Penn-Trafford rallies for overtime win, clinches playoff spot

Friday, October 28, 2022 | 11:13 PM

Things didn’t look good for the Penn-Trafford football team midway through the fourth quarter Friday.

In a game they needed to win to make the playoffs, the Warriors trailed Franklin Regional by a touchdown and had just turned the ball over.

But Penn-Trafford reverted to the form that won it WPIAL and PIAA Class 5A titles in 2021, forced a turnover and put together a huge drive to tie the score and send the game into overtime.

The Warriors got a go-ahead touchdown from quarterback Conlan Greene in the first overtime, and then the defense stood tall and finished the game with a Joe Enick sack to pull off a miraculous 28-21 victory to secure a wild-card berth in the WPIAL playoffs.

“We needed a break,” Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane said. “The defense came up with a turnover, and the offense came up with a huge drive. The defense has done it all year.

“The trick play following the holding penalty was the big play. I thought Tommy Kalkstein played an amazing game.”

After Franklin Regional linebacker Owen Sinclair’s interception gave the Panthers the ball at the Penn-Trafford 30, Carmen Metcalfe caused a fumble that Greene recovered at the Penn-Trafford 23.

After a holding penalty put the ball on the 12, Ruane called for a reverse pass that got the team out of the hole. Daniel Tarabrella hit Kalkstein for 18 yards. After that, Kalkstein and Owen Demari did the rest, driving the ball down the field. Kalkstein’s 24-yard run set up Demari’s 2-yard plunge to tie the score with 2 minutes, 28 seconds left.

Kalkstein later intercepted a pass at the Penn-Trafford 18 to end Franklin Regional’s with 1:07 left.

“This game reminded me of the Shaler game,” Franklin Regional coach Lance Getsy said. “We were driving and turned the ball over, and they came back to win in overtime. The bottom line is if we don’t turn the ball over, we win.”

It was the third time this season Franklin Regional, the champion on the Big East Conference, lost in overtime. It finished the regular season 6-3 and 4-1 in the conference. It should get the higher seed in the conference because it defeated Gateway (7-3, 4-1) head-to-head.

“It was a good football game,” Getsy said. “We fought to the end. Sometimes it’s hard to overcome all the things we had to overcome during the game. I’ll just leave it at that.”

The Panthers turned the ball over twice and had six penalties for 59 yards.

Penn-Trafford used a 58-yard kickoff return to open the game to grab a 7-0 lead. The big return set up Greene’s 13-yard score.

Franklin Regional responded behind the arm and legs of senior quarterback Roman Sarnic to tie the score. Sarnic scored on a 2-yard run.

The Warriors reclaimed the lead 14-7 when Greene, on fourth down, connected on a 30-yard touchdown pass to Metcalfe. The score was set up when the Penn-Trafford defense stopped Sarnic on fourth-and-1 at the Franklin Regional 40.

“I love our kids,” Ruane said. “They play with so much character and so much heart. We’ve had a ton of adversity, but that doesn’t much matter now.”

Ruane said trying to slow down Sarnic is a difficult task.

Sarnic tossed a 68-yard touchdown pass to Ayden Hudock on the second play of the third quarter to tie the score 14-14, and then he raced 6 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to give the Panthers a 21-14 lead.

Sarnic’s 17-yard run on fourth down kept the drive alive. Sarnic rushed for 95 yards and he completed 9 of 14 passes for 127 yards. Hudock caught seven for 117 yards.

“He’s one of the best kids in the WPIAL,” Ruane said of Sarnic. “You can’t say enough about him. He does so much. You think you have him wrapped, and he’s slippery and he escapes. He’s one heck of a football player.”

Penn-Trafford rushed for 189 yards with Greene and Kalkstein rushing for 64 yards apiece and Demari 61.

Both teams will find out who they will play in the WPIAL playoffs 2 p.m. Saturday when the WPIAL announces the playoff pairings.

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

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