Williams tosses 6 TDs as Clairton sets state scoring record
The admirers lined up to get a picture with sudden pass-happy quarterback Ryan Williams. The Clairton senior obliged them all, then turned his attention back to the Bears' PIAA Class A quarterfinal victory Friday night.
Williams bettered his sparkling WPIAL championship game passing performance of a week ago by throwing for career highs of 342 yards and six touchdowns to lead Clairton to a 52-24 victory over District 5 champion Berlin Brothersvalley at Elizabeth Forward and into the Pennsylvania record books for scoring.
Clairton, which will face District 10 champion Sharpsville on Friday night in the semifinals at a site to be determined, has scored 886 points this season, breaking the old state record of 860 set by the 2007 Jeannette Class AA state championship team.
The national record is 1,023 by Aledo (Texas) in 2013.
Williams set a couple of personal marks after getting 301 yards and five touchdowns in a 46-14 WPIAL title game victory over Avonworth last Saturday at Heinz Field.
“It's big games now and as a senior, I've got to step up and be a leader,” said Williams, who completed 21 of 31 passes and didn't throw an interception.
He also scored on a 1-yard run to give Clairton some breathing room to start the third quarter after Berlin Brothersvalley rallied to cut the halftime lead to 13 points.
This latest outing for Clairton (14-0) wasn't as easy as it may have looked. The Bears, after jumping to a seemingly comfortable first-half lead, found themselves in a bit of a dogfight entering the second half.
Berlin Brothersvalley junior running back Braden Fochtman sliced through the Clairton defense for 493 all-purpose yards — 241 on rushing and 252 on kick returns — as the Mountaineers (12-2) tried to keep the momentum going after trailing 30-17 at the half.
“They made it to the state playoffs, just like we did,” Williams said. “They weren't going to come in here and lay down. We knew they were going to try to challenge us. That's what teams do at this level. (Fochtman) didn't particularly stand out on film, but he was the best running back we've seen all year.”
Clairton coach Wayne Wade tipped his hat to Berlin Brothersvalley, and seemed almost appreciative of the Mountaineers' efforts to make it tougher than perhaps expected against the WPIAL's top offensive and defensive team.
“They've got some players over there,” Wade said. “Fochtman is an excellent athlete, and he showed his athleticism to get almost 500 all-purpose yards against a team that has the type of speed that we do.”
After Williams' short TD run gave Clairton a 36-17 lead in the third, Fochtman outran the Clairton defense for an 89-yard touchdown run to make the score 36-24.
But Williams then threw back-to-back touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to Lamont Wade of 11 yards and James Hines of 4 yards to settle the outcome.
As it had been doing all year, Clairton got started in a hurry, scoring on its first four possessions and led 30-7 midway through the second quarter. Williams threw touchdown passes to four different receivers.
“You can't stop everything with a team like Clairton,” Berlin Brothersvalley coach Doug Paul said. “We tried to mix and match on offense and defense. They are just a great team.”
Hines nearly broke free on the opening kickoff before freshman kicker Carter Raupach tackled him at the Berlin Brothersvalley 45.
After a pair of runs netted minus-3 yards, Williams hooked up with running back Wade on a 45-yard scoring pass and Noah Hamlin ran for the 2-point conversion to give Clairton an 8-0 lead.
Williams hit Aaron Mathews on a 15-yard touchdown pass on the Bears' second possession with Wade rushing for the 2-point conversion to push Clairton ahead 16-0.
Hines was the next to catch a touchdown pass from Williams, covering 46 yards as Clairton took a 22-0 lead heading to the second quarter.
Berlin Brothersvalley momentarily stopped the Bears' momentum, feeding off Braden Fochtman's 64-yard kickoff return to score on Bryce Fochtman's 2-yard run, cutting the lead to 22-7.
Williams, who completed his first nine passes, found Jjuan Jackson on a 20-yard scoring strike to put Clairton up 30-7 and give Clairton the state scoring record before Berlin Brothersvalley went to work on making it a game.
Braden Fochtman returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown, pulling Berlin Brothersvalley within 30-14. The Mountaineers got the ball back and drove deep into Clairton territory before settling for Raupach's 20-yard field goal to make it 30-17 at halftime.
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.