Charleroi advances to Class 2A semifinals with victory over Mohawk
By: Jose Negron
Friday, November 9, 2018 | 11:03 PM
Charleroi’s road to Robert Morris’ Joe Walton Stadium rolls on.
The fourth-seeded Cougars advanced to the WPIAL Class 2A semifinals with a 42-13 victory over No. 5 Mohawk in a quarterfinal matchup Friday night at Moon’s Tiger Stadium.
Charleroi (10-1) scored 35 unanswered points in the second half to earn a meeting with No. 8 South Side Beaver in the semis next week at a site and time to be determined.
“We had to make some adjustments at halftime and had to calm down a little bit,” Charleroi coach Lance Getsy said. “We had to make adjustments to how they were attacking our offense. We just started reading and attacking the outside a little bit.
“(Mohawk is) a great team and that was a big win for us because that team is very good with a lot of good players.”
Hunter Perry was a big part of the Cougars’ success offensively.
The senior running back, who had just over 40 carries entering Friday night’s game, took charge of Charleroi’s backfield with Brayden Mihalcin out with a leg injury.
Perry finished with 23 carries for 108 yards and rushing scores of 22, 1 and 6 yards in the second half. He also had two receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown.
“All year I feel like I was kind of hidden. I was the secret weapon almost,” Perry said. “Now I came out and I don’t think they expected me to be in the backfield at all. It’s definitely a great feeling to have been back there running the ball.”
Getsy knew Perry, who had more than 1,000 yards rushing last season, was capable of the type of performance he showed Friday night.
“We were just holding him back a little bit because he’s a kid who can do so many things,” Getsy said. “He’s just one of those unselfish kids that you love to coach.”
The Cougars trailed 13-7 at halftime but wasted little time regaining a lead they initially captured early in the second quarter.
On the third play of its opening second half drive, Charleroi took a 14-13 lead as Geno Pellegrini found Perry on a screen pass. Perry took care of the rest, marching 64 yards for the Cougars touchdown.
Perry added a 22-yard score on Charleroi’s next drive, extending the lead to 21-13 with 7:33 remaining in the third quarter.
A 5-yard run by Pellegrini, who went up the middle untouched, and a pair of short scampers by Perry accounted for the rest of the Cougars’ second half points.
The Charleroi defense was also influential in the team’s second half success.
The Cougars forced Mohawk (9-3) to commit four turnovers — two interceptions and a pair of fumbles. Three of those turnovers occurred in the second half, including interceptions by Dom Pellegrini and Dakota Romantino.
“Our defense really stepped up and played a great game,” Getsy said. “A credit to my defensive coordinator (Mike LeDonne) and our kids on defense, they stepped up in the second half and really did a great job shutting them down.”
Neither team got on the board in the opening 12 minutes, but it was the Cougars who dealt the first blow in the second quarter.
After forcing Mohawk to punt for the third time, Charleroi started their first drive of the second at the Warriors’ 35-yard line.
A 10-yard run by Geno Pellegrini along with a 16-yarder from Perry got the Cougars down to the Mohawk-9. Pellegrini capped off the quick drive by breaking a tackle and scampering up the middle to make it 7-0 Charleroi with 10:38 remaining in the first half.
Pellegrini was efficient in the passing game, completing 7 of 16 passes for 167 yards and a score, but was also a weapon on the ground. He ran 12 times for 70 yards and two touchdowns.
“It comes down to the fact that you can’t key on one guy with this offense,” Getsy said. “It’s a great balance that we have.”
Mohawk put its first points on the board on its next drive.
After an incomplete pass and a sack on Nick Wheeler placed Mohawk in a third-and-19 situation, the senior quarterback dropped back and found Dmitry Pendro wide open down the sidelines. Pendro, who had 113 yards on a pair of receptions, broke away and was brought down at the 16-yard line for a 65-yard completion.
Two plays later, Braydon Cameron ran one in from 5 yards out to make it 7-6 after a missed extra point by Dylan Lloyd.
Cameron finished with 118 yards on 23 carries in the loss.
“We gave the effort but one big play gave them the momentum,” Getsy said of his team’s first half performance. “We killed ourselves on some drives. Those little things get to you but those things don’t get to us.”
The Warriors forced the Cougars to turn the ball over on downs on their next drive and Mohawk took advantage of good field position.
Starting at the Charleroi 47, Mohawk used runs by the tandem of Cameron and Jake Stapleton to get down to the 13-yard line. Wheeler capped off the seven-play drive with a 13-yard touchdown run to make it 13-7 with 3:14 left in the half.
Wheeler, who ran for 20 yards on four carries, completed 4 of 18 passes for 125 yards and a pair of interceptions.
“We knew we could rebound from it and our kids went into the locker room at halftime and believed in our game plan,” Getsy said. “They came out and they executed it.”
Jose Negron is a Mon Valley Independent staff writer.