Peters Township avenges loss to Gateway, returns to WPIAL Class 5A title game

Saturday, November 7, 2020 | 12:11 AM

That bad taste Peters Township had had since a one-point loss to Gateway in a WPIAL championship football game a year ago finally is gone.

For real, it isn’t there anymore.

There’s nothing sweeter for the Indians, now that they’re headed to their second Class 5A championship game following a come-from-behind, 20-19 victory over Gateway on Friday night at Antimarino Stadium, ending the Gators’ 22-game home winning streak.

That’s right, a one-point victory this time for Peters Township, which won it on Logan Pfeuffer’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Corban Hondru with 4.7 seconds left to come all the way back from a 19-0 deficit at halftime.

“It’s exhilarating,” Hondru exclaimed afterward. “There’s no better feeling than (winning like) this.”

No. 3 Peters Township (8-0) will face top-seeded Pine-Richland (8-0) for another chance at a WPIAL championship at 7 p.m. Nov. 14 at North Allegheny. The Indians dropped a 21-20 decision to Gateway in the 2019 Class 5A title game.

“It feels awesome. It was 21-20 last year and 20-19 this year, only this year we’re on the winning end of it,” Peters Township coach T.J. Plack said. “It feels great.”

Peters Township, which scored 20 unanswered second-half points, remained unbeaten in spite of a brutal schedule that arguably was the toughest in the WPIAL.

“Oh yeah, I can tell you it’s the toughest,” Plack said. “The fourth-toughest in the state. And we’ve had some close battles against some really good teams. We haven’t blown anyone out.”

Yet, Peters Township was coming off a 39-6 victory over Woodland Hills in the quarterfinals a week ago.

No. 2 Gateway (5-1) hadn’t lost at home since falling to Franklin Regional on Oct. 28, 2016.

The Gators appeared headed for another victory after going up 19-0 on Jayson Jenkins field goals of 40 and 29 yards, Diego Bledsoe’s 35-yard interception return for a touchdown and Jayden Hurt’s 8-yard touchdown reception from Carsen Engleka, the latter coming just 15.7 seconds before the break.

But Peters Township got its act together after intermission and scored on its first possession of the third quarter, Pfeuffer flipping a 2-yard touchdown pass to Nico Pate, capping an 80-yard drive.

“Without a doubt, that was an important score for us,” Plack said. “For us to score like that to start the second half, we kept them believing, kept their heads up. That first score in the second half was major.”

Peters Township benefited by a pair of missed field goals by Jenkins in the second half, the first a 42-yarder with 7 minutes, 12 seconds left in the third quarter. That gave the Indians possession and a run at the end zone, where Pfeuffer found Donovan McMillon, who made a spectacular grab for a 38-yard pass play, cutting the Gateway lead to 19-13.

In the fourth quarter, Jenkins misfired on a 38-yard field-goal attempt with 6:29 left but got another chance at a 34-yarder, which also sailed wide, after a penalty on the first try.

In the final minute, with Gateway clinging to a six-point lead, the Gators’ Chamor Price was called for pass interference after picking off a Pfeuffer pass on fourth down and returning it 75 yards for an apparent touchdown that likely would have sealed a victory for Gateway.

“A momentum-changer,” Plack said. “That was a very big swing right there. But then again, he probably wouldn’t have caught it and we might have if he didn’t interfere.”

The call gave Peters Township a first down, and the Indians ground out the victory, scoring their game-winning touchdown on fourth down with the clock about to expire.

“I’m speechless,” McMillon said. “Speechless.”

But at that, he found something to say.

“We kept our heads up the whole game. We knew it was going to be a tough game,” he said. “Two tough teams, and we came out on top.”

Plack said there was no other option on the game-winning toss.

“He does it all for us,” Plack said of the 6-foot-1, 230-pound Hondru. “There is no way he was not our first look on that play. I just kept saying, ‘We’re throwing it to (No.) 10’ because I know he will catch it.”

Pfeuffer, with his three touchdown passes, finished 17 of 37 for 289 yards and survived three interceptions. Engleka was 15 for 35 for 142 yards for Gateway.

Peters Township’s Breylan Carrington caught eight passes for 147 yards.

Gateway star Derrick Davis led the Gators with 108 yards rushing on 18 carries and had an apparent 56-yard touchdown run in the first half nullified by a holding penalty.

Watch an archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

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