RB Hayes boosts South Fayette to 2nd straight state title
HERSHEY — South Fayette won another state title in history-making fashion, but this time, it wasn't with a passing record.
Seconds after an emotional goal-line stand, junior Hunter Hayes scored the longest touchdown run in state championship history, a 95-yarder that let the Lions set another, more important, record. Defending state champion South Fayette became the first team to win consecutive PIAA Class AA titles with a 28-16 victory over Dunmore at Hersheypark Stadium.
“(We won) by air last year when we threw for 300,” South Fayette coach Joe Rossi said. “This year, by ground. When you get in these types of games, you have to have both.”
Hayes rushed for a career-high 263 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries. Lions quarterback Brett Brumbaugh, the state's first passer with 11,000 career yards, built a collection of WPIAL and PIAA records.
Now, Hayes owns one.
“I can't absorb it yet,” Hayes said. “But I know that once I get on the bus, in like an hour, I'll start feeling it. It's just awesome. The whole thing is awesome.”
With the victory, South Fayette (16-0) finished a second straight undefeated season.
The Lions have won 32 consecutive games, a streak that includes a 41-0 win over Imhotep Charter in last year's state final. But unlike that blowout, South Fayette needed a second-half surge to beat Dunmore (14-2).
District 2 champion Dunmore led 16-14 at halftime. Late in the third quarter with first-and-goal at the 2, the Bucks approached the end zone again. South Fayette's defense held them out.
A first-down penalty backed Dunmore to the 7. Three carries by running backs Colin Holmes and Garrett Murray gained only 2 yards combined. On fourth down, Dunmore quarterback Eric DeLucci threw incomplete into the end zone from the 5.
Holmes and Murray each had more than 100 yards rushing. Murray had 119 yards on 18 carries with a 34-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Holmes had 106 yards on 27 carries and a 4-yard TD in the second quarter.
But neither found the end zone after halftime. South Fayette outscored Dunmore, 14-0, in the second half. In five possessions, the Bucks punted twice, fumbled once and had two failed fourth-down conversions.
Linebacker J.J. Walker led South Fayette with 12 tackles. Matt O'Rourke and Jack Relihan each had eight.
“Our defense is incredible,” said Hayes, a free safety who had seven tackles. “We all work as one. We were able to get big stops when we needed them.”
One snap after the stop, Hayes sprinted into the record books. With 14 seconds left in the third, South Fayette led 21-16.
“I just turned around and looked for my brothers to come up and hug me,” Hayes said. “I knew they were chasing right behind me. I gave them a big hug.”
Hayes' first touchdown was an 8-yarder for a 7-6 lead in the first quarter. The 6-foot, 190-pound rusher also fumbled three times, but that was forgiven in the winning celebration.
The only TD run in PIAA playoff history longer than Hayes' was a 99-yarder by Curwensville's Shawn Sopic in a 2004 Class A quarterfinal against Rochester.
“You don't know if they're going to run or throw,” Dunmore coach Jack Henzes said. “If they do run, he's a big back.”
Brumbaugh completed 8 of 18 passes for 120 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He graduates with 11,084 career yards, most in PIAA history. Senior wideout Ryan Schmider caught a 9-yard touchdown in the second quarter and sophomore Dan Trimbur had a 37-yarder in the fourth.
Brumbaugh needed 334 yards Saturday to break the state's single-season passing record. After a tough first half that included an interception on his second throw, that state record was out of reach. Instead, Brumbaugh celebrated Hayes' record day.
“I'll just sit back and watch him do his thing,” Brumbaugh said. “I'm his biggest fan.”