South Fayette tops Charleroi in 2 OTs
SOUTH FAYETTE - Friday night, the Charleroi Cougars showed their doubters that they can play at the Class-AA level and be competitive.
Unfortunately, it wasn't enough as they dropped a heart-breaking 24-23 double overtime contest at South Fayette.
"I'm proud of our kids," coach Nick Milchovich said. "I would have rather won the game, but we showed that we will not be a pushover."
Charleroi (1-1, 0-1) dominated the first half in every aspect with the exception of on the scoreboard.
Although they led 7-0 at the half, the Cougars held the Lions (2-0, 1-0) to negative-27 yards and no first downs in the opening 24 minutes.
"We did a great job in the first half," Milchovich said. "We played well in the second half as well, but they started to sustain some drives."
South Fayette took the opening drive of the second half and tied the score on a Dillon Sauers two-yard run.
The Lions, who only ran 10 first half plays, used 18 plays and took 10:23 off of the clock in the third quarter.
Despite the long drive, Milchovich was not worried about his team being deflated after dominating the first half and then being tied with less than two minutes to go in the third quarter.
"We were up and knew we were in a ball game," he said. "But our guys did not get down. We knew what we had to do."
The tie did not last for long as it took the Cougars two plays and 0:36 to take the lead right back.
Doug Haney hit Ethan Hank with a 76-yard touchdown pass to give the guests the lead back.
Hank's score remained the difference until the 4:44 mark of the fourth quarter when Jon Taglianetti hit Sean McElhinny with a 10-yard touchdown pass.
Charleroi mounted a drive and reached the Lions' 22-yard line with under two minutes to go, but the Cougars could get no closer.
The Lions won the overtime coin toss and after the Cougars stuffed them, Drew Hazera nailed a 24-yard field goal for a 17-14 South Fayette lead.
Charleroi could not punch the ball in on its first overtime possession and relied on a 29-yard Kolton Ramsdell field goal to send the game into the second overtime frame.
Charleroi got the ball first and on the first play, Dave Grillo took the handoff and carried half of the Lions defense to the one-yard line from the eight.
Two plays later, Haney scored on a quarterback sneak to give the guests a 23-17 lead.
But unfortunately for Charleroi, Ramsdell's extra point attempt was blocked by Rich Kreush.
South Fayette took over and on the first play, Charleori was mere inches from ending the game.
Taglianetti lofted a pass into the left flat and Cougar linebacker Alan Basel tipped the ball as he just missed a game-ending interception.
As if happening in excruciatingly slow motion, the tip ended up in the hands of the intended receiver, DeJay Ramous, and he walked into the end zone.
"The kid made a great play to catch the ball," Milchovich said. "But Alan also made a solid play. He just missed the interception."
Hareza booted the extra point for the win.
The loss could also prove to be costly for Charleroi in terms of personnel.
Jermaine Thurston, the team's featured back, took a helmet to the shin and ankle.
Basel and Josh Farner were also being checked after the game for possible injuries.
Charleroi hosts South Park in its home opener on Friday.
"We have to bounce back from this one," Milchovich said. "We know what we need to do."
NOTES: Alex Luckasevic scored Charleroi's first touchdown on a six-yard run. The Cougars played without Roman DiPiazza who was sick. Charleroi held South Fayette to 28 yards rushing on 33 carries. Haney finished 6 of 15 for 135 yards. Grillo (49) Thurston (48), and Luckasevic (42) combined for 139 yards on the ground.