McKeesport rushes past Franklin Regional

Friday, October 18, 2019 | 11:05 PM

McKeesport football coach Matt Miller will be rooting for Franklin Regional next week.

That’s because if the Panthers upset No. 1 Penn-Trafford and McKeesport beats No. 2 Gateway, McKeesport will share the WPIAL Class 5A Big East Conference title.

If the Tigers (7-2, 4-1) play like they did Friday at Franklin Regional, they could make noise next week.

McKeesport played a near-perfect first half, scored on its first three possessions and cruised to a 31-14 victory.

The running attack of quarterback Devari Robinson and fullback Tyron Adams-Wagner combined to rush for 394 yards. Robinson ran for 211 yards scored three touchdowns and Adams-Wagner 183. McKeesport rushed for 442 yards.

“We still can play better,” Robinson said. “We still had too many penalties. But our coaches gave us a great gameplan, and we executed it well.”

McKeesport did a great job controlling the clock with its option offense. The Tigers found a weakness in the middle of the Panthers defense and exploited it.

“They out-executed us,” Franklin Regional coach Greg Botta said. “We had to match them score-for-score, and we didn’t capitalize on our field position.”

The two plays Botta pointed to were a 12-yard third-down run the Tigers converted on their first possession and a fourth-and-1 play the Panthers didn’t at the McKeesport 25 early in the second quarter.

The teams exchanged touchdowns on their first possessions.

Robinson capped a 66-yard drive with a 1-yard run, and the Panthers countered with a 76-yard drive which Franklin Regional quarterback Trevor Brncic finished with a 5-yard run.

But the Tigers went on a 61-yard drive on their next possession with Robinson setting up the score.

Faced with second-and-15, Robinson started left, gained 10 yards and then flipped a pitch to running back Vernon Andrews, who covered the final 45 yards for the score.

“We were able to move the ball and up front did a great job,” Miller said. “That was the plan: try to hold on to the ball, especially in the fourth quarter.

“Franklin Regional is tough. They play everyone tough. I’ll be rooting for them.”

Robinson’s 2-yard run in the second quarter made it 21-7.

The Tigers defense, namely Andrews, picked off a pass in the end zone to preserve their lead.

“We failed to execute our assignments to slow them down,” Botta said. “We couldn’t stop them. We did a couple times, but we didn’t when we needed to. We lost the turnover battle, and they out-executed us.”

McKeesport got a 28-yard field goal in the third quarter from Anthony Beitko to make it 24-7.

Franklin Regional cut the lead to 24-14 with 9:45 left when Brncic connected on a 3-yard touchdown pass to Jerraine Turner, but the Tigers effectively ran off 8 minutes off the clock and Robinson scored off a 16-yard scamper on fourth down.

Brncic completed 10 of 17 passes for 131 yards, and the Panthers had 286 total yards. Zac Gordon rushed for 77 yards on eight carries.

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

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