Westmoreland H.S. football notebook: P-T still savoring win over Gateway

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Saturday, October 9, 2021 | 5:52 PM


Penn-Trafford’s Warrior Stadium was alive with goings-on Friday night. It was the hub of Harrison City as the stadium lit up a rainy community.

It was homecoming, which featured the annual parade that comes with it. Nearby roads were closed for a short time for all of the bells and whistles.

There was a pregame Victory Bell ceremony with family members of players from Trafford and Pitcairn teams that started the rivalry game.

A halftime ceremony recognized 50 years of Warriors football.

Even newly crowned WPIAL golf champion Nick Turowski was recognized.

Oh, by the way, there also was a football game. A big football game.

The Warriors defense closed Gateway’s road to victory with a 15-10 triumph that was fueled by a hard-hitting defense.

Needing an inspired effort from its defensive unit to take down the No. 3 Gators, No. 5 Penn-Trafford (5-2, 2-0) responded as it stuffed Gateway (4-3, 1-1) on downs with about two minutes to play to take over first in the Class 5A Big East.

“To win by 28 is nice, but you play defense on this team, you love winning a game like that,” Warriors coach John Ruane told his team after the game. “That effort was remarkable.”

Gateway’s big-play offense was limited in the second half as it was forced to punt on its first three possessions of the half, and didn’t reach midfield until late in the fourth.

The Gators abandoned the pass in the fourth quarter and the Warriors closed in, limiting any action to the outside.

Sophomore quarterback Brad Birch completed 11 of 15 passes for 118 yards and a touchdown, but he ran more than he threw after halftime.

“I am really proud of our defense,” Penn-Trafford senior defensive back Cade Yacamelli said. “Gateway has so many good athletes so we knew we had to step up. Our defensive line didn’t make it easy on their quarterback.”

Ball control also led to Penn-Trafford’s third straight win. The Warriors ate up a big portion of the third quarter and a chunk of the fourth to set up a 36-field goal by Nathan Schlessinger to extend its lead to 15-10 with 9:54 remaining.

Junior Jakob Haynes made the clinching stop as Gateway faced a 4th and 1 at the Warriors’ 41, wrapping up Gators tailback Jaquon Reynolds.

“He is our quick edge guy,” Ruane said of Haynes. “We didn’t know what to expect (from Gateway on the play). Jake got off the ball quickly.”

Penn-Trafford hadn’t put together back-to-back wins against Gateway since 2001.

Delay of games

Several local teams had to sit through delays Friday night as lightning and storms moved through Allegheny County.

In McCandless, Norwin and North Allegheny were cruising along when several lightning strikes forced the teams into the locker room for an hour and 20 minutes.

By rule, each strike is a 30-minute delay.

The teams resumed played at 10:52 p.m. and the game did not end until about 11:30.

North Allegheny won 42-17.

Norwin cut it to 28-17 late in the third on a 36-yard field goal by Joey Castle.

Norwin game-planned and watched film during the delay.

“The guys had music playing to stay locked in,” Norwin quarterback Luke Levendosky said. “It was different. We’re not used to playing at 11 and later. The stadium was packed before the delay and almost empty after it.”

Norwin didn’t get back to North Huntingdon until after 1 a.m.

Another cancellation

The Brownsville at Mt. Pleasant game scheduled for Friday night was canceled and ruled a no contest by the WPIAL.

Brownsville told Mt. Pleasant it did not have enough players to compete because covid-19 concerns.

Mt. Pleasant did not pursue another opponent on late notice for Friday night or Saturday, athletic director Chris Brunson said. The fourth-ranked Vikings (4-2, 2-0) will wait until next week to play again when it travels to No. 5 Elizabeth Forward (4-2, 2-0) for a key Class 3A Interstate Conference game.

Brownsville is 0-5, 0-3.

GCC-Clairton up next

A team looking to be part of the conference championship conversation in the Eastern A, Greensburg Central Catholic, will get a shot at a statement game next week.

The Centurions (5-2, 3-1), who have yet to crack the top-five rankings this season, will travel No. 1 Clairton (4-2, 4-0).

GCC pummeled Riverview, 66-0, on Friday.

The Bears will play after a week off. They accepted a forfeit from Imani Christian last week.

Imani also forfeited to GCC in Week 3.

Clairton beat GCC last year, 57-18, but only 21-14 in 2019.

Belle Vernon No. 2 in state

Belle Vernon continues to surge in rankings far and wide. The Leopards (6-0, 4-0) are No. 2 in Trib HSSN Class 4A state rankings, behind No. 1 Jersey Shore of District 4.

The WPIAL is well-represented, with the power apparently tipping the scale toward the west side of the commonwealth.

Thomas Jefferson is No. 3, Aliquippa No. 4 and Harrisburg Bishop McDevitt No. 5.

Wehner set to return

Next week will mark the return of quarterback Payton Wehner to the area. Wehner, who is from North Huntingdon but plays at Central Catholic, will join the two-time defending WPIAL champion Vikings for a road trip to Hempfield.

Wehner has made tremendous strides after returning from a broken leg. Heading into Friday’s game at No. 2 Mt. Lebanon, he had completed 62 of 98 passes for 724 yards and seven touchdowns. He also had three rushing touchdowns.

Saturday Night Live

The county has seen a high number of Saturday games this season and the trend will continue next weekend.

Jeannette, which has had players return from injury, will visit Bishop Canevin on Saturday night in a Class A Eastern Conference game.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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