Woodland Hills hangs on for win over Bethel Park
Two quarters of offense was enough for No. 2 Woodland Hills to outlast Bethel Park on Friday.
Led by the backfield tandem of seniors Miles Sanders and Jo-El Shaw, who combined for 267 rushing yards and three scores, Woodland Hills scored all its points in the first half of a 28-23 home win over the Black Hawks.
“They're getting better every week,” Woodland Hills coach George Novak said. “We'll continue to get better. We're coming. We're a long way from ready, but we're coming.”
While the the Wolverines' electric running game produced most of the game's highlights, their defense gave them a stellar performance, forcing four turnovers and scoring a touchdown on a fumble recovery by senior lineman Wilford Clark early in the second quarter.
“We turned it over a few times ... but we got a couple (turnovers) too,” Bethel Park coach Jeff Metheny said. “So we had our chances, but that's a really good football team.”
After Woodland Hills (2-0, 2-0) was forced to punt trailing 10-7 in the second quarter, Shaw burst through the Bethel Park (0-2, 0-1) offensive line on first down and broke up a toss from Bethel Park senior quarterback Levi Metheny to sophomore John Doleno. After multiple players from both teams failed to recover the fumble, Clark fell on the ball in the endzone for a Woodland Hills touchdown.
“On the stunt, I take the defensive end's place,” Shaw said. “I saw the quarterback, and that's my priority. I thought he was about to pitch it, so I went with my gut, and I was blessed to get it.”
For the second straight week, Bethel Park challenged one of the top teams in Class AAAA. The Black Hawks lost 28-12 to No. 1 Central Catholic in week one before pushing the Wolverines.
The game had five lead changes — all in the first half — before Sanders put Woodland Hills in the lead for good.
Trailing 17-14 in the second quarter, Sanders reeled off a 67-yard touchdown run on the first play of the Wolverines' drive to put his team in the lead. Much like his 81-yard touchdown run that was called back for a hold in the first quarter, Sanders made one cut off the left tackle and outraced the Bethel Park secondary to the end zone.
On the next drive, with Bethel Park threatening to retake the lead at the Woodland Hills 11-yard line, the Wolverines defense forced Metheny out of the pocket and into a throw that was tipped and then intercepted by Wolverines senior Tyriq Thompson on a diving play in the endzone.
Sanders then struck again, taking the next play 57 yards for a score on a catch-and-run from quarterback Daron Cooper that stretched the lead to 28-17 with 43 seconds left in the half.
“We just couldn't tackle (Sanders),” Jeff Metheny said. “He's just a man. And (Shaw) might be worse. Did you see that kid? He's a beast.”
Shaw has just as much confidence in Sanders and himself.
“We don't like to brag or boast,” he said, “but I say if you put us up there in the (WPIAL running back rankings), we're pretty high.”
After Woodland Hills opened the scoring with a 13-yard run by Shaw, Bethel Park got on the board with a 32-yard field goal from Kelsey Tischler with less than two minutes to play in the first quarter.
The Blackhawks wasted no time adding to their scoring total. Doleno recovered the ensuing kickoff after a Woodland Hills player muffed a squib kick by Bethel Park. On first down, Metheny found Charlie Davis behind the defense for a 30-yard touchdown pass to take a 10-7 lead.
Following Clark's fumble recovered for a touchdown, Bethel Park retook the lead on its next drive. A 1-yard plunge by Metheny capped a 50-yard drive, which was sparked by a 25-yard run by Doleno on the first play.
Gary Horvath is a freelance writer.