Lisbon, No. 3 Penn-Trafford stun top-ranked Gateway

Friday, August 30, 2019 | 11:29 PM

It turned out to be a “painful” victory for Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane.

During Cole Defillippo’s 31-yard interception return to seal a 28-7 victory against No. 1 Gateway, Ruane believes he ruptured the Achilles tendon in his right leg.

Using a pair of crutches after the game for support, Ruane answered questions about his team’s impressive victory and the performance by his defense in the “Battle for the Bell” at Warrior Stadium.

The classic WPIAL Class 5A Foothills Conference battle was a hard-hitting defensive effort by both teams with the No. 3-ranked Warriors sending a message.

The star of the night was Penn-Trafford senior safety Caleb Lisbon, who picked off three passes and scored a touchdown on a 12-yard run to extend the lead to 21-7. Defillippo’s 31-yard return iced the game moments later.

“I got hurt on Defillippo’s return,” Ruane said. “It’s painful.”

After all Penn-Trafford wins at home, the team rings the “Victory Bell.”

“It was a team effort, so all of us had a hand in ringing it,” Lisbon said. “Their long touchdown run didn’t affect us much. We knew we had to come back out and step up our game. I was mad because I missed a tackle.”

Gateway took a 7-0 lead when star running back Derrick Davis, who left the game with cramps in the fourth quarter, raced 66 yards on Gateway’s first offensive play.

After that run, the Penn-Trafford defense clamped down. They picked off Gateway quarterback Bryson Venanzio five times and recovered a fumble on the first play of the second half.

“Our defense played great,” Penn-Trafford tackle Derrick Sutherland said. “At P-T, we believe the next play matters the most. So we didn’t get down on ourselves. Davis is a very good player, and they’re a very good team.”

After Gateway scored, Penn-Trafford responded as quarterback Gabe Dunlap ran the ball six times in a nine-play drive and scored the tying touchdown on a 1-yard run.

Dunlap rushed for 119 yards on 19 carries. He also fumbled at the Gateway 1 in the second quarter.

“We came back and put together one of our few good drives after they scored,” Ruane said. “The defensive hit to begin the third quarter showed we were ready to play in the second half.”

Dunlap used his elusiveness to give Penn-Trafford a 14-7 lead in the third quarter when he scrambled to his right and tossed a 34-yard touchdown pass to Ethan Carr.

That score came after Lisbon’s second interception stopped a Gateway drive at the Penn-Trafford 5.

His third interception of the game midway through the final quarter set up his clinching 12-yard touchdown run.

“Caleb doesn’t get the credit defensively,” Ruane said. “He’s a tremendous football player. He does it every week. We challenged him because the first two weeks last year, he wasn’t himself.”

Davis finished with 100 yards rushing for the Gators.

Gateway was turned away later in the first quarter when wide receiver Jayden Hurt, on a trick play, was intercepted by Lisbon at the Penn-Trafford 5.

“Did I expect at defensive struggle? Yes and no,” Gateway coach Don Holl said. “We have some you guys who are untested. We have a sophomore center, two new guards and lost a guy who left the team, and he was a starter on defense and offense.

“And then we played poorly. They forced us into mistakes, and we had a lot of unforced mistakes. We have to get better.”

Penn-Trafford looked like it was going to take the lead following a 44-yard run by Sam Fanelli on a fake punt in the second quarter.

But on fourth-and-goal from the 1, Dunlap fumbled and Jaquan Thomas recovered at the Gateway 4.

“It was a great, hard-hitting football game,” Ruane said. “That’s what we expected, and we had to match them.”

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

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