Quarterback’s breakout game powers South Fayette past Montour

Friday, August 27, 2021 | 11:59 PM

For Landon Lutz, this was a long time coming.

Two years after nearly claiming South Fayette’s starting quarterback job, Lutz made his first start as a varsity player Friday.

The result? A smashing success.

Lutz methodically executed South Fayette’s offense, passing 13 of 16 for 138 yards and a touchdown, as the Lions (1-0) defeated Montour, 35-7, at Thomas J. Birko Memorial Stadium.

“It felt amazing,” said the senior, who backed up Naman Alemada the previous two years. “When I came off that bus, it was just a whole different environment. Coming from being a backup, finally starting this year, waiting my time… It just felt great.”

Lutz got plenty of help while on the sideline.

South Fayette’s defense allowed only 59 rushing yards, setting up Lutz and the offense with plenty of short fields to work with.

That included the Lions’ opening offensive drive, in which they marched 48 yards with Nate Deanes capping off the series with a 3-yard touchdown run.

After another Montour three-and-out, Deanes threw a haymaker at Montour (0-1), returning a punt 52 yards for a score to extend the South Fayette lead to 14-0 just over five minutes into the game.

“I started running right, saw a gap, made a cut, and all I saw was green,” said Deanes, a sophomore who ran for 98 yards.

“They went right down the field on the first series, then (the punt return) just takes the wind out of your sails,” added Montour coach Lou Cerro.

If Montour was shell shocked, it quickly wore off, as first-time starting quarterback Jake Wolfe hooked up with Diaun Pinkett for a 43-yard touchdown to cut the lead in half.

But Lutz immediately squashed any expectations of a Montour rally, hitting Connor Harcarik for a 13-yard touchdown to make it a 21-7 game.

“(Lutz) was very accurate. There weren’t many misses,” Lions coach Joe Rossi said. “He’s special. He was able to escape, use his legs a little tonight and manage the offense. He did a wonderful job.”

Christian Brandi then extended South Fayette’s lead to 28-7 before the end of the first quarter with a 1-yard touchdown run.

Then the Lions offense had to wait. A while. Montour orchestrated a drive lasting 10 minutes, 55 seconds, but stalled at the South Fayette 10-yard line shortly before halftime.

“We had our chances, but we just couldn’t get past that hump,” Cerro said. “If we score right before the half, it might be a different game. Who knows?”

Montour did move the ball through the air, with Wolfe, a sophomore, passing for 184 yards — 154 to Pinkett.

But it wasn’t enough. Lutz capped the scoring with an 8-yard touchdown run early in the final quarter.

“Lamar Jackson,” Deanes jokingly exclaimed about his backfield mate’s mobility.

South Fayette, which played the game with 17 new starters from last season, continues it’s nonconference schedule with a home game against West Mifflin next week. Montour makes a short drive to Moon.

Despite the runaway win, both coaches seemed relieved to get back on the football field in a semi-normal way following a 2020 season that was anything but ordinary. Both teams spent extra time under the lights after the game, taking photos, talking with classmates and hugging their families.

“It’s the excitement of Friday nights,” Rossi said. “Running out, the fans, that’s all that really matters. Who you’re in Western PA, that’s all you want.”

Watch an archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

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