No. 2 South Fayette races past Greensburg Salem

Friday, September 13, 2019 | 10:37 PM

Greensburg Salem was fully aware of how good South Fayette can be after losing twice to them a season ago.

But being prepared for the defending WPIAL champs is far different from stopping them.

South Fayette, the No. 2 team in Class 4A, leaned on its running game to score on seven of its first eight possessions on the way to a 49-0 nonconference road win over Greensburg Salem on Friday at newly resurfaced Offutt Field.

Senior running back Andrew Franklin had 106 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries for South Fayette (3-1), and junior Shay Aitken added 40 yards and a touchdown after replacing Franklin in the second half.

Junior quarterback Naman Alemada was efficient despite posting his lowest yardage total of the season. The South Fayette passer was 11 of 17 for 192 yards and two scores, but apart from a 37-yard touchdown pass on a deep sideline ball to Ryan McGuire, most of Alemada’s work was short and intermediate passes.

“Whatever we think is working, we’re going to go with,” South Fayette coach Joe Rossi said. “If it’s the run game, it’s the run game. If it’s throwing the ball all over the crib, it’s throwing the ball.”

Despite the final scoreline, Greensburg Salem (1-3) held its own early in the game against the Lions.

On its first two possessions, Greensburg Salem moved the ball as far as South Fayette’s 34- and 20-yard lines, respectively. But Franklin blocked a fourth-down pass at the line of scrimmage on the first drive to force a turnover on downs, and two straight incompletions from Greensburg Salem quarterback Trent Patrick ended the second drive in the same fashion.

“I thought we did some good things, at times, and I wasn’t disappointed with the way we played in the first half,” Greensburg Salem coach Dave Keefer said. “We missed two opportunites, and we’ve got to get those opportunities when we’re down on that end. We exchanged those couple of possessions, and if you get points on them, maybe you give yourself a chance to compete and be in the game. But they’re a good football team, and they won the WPIAL championship for a reason.”

The South Fayette defense limited Greensburg Salem to 85 yards of total offense, a number skewed somewhat by a 21-yard loss on a bad shotgun snap by the Golden Lions’ second unit. Still, it was an impressive performance considering Greensburg Salem had 69 yards in the first quarter.

“(Greensburg Salem’s) offense is good. Their quarterback is good, and they’ve got a lot of the same numbers out there we played against last year. Last year, at half, it was 28-14,” Rossi said. “Greensburg came out in the first quarter and did some good things, some good designs. But I think after the first two drives, we settled in, got to the ball and got to the quarterback.”

Junior Joseph Audia led South Fayette’s receivers with 89 yards on six receptions, including a diving 15-yard catch in the corner of the end zone for the game’s first score. Sophomore Logan Yater ended the scoring with a 39-yard interception return, as South Fayette showed off its depth in all phases of the game.

“They’ve got the personnel, and they do a good job,” Keefer said of South Fayette. “They’ve got numbers in their favor, and they understand what they want to do — pressure you in the run game, bait you up with bubble stuff and screens, and then throw the ball around, distribute the ball really well.

“I thought we played better defensively, and we did stop the run some and forced a punt on them, which not a lot of teams do. But when you have three-play possessions, they get the ball back and turn it into points quickly.”

Patrick was under steady pressure all game, limiting the Greensburg Salem senior to 61 yards on 6-for-22 passing and two interceptions, one of which came on a Hail Mary pass to end the first half.

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