Late score leads Fox Chapel past Woodland Hills

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Friday, September 8, 2017 | 11:57 PM


Fox Chapel seemed to have lost composure and gone on its way to 0-3 with less than 10 minutes to go, but the Foxes made all the big plays late.

Quarterback Nick Gizzo scored a 3-yard option run on fourth down to tie the game with 43 seconds left, and Andrew Jeffrey converted the winning extra point to give Fox Chapel a 22-21 win over Woodland Hills on Friday in an Allegheny Nine game at the Wolvarena.

The Foxes (1-2, 1-1) weren't out of the woods, yet. Woodland Hills (1-2, 1-1) quarterback Michael Whiteherse completed four passes on the final drive to set Charles Hanchett up for a 43-yard field goal, but the attempt fell short on the end line.

“We got 3 or 4 yards on first and second downs, and we were on pace (to power it in), but on third down we got stuffed,” Fox Chapel coach Tom Loughran said. “We decided to zone block everybody and give the quarterback a chance to run or pitch on the option, and Giz made a nice run to get in there.”

Micah Morris led the Foxes with 174 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries, and Gizzo added 93 yards on 19 rushes. Woodland Hills was led by Rodney Dennard, who ran for 103 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.

Woodland Hills took a 21-12 lead with 9:51 left when Jayquan Smith intercepted a Gizzo pass that was tipped into the air by his receiver. But Fox Chapel replied with a 12-play drive that ended with a 23-yard field goal by Jeffrey, his second of the game.

The Wolverines then had a chance to put the game away on offense, but a bad snap caused a fumble, and Fox Chapel's Chase Villani fell on the loose ball to set his team up at the Wolverines' 30 with 2:44 to play.

“We're just going to go back to the basics, do some ball-security drills and work hard every day to get better,” Woodland Hills coach Tim Bostard said. “Our kids are resilient. They'll bounce back, and hopefully next week we'll come back on top.”

Prior to their comeback, Fox Chapel had done plenty to hurt its own chances. The Foxes were called for 14 penalties for 140 yards and had been stopped on an earlier fourth-and-goal play from the 1.

“We played out of control in the third quarter. One of our kids got tangled with one of their guys, and another of our kids felt compelled to come in and get a penalty,” Loughran said. “Now we're taking 30 yards of penalties that's putting us back on our own 20. That gave them momentum.”

Woodland Hills had its own share of miscues. The Wolverines lost three fumbles and gave up a safety with a snap on a punt that went out of the back of the end zone.

In the end, Fox Chapel's ability to control play up front — the Foxes has a 278-144 edge in rushing yards — made the difference. They also committed just one penalty in the final quarter.

“Micah did a real nice job running the ball. We know he's an outstanding running back, we know he can deliver in tough times and make tough yards for us,” Loughran said. “And I thought our offensive line did a real nice job dominating the line of scrimmage as the game wore on.”

Matt Grubba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at mgrubba@tribweb.com

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