McKenzie leads Washington past South Fayette
Washington exorcised one demon from the 2011 season Friday night. Now, the Prexies will try to rid themselves of another at Heinz Field.
Shai McKenzie rushed for 293 yards and four touchdowns to lead No. 3 Washington to a 26-14 victory over No. 2 South Fayette in the WPIAL Class AA semifinals at Chartiers Valley High School.
“We watched films (on South Fayette) a lot,” McKenzie said. “We knew Beaver Falls ran on them a lot. We knew what we had to do. We're a running-style team ,and we like to just power the ball. We made it happen.”
With the victory, Washington (12-0) moved on to the WPIAL championship game, where it will meet No. 1 Aliquippa (12-0) at 5 p.m. Friday at Heinz Field.
The Prexies and Quips met in the WPIAL quarterfinals last season at Chartiers Valley. Aliquippa won that game, 36-6, holding McKenzie to zero rushing yards.
“We're a new team, they're a new team,” McKenzie said. “It's a new year.”
Friday night's battle of the WPIAL's top rusher in McKenzie and its top passer in South Fayette's Brett Brumbaugh went to the running back. Brumbaugh threw for 218 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score, but he also tossed two interceptions. South Fayette's previous low in points this season was 35.
“You can't completely stop a team like South Fayette from throwing the ball,” Washington coach Mike Bosnic said. “They're going to get their yards and they're going to make their plays. But (we) had the kids well-positioned. The kids worked really hard all week to prepare, and I'm really proud of them.”
McKenzie, meanwhile, passed former Fort Cherry star Mike Vernillo for the Washington County single-season rushing record. With 2,656 yards on the season, he needs 85 to pass Rushel Shell for the WPIAL single-season mark.
From the get-go, Washington's ball-control offense dominated.
The Prexies ran 22 offensive plays to South Fayette's five in the first quarter, possessing the ball for 10:21 and scoring on a McKenzie 8-yard run with 5.5 seconds left.
McKenzie struck again early in the second quarter, when he took a handoff and burst untouched through the middle for a 58-yard score.
But Brumbaugh ran for a TD and passed for another for a 14-all tie at halftime.
Washington retook the lead on the opening drive of the third quarter, when McKenzie scored on a 56-yard run.
Down 20-14, South Fayette drove inside the Washington 5, but the Lions turned it over on downs when Brumbaugh's pass to Tyler Challingsworth fell incomplete.
McKenzie sealed the win with a 7-yard run in the fourth.
“(We) came back with a strong second quarter, but the turning point was we need to score right there,” South Fayette coach Joe Rossi said. “We had opportunities.”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org