Sto-Rox stops Clairton in WPIAL Class A semifinals
After two fumbles and a pick-six within a span of a couple of minutes, Lenny Williams wasn't very happy with himself.
The WPIAL's most prolific passer of all-time picked the wrong time to have the worst half of his scholastic career — the Class A semifinal Friday against four-time defending champion Clairton.
“I told my teammates at halftime that it was going to be the real Lenny out there in the second half,” Williams said.
Indeed it was.
Williams returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown. He then led the Vikings on a game-winning drive that he capped with a 22-yard quarterback draw in the waning moments as Sto-Rox ended Clairton's 22-game playoff winning streak with a 24-19 win at Chartiers-Houston.
Sto-Rox (12-0) will play at Heinz Field in the Class A title game for the third year in a row at 11 a.m. Nov. 23 against Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, a 27-14 winner over Neshannock.
“Some of those mistakes he made were on him, and he owned up to them,” Sto-Rox coach Dan Bradley said. “He said at halftime that he would overcome that and lead us to victory, and that's what he did.”
Williams completed 11 of 19 passes for 140 yards but hurt Clairton most with his legs. Williams, who came into the game averaging less than 40 yards rushing per game, ran 23 times for 133 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns.
Williams accounted for all but 64 of Sto-Rox's 337 total yards.
“He's a good player,” Clairton coach Tom Nola said. “We had him a number of different times, but he always seemed to get out of it.”
None was bigger than with two minutes left and Clairton leading 19-18.
Sto-Rox faced third-and-2 at the Clairton 22-yard line with less than two minutes left. Bradley called a quarterback draw “to pick up the first down.” Williams provided more than that.
He shook off a tackler and raced around the left end for the winning touchdown. It was at least the third time Williams shook a couple of Clairton tacklers for big gains.
“We have been here before,” Williams said. “We did everything we could to keep playing, and we came through. This feels good, but this isn't what we came for. We didn't just want to beat Clairton. We want to play in the championship.”
Darryll Johnson intercepted Ryan Williams at midfield with 30 seconds left to seal the win for the Vikings and send the Bears to their first playoff loss since November 2007.
“It hurts,” Nola said. “Our kids played really hard but just came up a little short.”
Clairton got 68 yards rushing and a touchdown from Harrison Dreher but couldn't manage much offense other than that. Vance Allen returned a Williams interception 30 yards for a touchdown, and Aaron Mathews caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Williams.
“It's sad that it came to an end,” Nola said.