Deontae Williams moves chains, leads Woodland Hills to 5A win over Bethel Park

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Friday, November 5, 2021 | 11:31 PM


Woodland Hills’ Deontae Williams rarely leaves the field for the Wolverines. So it was fitting that the senior quarterback was able to convert several fourth-down conversions in leading Woodland Hills to a 27-23 win on the road over Bethel Park in the first round of the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs Friday night.

Williams also put the Wolverines out front 6-0 when he capped a 14-play, 63-yard drive that took 7:45 with a 6-yard touchdown run. Williams carried the ball seven times on the drive for 43 yards.

“I can’t give Deontae Williams enough credit,” Woodland Hills coach Tim Bostard said. “Not only is he a good football player, he’s a great kid and a great leader. Tonight, he just wanted the ball in his hands at all times.”

Bethel Park quickly had the answer to the first Woodland Hills score. Freshman Ryan Petras returned the ensuing kickoff 55 yards to set the Blackhawks up at the Woodland Hills 32-yard line. Troy Volpatti carried the ball on the next three plays, finding the end zone from 2 yards out. The extra point gave the Blackhawks a 7-6 lead.

Austin Caye forced Amere Brown to fumble the ball on the next drive, which Caye recovered at the Wolverines 15-yard line. Senior Cody Geddes then kicked a 25-yard field goal to put Bethel Park up 10-6.

The game turned for both teams late in the second quarter, courtesy of three consecutive Bethel Park turnovers. Dinari Clacks fumbled a punt that was recovered by Jaden Weems. The Blackhawks defense stepped up and forced a Wolverines punt that pinned Bethel Park at its own 1.

After a first down, Sonny McClinton intercepted a Max Blanc pass and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown that gave Woodland Hills a 13-10 lead with 1:55 left before halftime.

Another pick six for Woodland Hills 21 seconds later upped the score to 20-10. The freshman Brown made amends for the fumble, as he jumped a pass route and returned the interception 46 yards for a touchdown.

“We tried to keep things mixed up to keep the quarterback second guessing,” Bostard said. “Sometimes that helps when you get a quarterback flustered. He threw one and turned around and threw the second one.”

“It’s hard to win and overcome mistakes like that,” Bethel Park coach Brian DeLallo said.

A bad snap forced Woodland Hills to punt from its own end zone and Bethel Park took advantage of a short field when Petras took an end around and scored from 31 yards to pull the Blackhawks within three at 20-17.

Woodland Hills authored another long scoring drive early in the fourth quarter, this time marching 80 yards in 14 plays. Williams, who had a 20-yard touchdown run wiped off the board by a holding call, hit Tommy Drake on fourth-and-18 to keep the drive alive, which Brandon Jones capped off with a 2-yard run.

Bostard said the Wolverines are comfortable in third- and fourth-down situations.

“If we can keep it fourth and manageable with the guys that we have, we have a shot,” he said. “Tommy Drake went up and made a great play on the ball.”

Bethel Park nearly turned it over on the ensuing drive when Jack Kirchner fumbled, but Petras recovered the ball and the Black Hawks capitalized with a trick play. Volpatti threw for a touchdown on a halfback option pass, this time finding Kirchner from 24 yards. But the extra point snap was bobbled and the pass attempt failed, keeping Woodland Hills up by four with 8:40 remaining.

Bethel Park never got the football back. Woodland Hills took over possession at its own 30-yard line and ran 15 plays to finish off the 27-23 victory. Williams was again key on the drive for the Wolverines as he converted several third downs and one more fourth down to seal the win. The Wolverines held the football for 35:20 on the evening.

“We just couldn’t get off the field,” DeLallo said. “Give the credit to Woodland Hills. They outplayed us tonight.”

“We told the guys this week this game was going to be won up front,” Bostard said. “At the end, we came up with a couple of first downs to beat a good football team.”

Volpatti was a bright spot for No. 8 Bethel Park, rushing for 101 yards on 20 carries. The senior finished his final season with 1,068 yards rushing. The Black Hawks (5-6) end the year on a three-game losing streak.

No. 9 Woodland Hills (5-6) has won four of five games. Williams paced the offense for Woodland Hills, carrying the ball 34 times for 138 yards and a touchdown.

Woodland Hills earns a rematch with top-seeded Moon next week in the 5A quarterfinals.

Moon’s a great team on both sides of the ball, once again it’s going to be a two or three chin-strap game,” Bostard said, referring to the physical nature he expects next week.

The Tigers defeated the Wolverines, 15-0, on Sept. 10 at the Wolverena in Turtle Creek.

“We got down in the red zone against them I think four or five times,” Bostard said. “That will obviously be a point of emphasis for us this week as far as execution.”

Watch an archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

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