Westinghouse shuts down Farrell, sets up PIAA semifinal showdown with WPIAL champion

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Saturday, November 26, 2022 | 6:49 PM


Westinghouse fans have a variety of chants and cheers, but “go defense go” seemed to have a little extra enthusiasm Saturday afternoon at Cupples Stadium.

“Our alumni gets us hyped,” said senior lineman Donte Taylor, whose defense sure had plenty of energy.

District 10 champion Farrell managed only 56 yards of offense against the Bulldogs, who made themselves seem almost unblockable at times in their 34-6 victory in the PIAA Class 2A quarterfinals. The win makes Westinghouse (13-0) the first City League team to reach the state semifinals in 20 years

The Bulldogs face WPIAL champion Steel Valley (12-0) at 7 p.m. Friday at West Mifflin.

“It’s exciting,” Westinghouse coach Donta Green said. “For me, it’s just about being excited for my guys. This is something they’ve talked about since January. With all the adversity and all of the things we’ve had to face from then until now, they faced it with their chests high.”

Farrell (10-2) was trying to reach the state semifinals for the seventh time in eight years.

The last time the City League and WPIAL champions met in the state playoffs was 2002. Eventual state champion Hopewell, in Paul Posluszny’s senior year, defeated Perry, 20-3, in a PIAA Class 3A semifinal that season.

After seeing Saturday’s strong performance, Farrell coach Anthony Pegues predicted that Westinghouse would hoist a state championship trophy in a couple of weeks. No City League team has reached the state finals since Perry won in 1989.

“Give them credit, they’re a very good team,” Pegues said of Westinghouse. “I’m going to go out on a limb and say it. I think that’s going to be the 2A state (champion). I do believe they can get past Steel Valley and I believe they’ll beat Southern Columbia, because (five-time defending champion) Southern Columbia is going to be there again.”

Southern Columbia plays Camp Hill Trinity in the other semifinal.

Westinghouse running back Kahlil Taylor rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns, and quarterbck Keyshawn Morsillo threw for 161 yards and two more scores.

A year ago, Westinghouse lost to Farrell in the first round of the state playoffs. This time, thanks to a defense that made 17 tackles for a loss, Westinghouse is moving on.

Saturday’s game wasn’t always pretty. The teams combined for 27 penalties, including 17 by Westinghouse, which was flagged for multiple pass interference calls.

But senior defensive back Troy Brown made maybe the play of the game by intercepting a pass in the end zone on the last snap of the first half. The 33-yard throw seemed to land in the arms of a Farrell receiver before Brown stole it away.

Westinghouse led 20-6 at halftime.

“There are some things we need to clean up this week, but it’s a group we take pride in,” Green said of his defense. “In the history of Westinghouse, we’ve always had great defenses.”

Farrell rushed for minus-3 yards on 38 attempts, which included seven times when Steelers quarterback Kabron Smith was tackled in the backfield. Smith went 4 for 17 passing for 64 yards and lost 33 yards on 17 carries.

Smith had a 2-yard touchdown run on Farrell’s second possession, cutting Westinghouse’s lead to 7-6. But Farrell’s nine other possessions ended with four punts, three failed fourth-down conversions and an interception. The team’s last possession was cut short by zeroes the fourth-quarter clock.

“We’ve got a lot of young guys up front, a lot of first-time starters,” Pegues said. “It was kind of masked all year because we’re so athletic. I knew coming in a team like this was going to cause us some trouble, which they did.”

Farrell played without leading receiver Kylon Wilson, a senior who’d scored a team-high 30 touchdowns. He was ineligible under PIAA rules after he was ejected from last week’s game.

“Thirty touchdowns and almost 2,500 yards of total offense,” Pegues said. “That’s something you just can’t replace.”

Westinghouse scored touchdowns on its first three possessions to lead 20-6 early in the second quarter. Khalil Taylor scored on runs of 1 and 2 yards, and Sincere Smith caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from Morsillo.

After a scoreless third quarter, the Bulldogs scored twice more in the fourth. Davon Jones caught a 44-yard touchdown from Morsillo and Roderick Jeter added a 5-yard touchdown run.

That was plenty for a Westinghouse defense that gave up 4 yards of offense after halftime.

“(The key) was us keeping our composure and not letting them get in our heads,” said Donte Taylor, the defensive lineman, who was involved in multiple tackles for a loss.

What also wasn’t in Westinghouse’s heads were day dreams about facing Steel Valley. An eventual City League vs. WPIAL matchup seemed possible for months, but Green said his Westinghouse players didn’t discuss it and he never let himself start scouting ahead.

“It hasn’t crept into our locker room,” Green said. “One of the things we’ve been preaching is ‘one day at a time, one week at a time,’ and the guys bought into that philosophy. This will be the first week that we’re actually thinking about and talking about Steel Valley.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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