The South Fayette football team had committed six turnovers all season before coughing it up six times during Friday’s 35-21 win over Beaver Falls in the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals Friday night.
Washington High School, meanwhile, hadn’t given up more than two touchdowns in a game all year, but the Prexies trailed, 14-0, with 4:15 left in the opening quarter before rallying for a 33-17 victory over Seton-La Salle.
Neither South Fayette nor Wash High put its best foot forward Friday yet still advanced to play each other in this week’s semifinal round. Both, of course, will be looking to make plenty of corrections before kickoff.
“That was the worst game we’ve played all year,” South Fayette wide receiver Zach Challingsworth said. “We had six turnovers. There are a lot of corrections to make, and we have a good Wash High team that we’re going to face. We have to get a good week of practice.”
Believe it or not, Lions coach Joe Rossi had an even more direct way of putting it.
“Six turnovers … we won’t last very long this week if that’s the kind of effort we get,” Rossi said.
No. 2 seed South Fayette (11-0) and No. 3 Wash High (11-0) will play each other for a third straight year, though it’s the first time in the playoffs after they split a pair of meetings as members of the Class AA Century Conference in 2010 and ’11.
South Fayette had allowed just 37 points all year before giving up a season-high 21 to the Tigers, who rushed for 326 yards.
Perhaps the biggest problem for South Fayette was 5-9, 180-pound junior running back Damian Rawl, who carried 26 times for 182 yards. Rawl may significantly have less yards than Wash High’s Shai McKenzie – 1,169 to 2,363 – but his running style could present problems for the Lions.
“We tried to solo tackle, but we have to gang tackle,” Challingsworth said. “It’s only going to get tougher this week.”
Wash High fell victim to Seton-La Salle’s passing game, as Rebels quarterback Luke Brumbaugh completed 17 of 32 passes for 217 yards and those two first-quarter touchdowns, with Brumbaugh hitting on six of his first 10 attempts.
Luke’s younger brother, Brett, quarterbacks South Fayette’s high-powered attack, and the sophomore threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns against Beaver Falls. On the season, he leads the WPIAL with 2,583 passing yards and 36 touchdowns.
“I think it’s just a matter of the kids getting comfortable,” Wash High coach Mike Bosnic said. “Seton does some really nice things and so does South Fayette. I think some of it was familiarity, but maybe it is a good thing to transition from Seton to South Fayette because even though you work on it at practice, it’s still different when you get into the games.”
Bottom line, both teams were challenged in ways they haven’t been all year. And both came out the better for it. The mission now is to correct the exposed mistakes and hopefully advance to the WPIAL Class AA championship game at Heinz Field.
“I’m happy,” Bosnic said. “We could have played better. We hurt ourselves at times. But the kids showed a lot of resiliency and made me proud.”