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Penn-Trafford holds off Connellsville

| Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, 11:39 p.m.
Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review
Connellsville's Dylan Knopsnider looks for yardage in the first half against Penn-Trafford on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013.
Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review
Connellsville's Darrell Ross (7) breaks free from the grasp of Penn-Trafford's Zack Queen (6) after catching a pass from quarterback Jade Maher in the first half Friday, Oct. 4, 2013.
Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review
Penn-Trafford's Tom Stinelli (center) works to gain extra yardage through Connellsville defense in the first half Friday, Oct. 4, 2013.
Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review
Connellsville's Darrell Ross (7) crosses the goal line after catching a pass from quarterback Jade Maher (not pictured) in the first half at Penn-Trafford on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013.
Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review
Penn-Trafford's Devin Austin (center) breaks through Connellsville's defense in the first half Friday, Oct. 4, 2013.
Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review
Penn-Trafford's Devin Austin (center) shakes Connellsville's Anthony DeMarco in the first half Friday, Oct. 4, 2013.

Penn-Trafford survived a sloppy second-half performance to earn a 21-15 win over Connellsville in Quad East action Friday night at Warrior Stadium.

Down six points and with less than two minutes to play, the Falcons marched 55 yards to Penn-Trafford's 30-yard line to set up a final play with six seconds left. Connellsville quarterback Jade Maher heaved a pass to wide receiver Darrell Russell in the end zone, but Russell couldn't secure the ball. As the ball hit the ground, so did the Falcons' hopes of a comeback.

“Connellsville came out strong,” Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane said. “They opened up their passing book a little bit, and they found some stuff they like and that was effective. It was a battle all night.”

Connellsville (1-5, 1-4) pulled to within five points after a botched Penn-Trafford punt snap resulted in a third-quarter safety.

Penn-Trafford (4-2, 4-1) controlled the ball for most of the quarter on its ensuing drive and extended the lead to 12 on quarterback Brett Laffoon's 6-yard pass to Brendan Reddy with 1:05 left in the third.

But the Falcons refused to go away, as Maher continued his impressive performance — he completed 13 of 25 pass attempts for 148 yards and two touchdowns — by hitting tight end Jimmy DeMarco for a 10-yard touchdown with 7:52 remaining.

Connellsville had an opportunity to drive for a lead with 3:53 left but made a crucial mistake on a trick play. On first-and-10, Maher pitched the ball to Dylan Knopsnider, who was intercepted by Penn-Trafford linebacker Tom Stinelli on the halfback option, giving the Warriors the ball and forcing the Falcons to use all their of their timeouts during the next drive.

“We just didn't get over the hump,” Connellsville coach David McDonald said. “We had some opportunities, but you have to give Penn-Trafford some credit for that. We had the momentum going in the second half; we were moving the ball. We really just didn't capitalize when we had the opportunity to capitalize.”

In addition to his defensive performance, Stinelli impressed at running back. He capped a nine-play, 66-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown run through the left side of Connellsville's defense to give the Warriors a 14-7 lead.

“We expect him to play like that every week,” Ruane said. “He's as tough as they come. He's a dream to coach. He's going to give you everything he has every single week.”

Penn-Trafford running back Devin Austin also had a strong game, finishing with 82 rushing yards on 24 carries.

Wes Crosby is a freelance writer.

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