Woodland Hills regroups, thumps Franklin Regional

Saturday, October 10, 2020 | 12:00 AM

Franklin Regional opened Friday’s WPIAL Class 5A Big East Conference game against Woodland Hills with a trick play.

It caught Woodland Hills’ defense by surprise.

The end-around pass from wide receiver Mario Sarnic to fellow wide receiver Jeffrey Downs had the Woodland Hills defense fooled. It was designed to be a touchdown. Instead the pass to the wide-open Downs fell incomplete.

That set the tone for the Panthers. Their offense struggled against Woodland Hills’ quickness and aggressive front.

Woodland Hills (4-1, 2-1) recovered from that first-play scare and rebounded from its loss at No. 4 Penn-Trafford last week to defeat Franklin Regional, 32-13, at the Wolvarena. The loss ended Franklin Regional’s three-game winning streak.

“What if?” Franklin Regional coach Greg Botta said. “Here’s the thing we thought about: They are very skilled, and they had three starters back from last week. They came to play on their homecoming.

“We knew going in there were things we couldn’t do, and that was make the mistakes we made early in the game and then try to capitalize on big plays. Sometimes that first play of the game makes the difference.”

Woodland Hills coach Tim Bostard said he didn’t know how his team would play after a couple of poor practices. He was proud of how they responded after the loss. He wasn’t sure how they would have responded if that first play had connected.

“I often wonder how kids would react to something like that,” Bostard said. “Fortunately for us, the guy threw it a little bit short, and they didn’t come up with it.”

Woodland Hills made very few mistakes. Its offensive and defensive lines were dominant.

Quarterback Deontae Williams threw two touchdown passes: 47 yards to Omari Daniels and 4 yards to Armani Bailey. Eris Seibles scored on a 5-yard run as Woodland Hills grabbed a 20-7 lead at halftime.

Seibles’ score was set up when Jeremiah Ramsey sacked Franklin Regional quarterback Trevor Brncic and swiped it from his hands.

After Daniels turned a bubble screen into a touchdown, Williams forced a pass that Franklin Regional’s Jermaine Turner intercepted.

Franklin Regional was able to take a 7-6 lead when Brncic connected with Jeffrey Downs for a 13-yard score. The two also connected on a 25-yard score in the final minute of the game.

Brncic, who was under extreme pressure the entire game, completed 11 of 18 passes for 139 yards.

But Woodland Hills plowed away and grabbed a 14-7 lead when Williams connected with Bailey.

Seibles, who rushed for 103 yards, added two second-half touchdowns on runs of 5 and 14 yards.

Williams, who rushed for 92 yards, completed 7 of 11 passes for 130 yards.

“The kids did a great job refocusing and getting back on track,” Bostard said. “We were able to get after them. We have pretty strong kids, and I feel we can match up well with anybody.”

Botta said the difference was Woodland Hills’ lines.

“We did a poor job up front, and we did a poor job tackling,” Botta said. “We have to get better. The thing I liked about the team was we kept fighting, and that’s what it’s about. You may not win every game, but you have to keep on fighting to the end.”

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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