Upper St. Clair QB dominates Peters Towship
If there were lingering doubts about Pete Coughlin being one-dimensional, he tossed them aside.
The Upper St. Clair quarterback threw five touchdown passes in Friday night's 42-14 victory over Peters Township, contradicting the run-first tag applied to him when his legs carried USC to victory in last year's playoffs.
And those legs still work. The senior ran 68 yards for another touchdown Friday in a performance certain to open eyes around Class AAAA.
“For sure,” said Coughlin, who completed 9 of 11 passes for 249 yards, “because now they'll have to respect the pass and the run from our offense.”
USC scored on four of its first five possessions, including touchdown throws from Coughlin to three different receivers. Mike McGuire caught a 32-yard touchdown, Morgan Lee had a 9-yarder and Mike Krenn had a 72-yarder. Most came with Coughlin outside the pocket.
“Pete is opportunistic,” USC coach Jim Render said. “He's got an accurate arm. He's not a pocket passer, per se, but he causes a lot of problems when he's got the ball on the run.”
Coughlin rushed for 110 yards as USC built a 28-7 halftime lead.
When Coughlin added a third-quarter touchdown pass to Tim Witenske (32 yards) and another to McGuire (65 yards), the Panthers' lead reached 35 points, enacting the mercy rule. The clock ran continuously for the game's final 15 minutes.
“The first two games people might have said they didn't know if Pete could throw the ball,” McGuire said, “but I think he really proved it tonight. He threw a lot of great passes.”
The victory keeps No. 3 USC (3-0, 3-0) atop the Quad Central.
For at least 14 seconds Friday, No. 8 Peters Township (2-1, 2-1) seemed prepared for its first ever victory over USC. Mike Minjock returned the opening kickoff 95 yards, sprinting along the left sideline to give his Indians a 7-0 lead.
Victories over conference opponents Baldwin and Penn Hills had boosted the Indians' confidence. But USC dashed those upset dreams.
On USC's first possession, Coughlin led the Panthers 61 yards in nine plays, including a 19-yard pass to junior Ben Haus. Facing fourth-and-11, the drive nearly stalled at Peters' 32-yard line, but Coughlin lofted a pass to McGuire deep in the end zone. The touchdown tied the score, 7-7, with 7:14 left in the first quarter.
The second possession covered 66 yards in nine plays — eight runs and a 9-yard touchdown pass to Lee. The third possession lasted just two plays, ending with a 68-yard touchdown run by Coughlin to lead, 21-7, just 2:11 into the second quarter.
Peters couldn't keep pace. The Indians offense lost yardage on two of its first three possessions and gained just 1 yard on the other.
Minjock added a 47-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter.
“We knew they were going to focus on him,” Peters Township coach Rich Piccinini said, “because he's been our workhorse so far.”
Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-380-5666.