Role reversals key Penn-Trafford victory over Latrobe
Penn-Trafford's running back made a big play with his arm Friday night, and the Warriors' quarterback made things happen with his legs.
It all added up to a conference victory.
Running back Tom Stinelli's 23-yard touchdown pass to Timmy Vecchio broke open a close game in the third quarter, and quarterback Brett Laffoon kept a pair of scoring drives alive with first-down runs as Penn-Trafford beat Latrobe, 28-8, in a Quad East game Friday night at Warrior Stadium.
“I knew Timmy was going to go out and make a play,” said Stinelli, who added 79 yards and a rushing touchdown. “I just didn't want to lead him out of bounds. I just wanted to give him a chance to get it.”
Laffoon kept that scoring drive alive with a 7-yard run on fourth-and-4, and his 10-yard carry on third-and-8 set up Stinelli's 33-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
While Penn-Trafford (3-2, 3-1) considers itself more of a running team — the Warriors entered Friday's game averaging more than 200 yards per game on the ground and had 180 against Latrobe (1-4, 0-4) — some of the biggest plays against the Wildcats came through the air.
Besides Stinelli's 23-yard scoring strike, Laffoon threw for 153 yards and another score. Vecchio finished with 79 yards and two touchdowns on five catches, while senior Ryan Marasti caught four passes for 95 yards.
“We definitely had to do things on the perimeter because of their blitz,” Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane said. “They were taking away some of our better stuff. That's a credit to (Latrobe coach Ray) Reitz. They knew what we were doing, and we just had to do some other stuff to take advantage of it. I thought we hit some big plays in the passing game. Those were critical for us because it slowed them down a little bit.”
Penn-Trafford opened the game by throwing the ball downfield, as Laffoon found Marasti for a 31-yard reception on the Warriors' opening possession to set up Devin Austin's 1-yard touchdown run.
A 29-yard pass to Marasti set up Penn-Trafford's second score, as Vecchio took a screen pass and ran 25 yards into the end zone for a touchdown.
Latrobe did some good things offensively in the first half, moving the ball inside Penn-Trafford territory on its first two drives before being turned away. The Wildcats, whose first score came on a safety, cut their halftime deficit to 14-8 when Logan Carns found a diving Tyler Gustafson for a 5-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Carns finished with 118 yards passing.
“Logan, I feel, is the best player in the conference,” Reitz said. “It's just that he's got to get some help. When our line comes off the ball — and tonight they actually did a good job — Logan can do a lot of things. I thought we pass-blocked better. The last two games we haven't blocked anybody. The kids improved tonight, but we're still not happy we got beat.”
Penn-Trafford shut down Latrobe's offense in the second half. Carns finished with 4 yards rushing.
“Our defensive line did a really nice job bottling him up,” Ruane said. “Our defensive staff made some good adjustments. They were hitting us inside early. We changed up, and we just made sure we had our assignments.”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.