Penn-Trafford scores every which way, routs Franklin Regional

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Friday, October 23, 2020 | 10:29 PM


Penn-Trafford won’t be recognized as a conference champion but the Warriors sure played like one in their regular-season finale.

And these Warriors showed what they can do with a full week of practice.

Fourth-ranked Penn-Trafford did a little of everything, executing offensively, defensively and on special teams, on the way to a decisive 56-7 victory over Franklin Regional in a Class 5A Big East game Friday night at Panther Stadium.

Momentum will be on their side heading into the WPIAL playoffs.

The Warriors (5-1, 4-0) finished in first place, a half-game ahead of Gateway, and will get a home game next week in the first round — along with a top-four seed. They have been one of the most dominant teams in the classification playing at Warrior Stadium.

Higher-seeded teams will play at home through the semifinals.

Unless the WPIAL committee sees it another way in the wild-card selection, Franklin Regional (4-3, 2-3) had its streak of 16 consecutive playoff appearances end in one of the more lopsided games against the bordering Warriors.

Penn-Trafford had eight players score touchdowns five different ways.

“This might be the ultimate, total team win I have seen since I’ve been here,” Warriors coach John Ruane said. “We have a lot of depth and a lot of talented guys. They seized their opportunities. (The depth) a good problem to have.

“Everybody was pumped for all eight guys who scored.”

The first half saw the Warriors convert a hook-and-lateral and a fake punt and also score two defensive touchdowns. They added a third defensive score in the third.

“We had a great week of practice,” said quarterback Ethan Carr, who completed 11 of 16 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown. “We only had one day of practice before last week’s game. It was an awesome game plan and we executed it.”

Last week, the Warriors showed rust after a short week, as winless Connellsville tied them 28-28 by halftime. Penn-Trafford brought the Falcons back to earth with 36 unanswered points and a 64-28 win.

Leading by 14 early, the Warriors went to trickery and made sure Franklin Regional didn’t come back.

They lined up to punt on fourth-and-8 but sent a direct snap to Nate Frye, who found a seam and raced 53 yards for a score to make it 21-0.

“We work on that stuff all year,” Ruane said. “We thought we had some momentum up 14-0.”

Said Panthers coach Greg Botta: “John is the master of those plays. We worked on the fake punt, too.”

Franklin Regional was down two starters: tight end/linebacker Luke Reppermund (shoulder) and running back/defensive back Brandon Zanotto (knee).

The Panthers managed just 16 yards rushing.

“We were overmatched,” Botta said. “They’re a great football team. They have size, speed, depth, everything. I was proud how our kids fought. We had kids playing out of position. You can’t match that depth.

“It’s tough not making the playoffs. Any other year, we’d be in.”

Two defensive scores followed to put the Warriors ahead 35-0.

Jack Jollie corralled a fumble and took it back 36 yards and before the extra point landed in the band area, Chase Vecchio jumped in front of a Trevor Brncic pass and took it back 14 yards.

The Warriors, who came in averaging 52.7 points since a loss to Peters Township four weeks ago, opened the scoring with a Cade Yacamelli 3-yard run that followed a hook-and-lateral play — Carr to Mason Frye to Yacamelli — gained 43 yards.

“Everything was clicking,” Carr said.

Carr threw a touchdown pass to 6-foot-4, 235-pound sophomore Conlan Greene, who cut across the back of the end zone for a short score.

Nate Frye also had an interception for the Warriors, who cashed in the turnover: Cole Darragh caught a 25-yard scoring toss from Carr, who passed to six receivers.

“It was a great overall game and team win,” Darragh said. “We listen to what Coach Ruane says. He calls the plays and we try to execute. We played as team, a family, as a unit.”

The Panthers scored late in the first half on a 30-yard bomb from Brncic to Jerraine Turner to make it 35-7 at the half. Brncic threw for 118 yards but had three interceptions.

Backup quarterback Carter Green showed some nifty moves and speed when he broke through the line for a 52-yard score and Liam Hileman picked off Brncic for a 30-yard score to push the advantage to 56-7 late in the third.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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