Explosive plays carry Penn-Trafford football past Moon in WPIAL title game

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Sunday, November 28, 2021 | 6:42 PM


Moon football coach Ryan Linn said earlier in the week that the team that it the big pass play would probably win.

He was partially right.

Sure Penn-Trafford connected on a 92-yard touchdown pass from Carter Green to Cade Yacamelli, but it came down to the Warriors’ explosive plays in their 24-21 victory in the WPIAL Class 5A championship Saturday at Heinz Field.

The Warriors also got a 53-yard touchdown run by Yacamelli and a 29-yard, winning, touchdown run by Green. Yacamelli also had an 80-yard touchdown run — featuring three broken tackles and a devastating stiff arm — nullified by a penalty.

Moon gashed the Warriors’ defense with a prodding ground game in the first half to take a 21-17 lead at halftime.

“It was a tale of two halves,” Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane said. “We didn’t hold the ball the first half, and they did. Thank goodness we had two big explosive plays to keep us in it.”

The Tigers never scored in the second half. They lost a fumble and were stopped inches short on fourth-and-1 at the Penn-Trafford 42, in the third quarter.

The Penn-Trafford did a lot better job controlling the Tigers’ running game.

“We weren’t getting off blocks in the first half,” Ruane said. “They were reaching us, and we did a much better job using our hands in the second half.

“We were also messing around with the footing on the turf, and we stopped doing that in the second half. We just played better. We played better football.”

This us unchartered territory for the Penn-Trafford football team.

After celebrating the title Saturday, it was back to work Sunday to prepare for the program’s first PIAA playoff game.

The Warriors will face District 3 champion Exeter Township (10-3), which shocked the state when it defeated Governor Mifflin, 31-28, on Friday at Bald Eagle Area High School in Wingate. Governor Mifflin routed Exeter Township, 54-21, during the season.

Bald Eagle Area, located near State College, is a two-hour, 15-minute trip for Penn-Trafford and a three-hour trip for Exeter.

Exeter Township was able to shut down one of the top running backs in the state, Nicholas Singleton, who was held to 41 yards on eight carries. During the regular-season game, Singleton rushed for 244 yards and four touchdowns.

Exeter Township senior running back Eric Nangle had a big game, carrying the ball 40 times for 213 yards. He also caught two passes for 36 yards, and he scored two touchdowns.

Quarterback Colin Payne completed 13 of 21 passes for 160 yards and three touchdowns. Senior tight end Joey Schlaffer, a Penn State commit, caught five passes for 55 yards and two touchdowns.

Police escort

After winning the school’s first WPIAL football title, the team got a police escort from the Penn Township Police Department from Heinz Field to the high school stadium.

Joining the escort were the local fire and ambulance services.

Penn-Trafford athletic director Kerry Hetrick said the team was greeted by at least a thousand fans at the school to celebrate the achievement.

The band and cheerleaders were also there, and Ruane spoke to the crowd.

Game ball

After the game in the locker room, quarterback Carter Green presented Ruane the game ball for coaching the team to the school’s first WPIAL football title.

Ruane the addressed the team and told him how proud he was of them for all their dedication and hard work.

He told them they showed the people who doubted they could him.

A win for the past

At the team’s Thanksgiving practice, 15 former players came and talked to the players and offered words of encouragement.

Ruane said he feels proud of the players for how hard they work, how dedicated they are and how team oriented they are.

“I’m thankful for the 15 former players that came to practice, and they were winning for all of them,” Ruane said. “That’s the thoughts of our teams the past 12 years.

“Everyone loved playing here, and they’re like a family to us. I was really happy for everybody involved.”

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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