Special teams, defense lead Peters Township past South Fayette

Friday, September 25, 2020 | 11:33 PM

When the wins are tallied at the end of the night, style points do not come into play. Peters Township would not want them anyway as it won its Class 5A Allegheny Conference opener 17-3 over South Fayette in a game that was postponed from the opening week.

“I think our defense and special teams did what they were supposed to do and then some,” said Peters Township coach T.J. Plack. “We’re down a tailback and going between centers. We couldn’t go into the shotgun as we were snapping the ball over the quarterback’s head. We were terrible on offense. It’s the worst game I’ve been around. But we were able to makes plays on defense and special teams, so this would definitely be a gutty and gritty win.”

The Indians had just 9 yards passing and were held to 114 yards of offense, but their other units were able to pick up the offense.

For the second straight week, the Indians scored only one offensive touchdown, and for the second straight week the defense provided the spark.

Breylen Carrington, who picked off four Penn-Trafford passes and returned two for scores last week, picked up where he left off after the season opener. Carrington’s fifth interception of the season led to the game’s first score.

“He’s been great for us so far,” Plack said of Carrington. “He also made some nice tackles, and it was good to see him start out great again.”

The senior cornerback intercepted South Fayette’s Naman Alemada late in the first quarter, and Andrew Massucci booted a 28-yard field goal with 1 minute, 43 seconds left in the first quarter to put Peters Township up 3-0.

Special teams would key the next two Indians scores. Specifically, Florida recruit Donovan McMillon would make two huge plays.

With Ryan McGuire punting for South Fayette, McMillon broke in from the left side and blocked the punt, giving the Indians the ball at the Lions 4-yard line. Two plays later, Corban Hondru plowed into the end zone from the 2-yard line, and Peters Township led 10-0 4 seconds in to the second quarter.

“Donovan’s a great football player, but before he was a standout defensive back, he was an all (conference) special teams player for us,” Plack said. “He’s on all of our special teams because he’s that good on them.”

McMillon saved his best for the start of the second half. The senior received the opening kickoff at his own 5-yard line and took off up the left sideline. South Fayette kicker Justin Caputo was unable to force McMillon out of bounds near the 10-yard line, and just 16 seconds into the third quarter, Peters Township opened up a 17-0 lead.

Plack said the coaches thought the second half kickoff could turn into a big play.

“We had it set up real nice, and we just needed Donavan to make one cut and that’s what he does well, and he was able to do that.”

The Lions offense, which was held to 33 yards in the first half, got going a bit on their first possession of the second half. Alemada found wide-receiver Charley Rossi for three straight completions good for 50 yards. But the drive would stall, and South Fayette settled for 21-yard Caputo field goal to make the score 17-3.

Those would be the final points of the evening. Alemada, who threw for just 46 yards in the first half, finished the game 23 of 41 for 266 yards. Rossi had eight catches for 147 yards to lead South Fayette.

More special teams play helped the Indians protect the lead in the fourth quarter. Twice in punt formation, Hondru, who is headed to Miami (Ohio) to play linebacker, took off on fake punts. He gained 6 and 19 yards, respectively, and even though the conversions did not lead to any points, they helped the Indians take time of the clock and kept the Lions offense off the field.

Plack said Hondru has the option to fake the punt if he sees an opening.

“On those punts, they were bringing pressure off the back, so we went more to a rugby punt,” he said. “They just didn’t have anyone over there, so he definitely has the green light.”

This was the conference opener for both teams. South Fayette, which moved up to Class 5A this year dropped to (1-2, 0-1) after the loss, which snapped South Fayette’s conference winning streak at 64 games. The last time the Lions lost a game in conference was in 2011 when they played in Class AA.

“It’s really uncharacteristic of us,” said a disappointed South Fayette coach Joe Rossi when asked about the Lions offense in the last two weeks. “Special teams were, obviously, big tonight, but this is expected when you play tougher competition.”

It will be a short week for Peters Township (2-0, 1-0) as it continues Allegheny 6 play by hosting Upper St. Clair on Thursday night.

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