Westinghouse returns to PIAA title game after taking down Beaver Falls

Friday, December 1, 2023 | 11:32 PM

Westinghouse is headed back to the PIAA championship game for the second year in a row.

Behind a relentless defense, the Bulldogs defeated WPIAL Class 2A champion Beaver Falls, 28-8, in the state semifinals Friday night at West Allegheny.

The Bulldogs forced Beaver Falls (9-6) to turn the ball over on downs five times, including three trips into the red zone.

Michael Richardson led the way with three sacks, two tackles for losses and a forced fumble.

“I got my motor,” Richardson said. “Nobody can keep up with me, but this was a collective group effort. We are just that.”

Westinghouse (13-0) earned a rematch with District 4 power Southern Columbia (14-1), which beat the Bulldogs, 37-22, in last year’s PIAA final. The Tigers reached the state finals 22 times in 30 years and has won six straight titles and 13 overall. The teams will meet at 1 p.m. next Friday at Cumberland Valley.

The game was tied 8-8 after the first quarter, but Westinghouse’s offense then scored 20 unanswered.

The Bulldogs led 15-8 at halftime and continued to shut Beaver Falls down throughout the second half.

After a scoreless third quarter, Westinghouse sealed the victory when Khalil Green completed a back shoulder fade to K-Shawn Hawkins for a 12-yard score. Tigers defender Di’Nari Harris tipped the ball, but Hawkins hauled in the deflection to make it 22-8.

“He called the play,” Hawkins said. “The ball is coming to me. When I broke my route, I see the ball up in the air. I had to keep my eye on it, and I got my feet in for a touchdown.”

Hawkins caught five passes for 101 yards and a touchdown. Green completed 9 of 14 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 67 yards on 10 carries with a 29-yard touchdown.

“We knew what we had to do and he has speed,” Green said of Hawkins. “We knew we had to get it to him so we just started off going to him.”

Westinghouse’s Ty Abram added 77 rushing yards and a touchdown. He had 40 yards on the drive that put them up 22-8.

The Bulldogs’ defense capped the scoring when Richardson had a strip sack on Beaver Falls QB Kadin Brickner, and Josiah Collins picked it up and took it 20 yards for a score and a 28-8 lead.

“It was hard going into the game because their line was big and we were watching film on them,” Collins said. “We just had to come out and execute.”

The Bulldogs did just that, especially at the defensive end.

“It was real big, but this is what we work for,” Collins said of the defensive effort. “We knew it was going to happen.”

For Beaver Falls, Brickner completed 8 of 18 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown. Datalian Beauford mustered 102 rushing yards on 21 carries.

The Tigers, who won the WPIAL title last week as the No. 10 seed, didn’t want their Cinderella story to end and continued to battle, driving into Westinghouse territory six times.

They scored on their second drive when Brickner lofted a pass over the Westinghouse defenders into the hands of Mike Blackshear on a streak for a 43-yard touchdown. Beauford ran in the two-point conversion to knot it up 8-8.

Late in the first half, Za’Saun McElvy set up the Tigers at the Westinghouse 30-yard line after a 53-yard kick return.

Beaver Falls drove down to the 6-yard line, but the Bulldogs stood their ground and Richardson sacked Brickner for a turnover on downs.

In Westinghouse’s first drive of the next half, Damian Lee strip-sacked Green and Blackshear jumped on top of it, giving them the ball at the Westinghouse 32-yard line.

The tenacious Bulldogs, however, buckled down and stuffed Beauford on a fourth-and-1 at the Westinghouse 6 for their fourth turnover on downs.

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