Serra Catholic forces 6 more turnovers, upends Farrell to earn trip to PIAA championship game

Friday, December 3, 2021 | 11:31 PM

Serra Catholic has developed a reputation as the most ball-hawking defense in the WPIAL, and nothing the Eagles did Friday night did anything to change that.

In a PIAA Class 2A semifinal matchup with the Farrell Steelers of District 10, the Eagles used six takeaways to win 27-18, booking a trip to Hershey.

“We’ve got a lot of playmakers out there,” Serra Catholic coach Jose Regus said. “Guys are out there to make plays and that’s what they’re doing. We practice it and they perform it on game day.”

Serra Catholic, which forced nine turnovers in a WPIAL championship game victory over Beaver Falls, recovered three fumbles and intercepted three passes Friday. The biggest occurred in the first half with senior Jaden Williams returning a pick 43 yards for a touchdown.

“You can’t turn the ball over against a team like this,” Farrell coach Anthony Pegues said. “They just thrive on that. You can’t win that way.”

In addition to the Serra Catholic interception, seniors Terrell Booth and Pharaoh Fisher each scored rushing touchdowns in the first half. The Eagles led 20-12 at halftime.

Despite the miscues, the Steelers were able to keep the game close. Senior running back Anthony Stallworth scored the game’s first touchdown, putting Farrell up 6-0 in the first quarter. It was the 30th touchdown run of the season for Stallworth, who managed 177 rushing yards.

“We really thought we were going to get there and win it all,” Pegues said. “But we didn’t. I’m proud of my guys. It is what it is.”

Senior quarterback Trian Holden also tossed two touchdown passes for Farrell, finding Lamont Samuels and Taidon Strickland for scores. The 65-yard throw to Strickland cut the Eagles’ lead to just 20-18 with nine minutes to play and seemed to build momentum for Farrell.

On the next play from scrimmage, however, Serra Catholic struck back. Senior quarterback Max Rocco threw a 68-yard touchdown pass to receiver Jayvon Holt, putting the game out of reach.

“We find a way,” Regus said. “They find a way to get things done.”

Those types of plays were key for the Eagles, who were held to just 139 offensive yards. Farrell had 364 total yards but was hampered by 15 penalties and timely Serra Catholic takeaways.

“Give Serra credit,” Pegues said. “They came out here with a great game plan. I wish them luck to get that state title. They’re very capable.”

The Eagles will play for a PIAA championship for just the second time when they meet powerhouse Southern Columbia (14-1) at 1 p.m. next Friday at HersheyPark Stadium. Their only previous state title game appearance was in 2007, a loss to Steelton-Highspire.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Regus said. “I’m going to enjoy this victory. Tomorrow we’ll get in the lab and do what we have to do for next week.”


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