McKeesport football team whips Woodland Hills, 33-20
He was wearing the same red McKeesport hat and the same white, long-sleeve shirt.
As George Smith led his team out of the locker room at Weigle-Schaeffer Memorial Stadium before Saturday's return to the sidelines he called home for 28 years after a three-year hiatus, he paused momentarily to soak in the hoopla surrounding the moment.
Well, think again, because that wouldn't be very George Smith-like, would it?
On a day that McKeesport held homecoming and honored the 1994 and 2005 state championship teams, the Tigers held up their end of the bargain.
McKeesport's flexbone offense was as potent as it was four years ago, and the defense was as dominant as ever as the Tigers stayed unbeaten with an upset of Woodland Hills, 33-20, in a nonconference game.
The win the 199th of Smith's career and his first at home since Oct. 16, 2009. It was the first time McKeesport beat Woodland Hills at home since 1995.
“I didn't think about it coming out of the locker room, seriously,” said Smith about the anticipation of his return home. “I was too busy concentrating on this game and trying to find a way to move the ball on them.”
Smith had little trouble figuring that out.
Mikell Moore rushed for 69 yards and touchdown runs of 3 and 16 yards. Reggie Smith added 44 yards and a game-clinching 29-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown as McKeesport used its offensive line — Jaylin Short, Tom Fichera, Tomi McKelvey, Kameron Bostic and Evander Dillard-Fennell — to wear down Woodland Hills (247 yards, four rushing touchdowns).
David Queen added a 56-yard touchdown pass to TyWann Smith, five running backs had at least 30 yards rushing, and the Tigers rolled up 326 yards of total offense against last year's Class AAAA runner-up.
“They are a very good team,” Woodland Hills coach George Novak said. “I've got to give Coach Smith all the credit. Coach Smith, his kids and coaching staff — they have a great staff and know the system, and I thought they played very, very well.”
Woodland Hills (0-2, 0-1) received 94 yards and a touchdown on the ground from sophomore Miles Sanders and another 36 yards and a score through the air, but the Wolverines managed only 104 total yards from the rest of the team.
“They are so talented, big, strong and fast,” Smith said. “They are unbelievable. But this is how we wanted to do it, and we are happy with that.”
Woodland Hills limited McKeesport to 21 rushes of 3 yards or fewer, but typical of the flexbone offense, the Tigers were able to get chunks of yards. McKeesport had 10 rushes of 10 yards or longer.
“At times we did well, and at times we didn't do well,” Novak said. “You stop it, stop it, stop it and they really weren't optioning it very much, and today they did it a lot.”
With Woodland Hills leading, 7-0, early in the first quarter thanks to a botched punt attempt by TyWann Smith, McKeesport tore off chunks of yards on the outside with Carlos and Khaleke Hudson. On fourth-and-11 on Woodland Hills' 14, Khaleke Hudson took a pitch and raced nearly untouched for the score. A missed extra point kept the Wolverines in the lead at 7-6.
Woodland Hills extended its lead on the next drive. Sanders broke a 47-yard run to set up a Harry Randall's 9-yard TD pass to Chris David to make it 13-6.
After that, it was all McKeesport.
Queen hooked up with Smith from 56 yards out to tie it at 13-13. Moore capped a 10-play drive with a 3-yard touchdown run to make it 20-13 at the half.
“The offensive line has improved,” Moore said. “Without my line, I am nothing.”
That line continued to dominate in the second half, opening holes for runs of 23, 16, 18 and 29 yards in the fourth quarter alone — two of which went for scores — to put the game away and give McKeesport a 2-0 start. The Tigers lost their first two games last season.
“Coach Smith is a cool guy, and I love him,” Moore said. “It's been awesome. Everything has been awesome. He's a great coach.”