Late touchdown lifts Penn-Trafford into WPIAL Class AAAA title game
There is something special about this Penn-Trafford football team.
Just when things looked bleak, the Warriors refused to quit. Take Friday.
No. 2 Penn-Trafford (12-0) needed a clutch drive in the final 52 seconds to edge No. 3 Pine-Richland, 38-34, in the WPIAL Class AAAA semifinals at Penn Hills.
The victory puts Penn-Trafford in the finals — its first since 1997 — against No. 4 Central Catholic, which upset No. 1 Woodland Hills. The finals are Saturday at Heinz Field.
Tyler Bruno caught the winning 20-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brett Laffoon to cap the Warriors' comeback.
Pine-Richland (10-2) took a 34-31 lead on Jimmy Graf's fourth touchdown run, but the Rams left the Warriors too much time.
“This is unbelievable,” Bruno said. “That ball seemed to take forever to get to me. Coach (John Ruane) told me to run an out-and-up, and no one covered me. Wow.”
The teams exchanged scores throughout. There were no punts, and the teams combined for 901 yards. Penn-Trafford outgained Pine-Richland, 503-398.
“I was just thinking that we could have tried to run off more time of the scoreboard,” Pine-Richland coach Eric Kasperowicz said. “They have a great team, and they made one more play than we did.”
Laffoon completed 19 of 33 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns. He hit Tim Vecchio on a 59-yard score in the first quarter and then Jonah Lisbon on a 14-yard strike in the second.
“I looked forward to those moments at the end of the game,” Laffoon said. “It was time for me to be a man. We weren't going to lose this game. There was no doubt in our minds.
“When I threw it to Tyler and saw their defensive backs left him free, it was like a dream come true.”
Laffoon also rushed for 95 yards and two scores. Vecchio caught seven passes for 128 yards, and Lisbon rushed for 117 yards.
“Brett was the ultimate Warrior,” Ruane said. “We did everything we could on offense against that team. We knew we had to outscore them. I thought our defense played well. That's a ridiculous team to play.
“Colin McDonough got us a big-time stop with the interception to set up a touchdown, the play of the game. I felt the entire team stepped up.”
After McDonough's interception, Laffoon scored from the 5 to make it 31-27 with 4:48 left.
Pine-Richland then put together a big drive, aided by a pass-interference penalty to reclaim the lead 34-31 with 52 seconds remaining. Graf rushed for 76 yards and scored on runs of 6, 1 and 12 yards.
Rams quarterback Phil Jurkovec had a solid performance.
He rushed for 111 yards and completed 11 of 17 passes for 178 yards.