Peters Township drops South Fayette in battle for final Allegheny Six playoff spot

Friday, October 29, 2021 | 11:41 PM

Rainbows are thought to be a sign of promise and of good things to come.

So when a massive, sprawling rainbow appeared over South Fayette’s stadium during pregame warmups Friday night, and the Lions took an early lead over Peters Township, it appeared that there could be some divine intervention for a desperate team.

But as quickly as the rainbow disappeared into the night sky, so did South Fayette’s slim hopes of making the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs.

Peters Township (6-4, 2-3), led by quarterback Sam Miller, scored 35 unanswered points to drop the Lions, 35-7, in a matchup for the final playoff spot in the Allegheny Six Conference.

Entering the night, the Indians needed a win to wrap up a postseason spot, while South Fayette (4-6, 0-5) needed to win by 10 or more points and have West Allegheny lose to Moon by four or more points.

“It feels great. It’s relieving,” said Miller, a senior who passed for 289 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 74 more yards and another score. “Now we can just go out, play our best football and keep it going.”

Following a speedy and scoreless first quarter, South Fayette mounted a 14-play, 81-yard drive in which it converted five third downs before Landon Lutz hit Ryan Kovatch for a 29-yard touchdown pass.

But Peters Township buckled down, denying the run and, while Lutz passed for 212 yards, it took him 43 attempts to do so.

“We just thought we had enough firepower up front to bring three or maybe four (rushers) at a time and get to them,” said Indians’ coach TJ Plack, who coached at South Fayette from 2002-2006. “And we have some guys on the back end.”

After its lone score, South Fayette ended drives by punting five times, turning the ball over on downs twice and fumbling once.

“They did a great job,” South Fayette coach Joe Rossi admitted.

Miller led Peters Township on consecutive scoring drives to close out the first half. He ran for a 1-yard score and found Jake Macosko for a 35-yard strike.

After halftime, Miller connected with Bryce Thompson for a 21-yard touchdown, Macosko on a 4-yard pass, and then Thompson on an 8-yarder to extend the lead to 35-7.

Thompson caught eight passes for 154 yards and Macoscko hauled in six balls for 106 yards. Each scored twice.

“They’re quick, and they’ve worked hard all offseason and all year,” said Miller, a Columbia baseball recruit. “We’ve talked, like, ‘We need to get this done. This is our year. We want to win.’”

The loss ends an impressive run for South Fayette, which finished the season on a five-game losing streak. The Lions will not appear in the WPIAL postseason for the first time since 2008. In that stretch, the program averaged over 10 wins per season, won four district titles and two state crowns.

“I’m proud of this group,” Rossi said. “We had to replace 11 guys (from last season). We had 11 senior starters. It was tough on these guys. … They started the year 4-1, but there were a lot of guys back in the conference. But I’m proud of them.

“There’s no secret sauce. We’ve got to get in the weight room, work hard continue to run and get faster.”

Plack’s team, meanwhile, heads into the postseason playing its best football, he believes. The Indians have impressive performances this year, beating Penn-Trafford on the road, 28-14, and losing to the presumed Class 5A top seed, Moon, 29-26.

But given the fourth-place finish in the conference, Peters Township will likely be viewed as an underdog going forward.

“Underdog’s no problem. We were underdogs at Peters Township for a couple of years before we got things rolling,” said Plack, who has led the Indians to a fifth consecutive postseason after decades of futility.

“I think we’re a pretty good team. We beat ourselves a lot this year … but we’re healthy. We finally found the stuff that works with this new group of kids we have. I’m not going to call us ‘dangerous,’ but we’re an underdog and we’re going to be happy to go to someone’s home next week, play ball and compete.”

Watch an archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

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