South Fayette stops rare losing streak with win over Moon

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Friday, October 2, 2020 | 11:14 PM


As one of the powerhouse programs of the WPIAL over the past decade, South Fayette found itself in a rare position — on a losing streak.

The Lions quickly put an end to that skid, and in the process, snapped another team’s winning run.

Naman Alemada threw for 237 yards and three touchdowns, as South Fayette jumped out to an early two-touchdown lead and held on to knock off previously unbeaten Moon, 28-13, in an Allegheny Six game Friday.

Joey Audia had five catches for 95 yards and a score, and Charley Rossi caught five passes for 79 yards and the game-clinching touchdown as the offense for South Fayette (2-2, 1-1) started to click again after scoring 10 points in its two losses.

“I think we just locked in. Looking back the last two weeks, we left points on the board and made too many mental mistakes,” Alemada said. “Peters and (Chartiers Valley), they’re great teams, but we feel like we had chances to win those games. We came into this game focused in the locker room, during warm-ups, zeroing in on the game and making no mental mistakes.”

The pregame focus certainly paid off, as the Lions went ahead 14-0 in less than five minutes. Alemeda found Audia on a deep post pattern that went 60 yards and had a 29-yard connection to Ryan McGuire in the corner of the end zone.

South Fayette extended the lead to 21-0 before halftime with a 1-yard run by Shay Aitken, and Moon (3-1, 1-1) went to the half needing to regroup.

“We talked about it in the locker room, that they were going to come out with some emotion, being senior night and they had lost two in a row. They probably couldn’t even tell you the last time they lost two games in a season,” Moon coach Ryan Linn. “But you’re not going to beat these guys playing a quarter and a half.”

The Tigers came out pounding the ball after the break, led by fullback Dylan Sleva’s 72 yards on 14 carries.

As the run game began to click, the passing game started to connect behind quarterback Tyler McGowen, who finished 14 for 24 for 164 yards. McGowen connected with tight end Dante Docchio on a fourth and 3 at the 5 to get the Tigers on the board, and a 17-yard TD toss to Jeremiah Dean made it 21-13 at the end of the third quarter.

“We’ve been strong in that sense. We have a strong run game; we think we can run on most people,” Linn said. “We tried to set that up in the second half, and it opened up some things.”

Moon’s defense also stiffened after halftime, forcing three South Fayette punts to open the second half. The Tigers also forced two turnovers in the game on strip sacks, two of six total sacks by the defense.

But South Fayette’s defense was equally impressive, especially up front. The Lions sacked McGowen eight times, including a critical one that ended a potential tying drive with 4:20 remaining.

“I know how good they can be because I have to practice against them,” Alemeda said of his defense. “It all goes back to Coach (Joe) Rossi and his staff. They don’t get the credit they deserve for putting everyone in the right spots at the right times to make plays.”

That gave the Lions the ball back with a chance to kill the clock, but South Fayette had other things in mind.

On a second-and-11 play at their own 43, Alemeda tossed a swing pass to Charley Rossi, who picked up a pair of blocks and darted down the left sideline for the insurance touchdown with 1:43 to play.

“Coach Rossi preaches every week: all heart,” Alemada said. “That just shows it with the play calling, defense, having faith in each other and going for it. That showed up on the last play.”

The Lions sealed the win on special teams, recovering a fumble on the ensuing kickoff for their third takeaway of the game — two fumble recoveries and an interception by freshman Nate Deanes.

Watch an archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

Matt Grubba is a contributing writer.

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