PIAA Football Quarterfinals Recaps 2015

Saturday, December 5, 2015 | 1:20 AM

Last year, the WPIAL sent all four of its champions to Hershey to play in the PIAA football finals. In both 2012 and 2013, three of the four District 7 teams made it to Hersheypark Stadium. This year after the Quarterfinals, only two teams are left standing as another WPIAL Triple-A champ is ousted by Erie Cathedral Prep while Clairton is stunned by a team they beat last year by 28 points. Here are recaps from all four PIAA Quarterfinals state football playoff games involving the four WPIAL champions.

A special thanks to Sean Meyers, Bob Gregg, Bob Barrickman and Paul Paterra for their help on these recaps.

Pittsburgh Central Catholic Vikings 19 – State College Little Lions 3

The calling cards during Central Catholic’s run to the WPIAL Championship, suffocating defense, strong special teams and timely offense, were again strengths for the Vikings in their 19-3 victory against State College Area in the PIAA Class Quad-A Quarterfinals at Fox Chapel High School. The Vikings set the tone early, as their defense stifled the prolific Little Lions attack. After forcing a three-and-out on State College’s initial offensive possession, Central Catholic (13-1) scored the first points of the contest courtesy of a 30-yard field goal by Jacob Rocchi. While the passing attack for Central Catholic was quiet, the combination of Ronnie Jones and Vinny Emanuele provided a strong ground game. Jones handled the majority of the carries, but it was Emanuele who converted a third down late in the first half, and later capped the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run with less than one minute left in the frame. District 6 Champion State College responded after the halftime, and produced its first points on a lengthy drive to begin the third quarter. Aided by multiple penalties against the Vikings’ defense, the Little Lions reached the red zone, but could only muster a field goal from Noah Schwab to trim their deficit to 10-3. The Little Lions (9-4) then attempted an onside kick, but the Vikings recovered, which ultimately allowed them to re-establish their two-possession advantage. The Vikings could not cap off the drive with a touchdown, but instead, Rocchi booted a 25-yard kick to put the lead back to 10 points late in the third quarter. Trying to find a spark in the fourth stanza, the Little Lions and sophomore signalcaller Drew Friberg began to take shots down the field, but the Vikings’ secondary was up to the test, forcing a pair of interceptions. Central Catholic quarterback Troy Fisher sealed the outcome when he faked a handoff and rolled to his right on a bootleg from two yards for the touchdown with less than three minutes remaining. While the Vikings’ defense shined, Central Catholic also consistently benefited from superior starting field position. The WPIAL champions typically began their drives near or behind midfield, while State College was frequently pinned inside its 20-yard-line. With the triumph, Central Catholic advances to the semifinals, where it will face the winner of Central Dauphin and Cumberland Valley.

Erie Cathedral Pre Ramblers 28 – Thomas Jefferson Jaguars 21

Cathedral Prep scored three second-half touchdowns to down Thomas Jefferson, 28-21.  Trailing 14-7 at the break, the Ramblers failed at an on-side kick to open the third quarter but got the ball three plays later when Jon Muehlbauer fumbled after picking up a first down the Prep 32 yard line.  Chris Muldrew capped a 10-play drive, tying to score midway through the third quarter.  Less than four minutes later, Cathedral Prep took the lead for the first time when Joe Mischler connected with Koran Williams on a 14-yard pass.  Thomas Jefferson responded with an 86-yard scoring drive that took nearly eight minutes off the clock.  Zane Zandier tipped a pass back to himself, securing it in the endzone to finish the possession, scoring on the 16-yard pass from Bobby Kelley, pulling the teams even with 7:25 to play in regulation.  ECP faced third-and-two at its own 37 yard line when Muldrew busted up the middle for 56 yards to the Jaguars’ seven.  Sullivan Johnson scored two plays later, putting the Ramblers into the PIAA semifinals.  Thomas Jefferson (11-3) opened the scoring when Nick Friewald returned a blocked punt eight yards for a touchdown just 1:10 into the game.  Mischler threw 17 yards to Williams as ECP tied the game with just under five minutes left in the half.  Kelley and Muehlbauer connected twice on the next possession, 30 yards to start and a beautiful diving grab at the goal line for a 34-yard touchdown that put TJ un 14-7 going to the half. Muldrew ran for 126 yards on 10 carries to lead Cathedral Prep to its 13th straight win after an opening-week loss in Florida.  Kelley threw for 168 on 13 completions.  Quinton Hill ran 27 times for 97 yards for Thomas Jefferson.

Aliquippa Quips  27- Karns City Gremlins 17

After dominating in 2008 and 2012, it looked early on that Aliquippa was going to have another easy win over Karns City in the PIAA playoffs.  The Quips traveled 63 yards with relative ease after the opening kickoff at Reeves Field on the campus of Geneva College in their PIAA AA quarterfinal matchup against the District 9 champion Gremlins.  But, Pitt recruit Kaezon Pugh fumbled the ball at the Karns City 2-yard line and was recovered by the Gremlins.  Karns City proceeded to march 98 yards capped on a 13-yard touchdown run by running back Collin Dunmyre.  Then, a 2-point pass on the conversion gave the Gremlins an 8-0 lead over the WPIAL champions.  But, Aliquippa regrouped and eventually won the hard fought contest, 27-17.  The Quips answered the Karns City score in the first quarter on a 4-yard run by Pugh followed by a pitch by Pugh to Quip quarterback Sheldon Jeter for the 2- pointer to tie the game.  A 46-yard pass to Jassir Jordan to the four set up the Quips touchdown.  Aliquippa was denied on fourth down twice inside the enemy 10-yard line later in the first half while the Gremlins threw an interception to Jordan at the Quips six in the second period.  The score remained 8-8 until Kaiden Powers kicked a 24-yard field goal with 10:04 left in the fourth quarter to give Karns City an 11-8 lead.  However, Pugh scored on a 10-yard run to finally put the Quips in front, 14-11, a lead Aliquippa didn’t relinquish.  A Kwantel Riggins interception led to a 1-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Thomas Perry.  The extra point gave Aliquippa a 21-11 advantage.  Nearly a minute later, linebacker Darnell Gardener picked off a Gremlin pass and raced 50 yards for a score to push the lead to 16 at 27-11.  Karns City quarterback Cullen Williams scored on a 1-yard run with 1:18 left but the conversion run attempt for two failed and the score read 27-17.  The Gremlins recovered an onside kick but ran out of downs and the Quips prevailed to improve to 14-0.  Karns City ended its season at 12-1.  Aliquippa will meet the winner of Saturday’s game between Hickory and Martinsburg Central next week in the state west final.

Berlin Brothersvalley Mountaineers 35 – Clairton Bears 22

The Clairton Bears have dominated Class A Football in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for the better part of a decade. But not even a program that dominates can overcome five turnovers and an opponent that plays textbook football. Berlin Brothersvalley (13-0) upset the vaunted Bears 35-22 in a PIAA Class A Quarterfinal played at Conemaugh Township High School. Clairton’s woes started early as Quarterback Aaron Mathews fumbled on the first play of the game. Zane Yanosky returned the fumble five yards to the Clairton 5. Two plays later Braden Fochtman scored on a three yard run to give the District 5 Champions a 7-0 lead. That lead grew to 14-0 on a 59-yard touchdown pass from Brentson Harding to Cole Booth. That connection was quite electrifying, hooking up four times for 143 yards. Lamont Wade did cut into the Berlin lead with a 15-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 14-6. Berlin owned the 2nd quarter with touchdown runs from Harding & Fochtman to take a 28-6 halftime lead. Fochtman, District 5’s all-time leading rusher, was his usual workmanlike self with 113 yards on 30 carries. His two touchdowns give him 32 on the season. Clairton’s first possession of the second half was the “Lamont Wade Show.” In a nine play drive Wade carried the ball 8 times for 55 yards. Wade culminated the drive with a 17-yard touchdown run. Wade ended the game with 171 yards rushing. Berlin responded to the Clairton touchdown with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Harding to Booth on the next series. Harding ended the game 5 for 9 for 172 yards passing. Mathews completed 10 of 19 passes for 119 yards, but threw 2 interceptions. Berlin, who lost to Clairton in last year’s quarterfinal 52-24, advances to play Farrell in next week’s PIAA semi-final.

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