Gateway’s Body makes up for earlier drop, catches winning TD against Bethel Park

Friday, November 8, 2019 | 11:36 PM

Patrick Body didn’t want to go home. Not after dropping a pair of passes during a scoreless first half, the second one in the end zone that seemingly would have gone for a touchdown.

The sophomore Gateway wide receiver made up for those blunders in the final minute Friday night, catching a 28-yard touchdown pass from Bryson Venanzio to lift the second-seeded Gators to a 17-13 victory over No. 7 Bethel Park in a WPIAL Class 5A quarterfinal-round game at Norwin.

Gateway (10-2) will play No. 6 McKeesport, a 35-20 winner over No. 3 Penn Hills, in the semifinals next Friday at a site to be determined.

“All I was thinking about was we can’t go out this early,” Body said. “When I caught it, I could see the end zone. When I got in there, I felt a lot better about myself.”

John Gummo’s 25-yard field goal with 2 minutes, 41 seconds left put Bethel Park (7-4) ahead 13-10 before Venanzio engineered the winning drive, including four completion for 49 yards, the last to Body, who shed several Bethel Park tacklers to score with 38 seconds left.

The victory moved Gateway into the semifinals for the fourth consecutive season. Bethel Park hasn’t made it past the quarterfinals since 2009.

“All you can do is be happy in this setting, in the WPIAL quarterfinals, that you found a way to win,” Gateway coach Don Holl said. “I think they (Bethel Park) would say the same thing. I used to golf with my Uncle Walter when I was a kid, and he said it’s not how. It’s how many. It’s not how you got the ball in the hole, as long as you get it in the hole.”

Gateway found a way to put the ball in the end zone when it mattered.

All the scoring came in the second half, though Gateway threatened early in the second quarter.

The Gators advanced to the Bethel Park 1 but failed to score in. After a 4-yard loss, Gateway went for it on 4th-and-5 and looked as though it would break through.

But Body dropped Venanzio’s pass in the end zone, and the game remained scoreless.

Gateway tried once more to reach paydirt before the half, frantically racing against the clock and reaching Bethel Park territory before time expired.

“They made some plays, and we defended pretty well all night,” Bethel Park coach Brian DeLallo said. “I thought we had a pretty good chance, but credit to them. They made some great plays. It’s hard to contain them for 48 minutes.”

Bethel Park went on top on quarterback Anthony Chiccitt’s 2-yard plunge.

Venanzio, who completed 12 of 23 attempts for 179 yards, threw a 69-yard touchdown pass to Chamor Price to pull Gateway even at 7-7.

The teams traded field goals for a 10-10 tie heading to the fourth quarter, Gummo kicking a 23-yarder for Bethel Park and Jayson Jenkins countering with a 32-yarder for Gateway. Gummo’s second field goal in the fourth put Bethel Park back in front 13-10.

Bethel Park’s Jehvonn Lewis returned a kickoff 78 yards to the Gateway 15, setting up Gummo’s first field goal and the Black Hawks’ short-lived 10-7 lead.

After Jenkins’ field goal that again tied the score 10-10, Brandon Cole’s fumble recovery at the Gateway 27 set up Gummo’s go-ahead 25-yarder for Bethel Park.

Gateway got the ball back with 2:41 left and maneuvered downfield behind Venanzio, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound senior.

Several runs by Derrick Davis mixed in well with Venanzio’s passing, which culminated with his winning strike to Body down the right sideline.

“You always wonder how you will be when the chips are down,” Holl said. “The kids acquitted themselves very well. They just said, ‘We’re not going to lose.’ Bryson had his moments. We’ve been pretty critical sometimes, but he certainly found a way to get us to win the game.”

The last time Gateway and Bethel Park had had met in a WPIAL playoff game, the Black Hawks stunned the Gators, 10-6, in the 2008 Class 4A championship game for Bethel Park’s only WPIAL football title

Said DeLallo: “I feel bad for our seniors. They busted their butts. We made some mistakes as coaches that cost us. They made some mistakes on the field that cost us. It’s sad for these guys. It’s such a big group, and I love them. We started 21 seniors in 22 spots on offense and defense. It’s kind of like starting over now.”

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