South Fayette overcomes slow start to beat Seton-La Salle
South Fayette started slowly but finished fast in routing Seton-La Salle, 31-7, in the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals Friday night at Peters Township.
“It's playoff football,” South Fayette coach Joe Rossi said. “We faced a little adversity we haven't faced all year.”
The Lions (11-0), the Century Conference champions, struggled to find rhythm early as quarterback Brett Brumbaugh's throws were off target.
And when he was on target, his receivers couldn't hold on.
Tenth-seeded Seton-La Salle hung tough in the first quarter, taking advantage of Brian Coyne's missed 37-yard field goal and forcing a turnover on downs when another Brumbaugh pass fell to the turf.
“They're a rival,” Rossi said. “It's never easy to play a team a second time.”
The Rebels, looking to avenge a 45-3 defeat in Week 5, drove 70 yards in five plays, aided by a personal-foul penalty, and took an early 7-0 lead on an 8-yard touchdown pass to Malik White from Tyler Perone.
But on the ensuing drive, South Fayette found a groove, moving 78 yards in 12 plays and scoring on a J.J. Walker 1-yard touchdown run. The teams headed to haltime tied 7-7.
“We shot ourselves in the foot a lot,” Brumbaugh said.
“We didn't collect (points in the first half).”
Seton-La Salle (8-3) looked to take back the lead on the opening drive of the second half, but Hayden Orler picked off Perone at the Lions' 25-yard line on fourth down to give South Fayette the ball. The Lions went on to score 24 unanswered points.
“Coaches made some nice adjustments, and we made plays,” Rossi said. “Conner Beck made tremendous plays. Brumbaugh throwing the ball all over the place and Watson — those are they guys we got to rely on as we move forward.”
Unlike the first quarter, Brumbaugh was locked in and found Beck on a bubble screen right for a 43-yard score before tossing touchdowns of 3 and 87 yards to Justin Watson.
“We knew we could score,” Brumbaugh said. “We just had to execute, and that's what we did.”
Brumbaugh went 31 of 51 for 446 yards and three touchdowns, and Watson finished with nine catches for 181 yards and two touchdowns. Beck added 11 grabs for 133 yards and a score.
The Lions' defense forced six turnovers, including four interceptions, and recorded four sacks. The No. 2 Lions will face No. 6 Beaver Falls next week at a time and site to be determined.
Justin Criado is a freelance writer.