Defense, back-up RB lift Woodland Hills football over Pine-Richland in playoff opener
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Pine-Richland owned the most-productive Class AAAA offense in the WPIAL this season.
But the Woodland Hills defense isn't bad, either.
Woodland Hills didn't allow a point until its offense had built a three-touchdown lead in Friday night's 35-14 first-round victory over Pine-Richland in the WPIAL playoffs at the Wolvarena.
The Wolverines held only a 6-0 lead at halftime, but their defense held strong long enough for the offense to break through.
“The defense was phenomenal in the first half,” Woodland Hills coach George Novak said. “It's a team defense — I don't think there are any stars. They all play hard together.”
Woodland Hills senior Trevon Mathis returned the second-half's opening kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown, and junior Art Thompkins added three rushing touchdowns.
The Wolverines were without their leading rusher, injured sophomore Miles Sanders. In his place, Thompkins rushed for 140 yards and three scores on 19 carries. His scoring runs covered 29, 16 and 33 yards.
Thompkins typically plays slot receiver and safety. When Sanders missed Week 8, Thompkins scored four times.
“They're both outstanding running backs,” Novak said.
No. 4 Woodland Hills (8-2), the WPIAL runner-up last season, will face No. 5 Seneca Valley (9-1) in next Friday's quarterfinals. Seneca Valley beat No. 12 Hempfield, 36-10.
It was a learning experience for No. 13 Pine-Richland (5-5), which started only three seniors.
“They were the better team tonight,” first-year Pine-Richland coach Eric Kasperowicz said. “I told the guys, that's what we want to be. We want to be like Woodland Hills and be respected around the WPIAL. ... It would have been a nice springboard to get this victory, but at least they got in the atmosphere and understand the intensity of the WPIAL playoffs.”
Pine-Richland junior Connor Slomka rushed for 48 yards and a pair of 2-yard touchdowns. But his first touchdown came with Woodland Hills leading 21-0.
Woodland Hills scored on its first possession. A 5-yard run by quarterback Harry Randall gave Woodland Hills a 6-0 lead with 3:14 left in the first quarter. Randall's run finished an 11-play, 65-yard drive.
Those were the only first-half points by either team.
Pine-Richland led Class AAAA this season in offensive yards, but its first-half possessions produced just two punts and a fumble.
Trailing 6-0, Pine-Richland had a first down at Woodland Hills' 19-yard line with two minutes left before halftime. But Wolverines junior Akira McClean sacked Ben DiNucci on consecutive snaps to force a punt.
Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- HSFB preview by position: Familiar faces coaching in new places
- Falcons focused on cutting down mistakes
- Class AA breakdown: Revamped Allegheny Conference among many changes
- Uniontown’s Perkins transitions from O-line to running back
- McGuffey looking to spread it out on offense
- Century after 1st WPIAL title, Wilkinsburg tries to ‘reintroduce our history’
- Gorman: McNeilly Road rivalry renewed
- Dudek adds explosiveness to trio of Kittanning backs
- Class AAAA breakdown: Trio of contenders could challenge perennial powers Woodland Hills, Central Catholic
- Class AAA breakdown: With perennial contender Gateway joining Greater Allegheny, trend of championship Parkway teams could be challenged
- Class A breakdown: WPIAL realignment shakes up conferences