Bethel Park completes breakout regular season with win over rival Peters Township

Saturday, October 29, 2022 | 12:13 AM

Two seasons ago, Bethel Park went winless.

Last year, the Black Hawks rebounded and made the playoffs, falling in the first round to Woodland Hills.

This year, Bethel Park wasn’t getting a lot of preseason love from the outside, but the Black Hawks and coach Brian DeLallo knew what was coming back and the experience the roster had going into 2022. They knew the expectations in the locker room were big, and the first goal set was to win the program’s seventh conference title.

The Black Hawks clinched a share of the Class 5A Allegheny Six in Week 8 with a win over South Fayette then clinched the conference outright with a hard-fought 27-21 win over Peters Township at home on senior night.

In a game that was ugly at times, with both teams putting the football on the turf at least three times, Bethel Park (9-1, 5-0 5A-1) led 27-7 before seeing Peters Township (6-4, 3-2) fight back to within one score, only to come up empty on three possessions driving for a lead in the fourth quarter.

“I think both teams made mistakes. … It was kind of a sloppy game,” DeLallo said. “In terms of a close game, it’s what we expected. We have a ton of respect for (coach) TJ (Plack) over there and his kids, you know, we’ve kind of modeled our program after theirs in some ways. When you play your neighborhood rival for a conference championship in Week 9 and you get these close games, the ball bounces a certain way, and you get this.”

The Black Hawks started the scoring on their first drive of the game that began after a Peters fumble. Tanner Pfeuffer snuck in from a yard out for the score.

Gavin Moul scored the next two touchdowns for the Black Hawks to open a 20-0 lead. After Moul’s scores, from 2 and 4 yards, Bethel Park failed on a two-point run attempt after a penalty and got a PAT from Kaden Wetzel.

Peters Township got on the board to close the half when freshman quarterback Nolan DiLucia scored on a 9-yard keeper.

“The first half, we made some mistakes and they kind of bit us in the butt, and we had to play from behind the whole game,” Plack said. “The good thing is our defense always gives us a chance and we were able to run the ball tonight, which helps us move the ball and keep them off the field.”

The Indians were much better in the second half. The Hawks punted to start the half but got the ball back on an interception by Dinari Clacks, which gave the Hawks a short field to find the end zone, which they did with a 27-yard pass from Pfeuffer to Ryan Petras to make it 27-7.

Petras finished the day with 146 yards on the ground on 18 carries and caught every completion Pfeuffer had.

It was another strong night for the sophomore, who has stepped up in the backfield in the absence of senior Austin Caye, who was available Friday night but never entered the game.

“They did a good job of clogging up the middle, so we were able to get him to the edge and you see, a couple times they had unblocked guys and he’d get a guy on the ground and use his wheels to get to the edge,” said DeLallo. “He’s a special player.”

The Indians scored twice in the final two minutes of the third quarter with a fumble recovery on the kickoff in between.

DiLucia found Carter Shanafelt and Reston Lehman for touchdowns of 6 and 10 yards.

Neither team found the end zone in the fourth quarter, with Bethel Park fumbling inside the 5 and Peters being stopped on two extended drives before a hook-and-ladder play failed at the game’s conclusion.

With the other results around Class 5A, the Indians are eliminated in a season where Plack said his staff thought they were ahead of schedule with some youth, but his group is still disappointed in the result. It’s the first time since Plack’s first season Peters will not play in the postseason, ending a run of five straight berths.

“When we see how well our guys played tonight, we just wanted another shot at it … just another shot,” Plack said.

The close game could pay dividends for the Black Hawks, who figure to be the No. 1 seed in the 5A playoffs.

“You don’t want to panic when games get close or you get down and we kind of had that mindset when we requested the teams we did in nonconference to make sure our team was battle tested,” said DeLallo. “This kind of game helps because everyone is good when eight teams make it.”

There won’t be many sleeping on the Hawks now, as the team has won the Allegheny Six and a conference title for the first time since 2017.

“So many of these kids started two years ago on a team that didn’t win a game. They heard it from the community and in school, but they were essentially a JV team playing varsity, so for them to have this two-year metamorphosis and run the table in what I think is the toughest conference in Class 5A, maybe in the state, is special,” said DeLallo. “I kind of like that the kids were down a bit and not satisfied with this one tonight, but I want them to celebrate a little bit.”

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