahead, 6-3, after Central Catholic's Mitchell MacZura kicked a 23-yard field goal on the Vikings' first drive.
Central Catholic went ahead for good on back-to-back touchdown runs of 1 yard by quarterback Joe Consentino and 15 yards by Lista-Brinza, giving the Vikings a 17-6 advantage.
On the final play of the second quarter, Stevens fired a 13-yard strike to Stinelli, who lateraled the ball to Cima at the Central Catholic 35, from where Cima raced into the end zone to cut the Penn-Trafford deficit to five points. Central Catholic regrouped, with Lista-Brinza later racing untouched eight yards into the end zone to put the Vikings back up by double digits, 24-12.
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-380-5617.