South Fayette seniors come up big in win over West Allegheny

Friday, October 16, 2020 | 11:24 PM

South Fayette’s senior stars were turned loose — and not just in their no-huddle offense.

Charley Rossi scored three touchdowns — two receiving and one on a 70-yard interception return — and linebacker Tristan Bedillion had two sacks and an interception return touchdown of his own as the Class 5A No. 5 Lions defeated visiting West Allegheny, 38-14, in an Allegheny Six Conference game Friday.

“This time of year, you need your big-time players to step up and make big-time plays, and they did tonight,” Lions coach Joe Rossi said.

The younger Rossi led the offense with 137 yards on nine receptions, including touchdowns of 7 and 36 yards. On the second, the 5-foot-8 receiver appeared to leap over his defender to haul in the pass, and his father/coach jokingly declined to say if his son’s vertical came from him.

“I think the (defender) was falling down a little and he jumped over him, but that was a big play when we needed it to go get the ball there,” Joe Rossi said.

That touchdown gave the Lions (4-2, 3-1) a 21-0 lead in the second quarter, and they would take a 24-7 edge to halftime.

West Allegheny (3-3, 1-3) caught South Fayette off guard to open the second half, however, as the Indians recovered their own high, chipped kickoff at the Lions 28. The Lions defense came up big in response, as Bedillion’s second sack of the game came on third-and-7 from the 9-yard line, and the Indians ended up turning the ball over on downs.

South Fayette again tightened defensively on the next drive, forcing a punt after West Allegheny reached the 29, as the Indians scored just once on three trips inside the Lions’ 30.

“It does weigh on you, and our Achilles’ heel this year has been that. We’re able to get in the red zone. We just haven’t been able to come away with points,” Indians coach Dave Schoppe said. “We’ve got to continue to work and try to get better in that area of the game.”

West Allegheny’s defense made its own big stop when Adam Crawford intercepted Naman Alemada’s pass off the hands of his receiver in the end zone.

That turnover kept the score 24-7 well into the fourth quarter, but Bedillion put the game away for South Fayette when he dropped into the flat and cut underneath a pass by Gavin Miller. Bedillion’s 64-yard interception return with 8:24 left extended the lead to 31-7, and Rossi added to that with his pick and score on the next drive.

“(Bedillion) has had a great year,” Joe Rossi said of the senior, who sits fourth or fifth on the receiving depth chart but has been outstanding as a defensive leader. “He’s a first-year starter. Seven of our eight up front are first-year starters … and each game they’re getting better and more comfortable. He’s stout on ‘D,’ and he made a great interception there. We needed that.”

Alemada finished the game 19 for 26 passing for 212 yards and two touchdowns, and Rossi praised his offensive line, saying the quarterback “was more comfortable than he’s been all year.”

For West Allegheny, junior quarterback Miller hung in under steady pressure to complete 16 of 35 passes for 204 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Fellow junior Jashon Spencer was Miller’s top target with seven catches for 120 yards, including an 11-yard score in the second quarter and a 56-yard deep ball hauled in for the game’s final score.

With the win, South Fayette sets up a huge matchup to close conference play next Friday against Upper St. Clair.

The winner would be assured of clinching second place in the conference, and taking the No. 2 spot could be the difference in reaching the playoffs, depending on how the covid-affected postseason takes shape.

Listen to an archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

Matt Grubba is a contributing writer.

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