Dugger brothers lead Penn Hills past Fox Chapel in key Northeast Conference game

Friday, October 15, 2021 | 10:33 PM

Penn Hills recorded three touchdowns in the second half of Friday’s Class 5A Northeast Conference game at Fox Chapel.

The scores broke open a tied score at halftime.

Julian Dugger found brother Jaden for three touchdowns, and the quarterback added a rushing score as the Indians finished off a 28-7 victory.

With the win, Penn Hills moved to 4-3 overall, 2-1 in conference play and clinched a spot in the WPIAL playoffs.

“This was a big win for us on the road,” Penn Hills coach Jon LeDonne said. “Fox Chapel was a 2-0 team in the conference and had a lot of momentum coming in. We put ourselves in a good position with two games left.”

Penn Hills hosts Shaler next week and finishes conference play at Kiski Area.

Fox Chapel, which topped Shaler and Kiski Area the past two weeks, fell to 4-4 overall and 2-1 in the conference. The Foxes clinched a playoff spot last week.

“We are in the playoffs, and we’re trying to stay positive,” said Foxes coach Tom Loughran, who will guide his team into games at North Hills next week and then at home against Pine-Richland to cap the conference slate.

“Both teams we have are ahead of us in the standings. We’re going to try and regroup and see what we have moving forward to get ready for those games.”

Penn Hills limited Fox Chapel to 43 total yards in the second half and 133 for the game. Fox Chapel quarterback Collin Dietz went over 1,000 yards passing for the season against Kiski but was limited to 45 against the Indians.

Penn Hills forced a Khi’Lee Patterson fumble on the first play of the second half. The Indians converted as the Duggers connected on a 6-yard pass play to take the lead for good.

Patterson was injured on the play and didn’t return.

The Duggers again connected late in the third, this time from 43 yards to extend the advantage to two scores.

Julian Dugger’s 1-yard plunge with 8 minutes, 3 seconds left in the fourth quarter put the game away.

“We challenged them at halftime to come out in the second half with some energy and some swagger,” LeDonne said. “We were kind of dead in the first half. We were missing a couple of starters tonight and had some guys stepping up. We were moving guys around and getting them in position. They took the halftime challenge, accepted it and played hard.”

Julian Dugger finished 9 of 19 passing for 103 yards. Jaden Dugger caught five passes for 58 yards.

The defenses held sway for most of the first half as the teams combined for eight punts.

The Foxes got on the board first on their second possession of the game. They needed just four plays to go 53 yards. Zidane Thomas broke a tackle and rambled the final 35 into the end zone.

Thomas finished with 74 yards on 15 carries.

The point-after kick from Harlan Sheehan was true, and Fox Chapel led 7-0 with 1:58 left in the first quarter.

Penn Hills got the equalizer midway through the second quarter, and the 20-yard scoring drive was set up by a 43-yard punt return from Cameron Thomas.

Fox Chapel stopped the Indians at the 13 and forced a field-goal attempt, but the Foxes were flagged for offsides, giving Penn Hills a first and goal at the 8.

On the ensuing play after the penalty, Julian Dugger found Jaden Dugger for the touchdown. The PAT from Owen Williams tied it 7-7 with 5:54 left in the first half.

“We just made too many mistakes tonight, and we should be beyond that. But for some reason we aren’t,” Loughran said. “We have some injuries that we’re dealing with and moving guys into different spots. We just have to be more cohesive of a unit to be able to overcome those things.”

Watch an archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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