Big plays help Woodland Hills overcome bout with flu, Franklin Regional

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Friday, November 4, 2022 | 9:57 PM


Woodland Hills football players battled the flu all week in preparation for their first-round playoff matchup with Franklin Regional. Judging by the result, it did not affect them.

Two big first-half touchdown passes from Wolverines quarterback Cam Walter to Scoop Smith propelled No. 6 Woodland Hills to a 21-0 win over No. 3 Franklin Regional in the WPIAL 5A playoffs Friday night in Murrysville.

Smith scored on pass plays of 44 and 68 yards on two short scoring drives. Each of Woodland Hills’ first-half possessions were short, consuming just under six minutes.

“These kids are resilient. Our motto is ‘Wolverine Pride: To achieve you must endure,’ ” said Wolverines coach Tim Bostard. “They endured getting over the flu, and on Monday we only had 20 kids at practice. They just sucked it up and banded together. We knew this was going to be a two chinstrap game.”

Meanwhile, Franklin Regional ran 34 plays for 103 yards in the first half, using more than 18 minutes of clock but scoring zero points. Panther drives ended on two punts, a fumble and a field goal attempt that bounced off the left upright.

“They were more physical than us. We did move the ball a little bit, but when it came down to it, they made plays,” Panthers coach Lance Getsy said. “We gave up two plays in the first half. I thought our defense played well other than those two plays.”

The first of the two big plays came thanks to another big play by the Woodland Hills defense. Andre Smith sacked Franklin Regional quarterback Roman Sarnic and stripped the ball. Woodland Hills recovered at midfield.

Three plays later, Walter lofted a deep ball for Smith, who ran under it for a 44-yard touchdown and a 7-0 Wolverines lead.

The Panthers’ next possession ate up 7 minutes, 55 seconds of the second quarter clock but was halted at the Woodland Hills 33-yard line. Franklin Regional was forced to punt.

The Wolverines started at their own 10-yard line on the next possession. Four plays into the drive, Walter found Smith on a short out route, and Smith did the rest. Smith made two defenders miss and rocketed down the sideline for a 68-yard touchdown to make it 14-0 with 2:07 left in the half.

“Anytime you play Woodland Hills, everyone knows we have some athletes that can make some great plays,” Bostard said. “Scoop made some terrific plays and broke the game open. He’s amazing. I don’t know if you’ll find a better kid to watch in ninth grade than him.”

The Panthers’ Ayden Hudock returned the ensuing kickoff 76 yards to the Woodland Hills 22-yard line. But Franklin Regional failed to get a first down, and Joey Bayne’s 37-yard field goal attempt hit the left upright and fell short.

The Panthers had three additional second-half possessions, but none of them brought points. The lone score of the second half came on yet another big play as Frank Keyes scored on a 73-yard run to cap the scoring and send Woodland Hills past the first round for the second straight season.

Keyes ended the night with 131 yards on 16 carries. Smith had 140 total yards on five touches.

The Wolverines will play No. 2 Pine-Richland at a site to be determined next Friday.

Watch an archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

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