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Central Catholic escapes with playoff win over Penn-Trafford

| Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, 8:54 p.m.
Central Catholic running back Luigi Lista-Brinza breaks away from Penn-Trafford's Dorian Stevens during their WPIAL Class AAAA first-round playoff game on Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, in Harrison City. Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review

Penn-Trafford's football season is over, but it didn't end without some exciting final moments.

The Warriors traded scores with Central Catholic throughout the night, but the Vikings ended up with just enough at the end to pull out a 30-27 win at P-T in the first round of the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs on Friday.

Running back Luigi Lista-Brinza had 167 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries to lead No. 11 Central Catholic (8-2), which advances to face third-seeded Upper St. Clair (9-1) in the quarterfinals. Senior quarterback Dorian Stevens led the Warriors (7-3) with 197 yards and three touchdowns on 11-for-17 passing.

“It was certainly a back-and-forth game, and the kids really battled hard,” Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane said. “Every time we'd go down a couple touchdowns, we'd punch one in. (The loss) wasn't for lack of effort, and obviously, Central Catholic is a great team.”

P-T held a 6-3 in the first quarter after a Tom Stinelli touchdown run, but the Vikings opened up a 17-6 advantage in the second quarter. That was when the Warriors resorted to the trick playbook and called for a hook-and-lateral to make something happen before halftime.

The play worked to perfection, with Stinelli making the reception from Stevens and pitching it to Dom Cima, who went 35 yards to cut the halftime lead to 17-12. The teams traded touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters, with Stevens throwing more traditional touchdown passes of 24 yards to Brian McDonough and 57 yards to Cima.

Trailing by three, Penn-Trafford had one last chance to score, but Stevens was intercepted by Joe Tindal at the Vikings 1-yard line with 1:05 to play. The Warriors used their timeouts and forced a Central Catholic punt as time expired, but Stevens was pulled down on the return to end the game.

Despite the loss, 2012 will go down as a second straight successful season for P-T football, which has 16 wins in the last two seasons.

“I'm happy that the kids set the bar high and reached for it,” Ruane said. “I think the kids and coaches are disappointed that we didn't make a playoff run, but I think the kids are proud that they proved a lot of people wrong. I think a lot of people didn't expect us to be good again because of the players we lost.

As for his seniors, who have played three years under Ruane, the P-T head coach gave them his thanks after the season.

“I told those guys how proud I am to be their coach,” Ruane said. “They came in every day in the offseason, and you get to watch them turn into men before your eyes. They're great kids, and they played the game the way it's supposed to be played.”

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or mgrubba@tribweb.com.

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