Penn-Trafford rolls up 411 yards rushing to topple McKeesport
Now, George Smith knows how the other half lives.
For years, McKeesport's motto was simple: Line it up, knock the guy across from you in the mouth, don't care if the opposition knows you are going to run the ball, doesn't matter if you know who is getting the ball, and have absolutely no answer to stop it.
That's exactly what Penn-Trafford did to McKeesport in the decisive second half of Friday's Class AAAA quarterfinal game at Norwin, and it resulted in the Warriors' first trip to the semifinal since 1997 with a convincing 35-20 win over a McKeesport team that hadn't trailed since the first quarter of a Week 2 game against Woodland Hills.
Penn-Trafford will play top-seeded Central Catholic, a 27-21 winner over Gateway.
“You know what,” a dejected Smith said following the game, “they did what basically we do to other people. They blew us off the ball, and their offensive line knocked us around.”
Tom Stinelli rushed for 159 yards and Devin Austin 136 as Penn-Trafford racked up 411 yards rushing.
“That's what we want to do when we get on the field,” Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane said. “We want to knock people in around.”
Stinelli did his share of that in the decisive second half.
Stinelli was thrust into the lead role at running back early in the second half when Austin was lost for the game with a head injury. Stinelli, who had sore ribs and a busted lip, rushed for 134 of his yards in the second half, including all 73 on an eight-play drive in a 28-20 game late in the fourth quarter.
“Man, did he run hard,” Ruane said. “He pounded them, and they were tired of tackling them.”
Stinelli felt like they were breaking McKeesport's will late in the game.
“They were tapping out,” Stinelli said. “That's what we kept saying: If we keep pounding, they are going to tap out.”
McKeesport's flexbone offense was held in check for the majority of the game mostly because of three turnovers.
“They gave us two touchdowns the first meeting,” Smith said. “This time we had their penalties, we fumbled the snaps, we did everything we didn't do all year.”
McKeesport racked up 330 yards or rushing, led by Mikell Moore (104) and Allen Wright (100), but had no answer for Penn-Trafford's power running.
The game had a wild start to it that included an interception in the red zone, a fumble after a 40-yard run, a fumble after a sack, a 44-yard touchdown run, a 55-yard touchdown run and a 10-yard touchdown within the first 20 plays of the first quarter as McKeesport led 14-7.
“We had a bad first quarter, but we responded after that,” Ruane said.
The game stayed 14-14 until midway through the second quarter when Brett Laffoon hooked up with Ryan Marasti for 52 yards down to the 3-yard line to set up Austin's second touchdown of the game to knot the score at 14-14.
After trading scores to make it 21-20, P-T used an 11-play, 75-yard drive and took the lead when Laffoon plunged in from a yard to make it 28-21.
“We are clicking at the right time,” Ruane said. “This is a real big deal for us. People keep counting us out. Keep doing it.”
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib