Penn-Trafford shuts down Woodland Hills, makes case for elite status in Class 5A

Friday, October 2, 2020 | 10:50 PM

Penn-Trafford players and coaches say they aren’t necessarily playing with a chip on their shoulder because they have not been ranked all season.

They know how deep Class 5A is, but at the same time, think they at least belong in the conversation.

The Warriors played like a top-tier team — and continued their dominance at Warrior Stadium — with a lopsided 38-6 victory over No. 4 Woodland Hills on Friday night in the Big East Conference.

With 337 rushing yards and a defense that forced five turnovers, the Warriors (3-1, 2-0) dominated the Wolverines (3-1, 1-1) before a slimmed-down homecoming crowd.

That makes it 21 straight at home for Penn-Trafford, which is 41-1 on the turf in Harrison City since 2013.

Junior Cade Yacamelli ran for 132 yards and a touchdown, caught a scoring pass, recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass. Senior Ethan Carr ran for 116 yards and two touchdowns and threw two scoring passes for the Warriors.

“We feel like we should be up there,” Yacamelli said of the rankings. “And we take the home games to heart. It’s home-field advantage. Any time an opponent steps on this field, we feel like we’re taking the dub.”

Carr said his team didn’t deserve to be ranked after losing to Peters Township, but after this win, maybe they should be.

“This was a big game for us and the conference,” Carr said. “Woodland Hills is a good football team. We just played physical and did our thing.”

Woodland Hills, off to a much better start than last year when the Wolverines opened 0-6 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 1995, gave away four first-half turnovers — five for the game on eight possessions — and the Warriors pounced to build a 24-0 lead.

The Wolverines were missing two injured starters: top rusher Taelen Brooks and offensive tackle Julius Brown.

The Warriors recovered two fumbles and intercepted two passes in the first half, which helped them overcome penalties.

The running game took over and Woodland Hills had little to say about it.

“They were playing pass-heavy,” Carr said. “We were just thinking maybe we could overload one side and maybe get the edge. Once their linebackers started blitzing, it made it easier for draws up the middle.”

Time of possession also helped.

The Wolverines barely had the ball over the first two quarters with the Warriors possessing the ball for 18 minutes and 43 seconds.

Penn-Trafford took up 9:39 of the first quarter but could not produce any points.

But the Warriors broke through early in the second after Yacamelli recovered a fumble at the Wolverines’ 32. Eight straight runs pushed the Warriors down field and Carr, after a 23-yard run, punched it in from the 2 to give the Warriors a 7-0 lead.

Chase Vecchio helped thwart a Wolverines’ drive with a sack of Deontae Williams for a loss of 11 yards.

The Warriors went to work again — with seven rushes — to take a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter. Gains of 46 yards by Yacamelli and 16 by junior Ian Demeri set up Yacamelli’s score from the half-inch line.

“Our line, credit to them, they did an awesome job,” Yacamelli said. “But our receivers blocked like crazy on the perimeter. Hats off to the coaches too.”

Another fumble, forced by Thomas Wilkie and recovered by Conlan Greene, set the Warriors up for another score, but penalties not only negated a Carr touchdown run but also forced the Warriors to punt on a 4th and 30.

Woodland Hills, though, turned it over again. Williams was intercepted by Carter Green with 1:14 left in the half.

Two plays and a holding penalty later, Carr threw a screen pass to Brad Ford, who bounced off a few defenders and slid through traffic for a 27-yard score to make it 21-0.

“We have fun and take a lot of pride playing (at home),” Carr said.

Yacamelli intercepted another Williams throw late in the second quarter, but the Warriors settled for a 25-yard field goal on the last play of the half to cap a 24-point second quarter.

Mason Frye had an interception for the Warriors in the third quarter to dash the Wolverines’ most productive drive of the night.

Carr threw for 5-yard touchdown to Yacamelli with 1:35 left in the third to up the score to 31-0.

“I thought our guys played well up front,” Warriors coach John Ruane said. “We have some playmakers. Cade has turned into a tremendous back. … Carr is dynamic in what he can do. He is a dual-threat quarterback, but he was better running tonight. Every time Brad Ford touches the ball, something good happens.”

Carr added a 5-yard run for his second rushing score with 5:06 to play.

Brandon Jones ran 22 yards to the end zone for Woodland Hills to break up the shutout with 51 seconds left.

Williams ran for 68 yards and Eris Seibles 63 for the Wolverines.

“P-T is a fantastic football team,” Woodland Hills coach Tim Bostard said. “They can throw a lot of guys at you. They punched us in the mouth early. It’s going to be very interesting to see how 5A shapes up.”

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

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