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Penn Hills uses strong second half to win 5A WPIAL Championship 28-18

Written by: on Saturday, November 24th, 2018

 

Photo Will McBride

After a shocking upset against unbeaten and defending WPIAL champion Gateway, West Allegheny looked to pull off another upset against unbeaten Penn Hills. Penn Hills got the ball to start the game but they went three and out and punted the ball away.

West Allegheny did nothing with the ball on their first drive possession and Penn Hills got the ball back. After a Tank Smith run they were at the West Allegheny 44. They would get inside the 30. But after that the drive stalled and they turned the ball over on downs.

That’s when West Allegheny put together a nice drive it started at 5:29 mark of the first quarter. After a run by Kam Kruze they were at the Penn Hills 17. The drive didn’t result in a touchdown but they did get a field goal which was a 37 yarder by John McArdle. That made the score 3-0 West Allegheny with 10:14 in the second quarter.

The next 2 possessions for Penn Hills one stalled at the 30 yard line. The other one ended in an interception and West Allegheny would capitalize on that turnover. Kam Kruze connected with Drevon Baldwin for a 13 yard touchdown which made it 10-0 with 1:40 left in the half.

Penn Hills got back into the game quickly before the half ended. The big play was when Hollis Mathis connected on a deep pass to Dante Cephas for a 56 yard touchdown. “That was a pivotal point in the game for us, getting points before the half knowing they were getting the ball coming back out of halftime” said Coach LeDonne. That made the score 10-6 at the half.

West Allegheny was putting a brilliant drive together to start the second half. A key part to keep the drive going was when West Allegheny ran a fake punt in their own territory and it was a big gain to the Penn Hills 34. After another first down the ball was at the Penn Hills 10. West Allegheny ended up attempting a field which was partially blocked and it was no good. That was a turning point in the game because the drive took up half of the third quarter and it resulted in zero points. “Its big anytime you can keep points off the board” said Coach LeDonne.

A little over a minute later in the quarter Penn Hills took the lead. The drive had several big plays and it was finished off by Tank Smith on a 15 yard run. The score at the end of 3 was 14-10 Penn Hills. 20 seconds into the fourth quarter Penn Hills had another big strike when Mathis found Cephas for a second time in the game this one was a 65 yard touchdown and it was a screen pass believe it or not. After a 2 point conversion Penn Hills led 22-10.

Midway through the final quarter Mathis threw his third touchdown of the game when he found Richard Martin. That made it 28-10. West Allegheny quickly needed points and they came up with a big answer on a deep pass from Kam Kruze to Mateo Vandamia for a 54 yard touchdown. On the kickoff West Allegheny recovered an onside kick and suddenly West Allegheny had some life. Penn Hills though would stand strong on defense and ultimately West Allegheny turned the ball over on downs.

That was about it for the game. The final score was 28-18 Penn Hills. Mathis obviously had a big game he was 9 of 17 for 204 yards and had 3 touchdowns. His favorite receiver Dante Cephas had 3 catches for 144 yards and had 2 touchdowns. For West Allegheny Kam Kruze was 13 of 23 for 211 yards and had 2 touchdowns. Penn Hills advances to PIAA 5A Semifinals and will play 2 time defending state champion Archbishop Wood next Friday or Saturday and a time and location to be determined.

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