McKeesport turns tables on Penn Hills, advances to Class 5A semifinals

Friday, November 8, 2019 | 10:56 PM

For the second consecutive year, third-seeded Penn Hills met McKeesport in a WPIAL Class 5A quarterfinal, and this time, the script flipped.

In 2018, the Indians defeated the Tigers in route to a WPIAL championship. Friday night, it was the sixth-seeded Tigers (9-3) who clawed their way to a 35-20 upset at Hempfield High School.

Senior quarterback Devari Robinson led the Tigers’ flex-bone offense effectively, rushing for three touchdowns in the first half, allowing McKeesport to build a 21-0 lead at halftime. Fourth-year coach Matt Miller said Robinson’s abilities are a key component to making the offense successful.

“He’s absolutely amazing,” Miller said. “That’s what makes this thing go four us, and he’s a great trigger man, great kid, leader on and off the field. You can’t stop saying postitive things about the kid.”

Robinson’s three first-half scores came from 2, 35 and 12 yards.

Penn Hills (10-2) broke the shutout on its second possession of the second half with a 9-yard rushing score from junior Dontae Topeck, making it 21-7. The touchdown was a result of halftime adjustments made by coach Jon LeDonne and his staff. .

“(We) got Eddie (McKissick) out in space and let him throw the ball a little bit,” LeDonne said. “We started doing our assignments better on some plays.”

Topeck would add a second touchdown late in the fourth quarter, but by then, the Tigers’ lead was too large.

Robinson accounted for two more scores in the second half: one from 30 and 44 yards. The latter score pushed McKeesport’s lead to 35-14, a deficit the Indians wouldn’t be able to conquer.

“McKeesport came out and hit us maybe a little faster than we thought they would, but they found the mismatch and hit the gaps,” LeDonne said. “We had some assignment issues early on, and it ended up costing us.”

Robinson’s five touchdowns and 197 yards on 23 touches was a large part of McKeesport reversing last season’s result.

“Right now, we’re going to enjoy this one. They don’t come that often, but we’ll tighten everything up as much as we can,” Miller said.

Topeck’s two scores were accompanied by a 6-yard McKissick touchdown run in the second half.

The Tigers will have a rematch from two weeks ago next week when they meet Big East conference foe Gateway. Miller is excited to see the second-seeded Gators once again.

“There’s four teams left. You expect it to be the four best teams,” Miller said. “If you want to play the best and see if we can do something a little better than we did a couple weeks ago.”

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