Players switch positions, pace offense as Bethel Park tops South Fayette, clinches playoff spot

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Friday, October 21, 2022 | 11:45 PM


Bethel Park was without its top running back, Austin Caye, on Friday night at South Fayette Stadium, but the conference-leading Black Hawks still clinched a playoff spot in the Class 5A Allegheny Six with a 28-9 win.

The Black Hawks (8-1, 4-0) used two 100-plus-yard rushing efforts to seal a spot in the postseason and their sixth straight victory. South Fayette (5-4, 2-2) saw its hopes for a playoff spot get a bit more complicated with just one game remaining in the regular season.

In the absence of Caye, sophomore Ryan Petras, a wide receiver, ran 20 times for 108 yards and two touchdowns and caught five passes for 51 yards. Teammate Gavin Moul, a senior who typically plays fullback, paced the offense with 25 carries for 146 yards and a touchdown.

Their effort was no surprise to coach Brian DeLallo.

“It’s tough because they’re both playing out of position a little bit, but it’s nice that when a guy like Austin goes down we have enough depth and talent in our system to put in there,” DeLallo said. “We have guys that understand our brand. We want to be run-first, be physical and have ball carriers that are either going to make the first guy miss or run them over.”

Tanner Pfeuffer scored on a 1-yard run to open the scoring on Bethel Park’s first offensive drive, which consisted of 15 plays, 14 on the ground.

Nate Deanes answered immediately for South Fayette, scoring on a 63-yard run on the next offensive play for South Fayette. The point after attempt was blocked, leaving it at 7-6 Bethel Park after a quarter.

In the second, Tyler Nicholson connected on a 26-yard field goal to give the Lions a lead that lasted almost six minutes before Petras scored the first of his two touchdowns, from 6 yards, with 43 seconds to play in the half to give the Hawks the halftime, 14-9 lead.

Bethel Park shut out South Fayette in the second half. Moul’s 2-yard touchdown run that capped a long scoring drive in the third and Petras’ 16-yard run on the first play of the fourth were the final two scores.

“They grind you out. They just have some great H-backs,” South Fayette coach Joe Rossi said. “They have Caye, who, obviously, didn’t play tonight, but then Petras, who can move, and Moul just grinds you down and you get the result you got.”

The second half has been the story for the Blackhawks this season, especially in the six-game win streak.

“We’ve been a second-half team all year,” DeLallo said. “Our kids are really coachable, and they take to adjustments. Tonight, it wasn’t so much adjustments as, ‘let’s execute like we’re supposed to.’ Defensively in the second half, three-and-out on every possession was huge, and the offense did what they do and played keep away.”

Deanes finished seven carries for 74 yards, and South Fayette didn’t get much going other than the 63-yard touchdown all night.

The Lions will get Upper St. Clair next week with their season on the line. They need to win, at minimum, to get into the postseason.

Bethel Park also got 56 yards from Blake Striegel and 6-for-10 passing from Pfeuffer for 91 yards.

“Our line may not look like much. They’re not the biggest group in the world, but they’ve been playing together for at least four years,” DeLallo said. “They get off the ball well, and they’re just quick.”

Bethel Park gets a crack at Peters Township next week. A win would clinch the conference title outright for the Black Hawks. A win for the Indians leaves the door open for a three-way tie atop of the conference.

“We know what we’re going to get with them: a really well-coached team, hard-nosed kids and difficult schemes on both sides of the ball,” DeLallo said. “We’ll have a big week of prep ahead of those guys.”

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