McMURRAY – When the South Fayette and Seton-La Salle football teams took the field earlier this season, it wasn’t much of a contest. Brett Brumbaugh threw for over 300 yards and the Lions coasted to a rout.
With the increased stakes of a playoff quarterfinal game, it was unlikely that there would be a repeat of the 45-3 score. The Rebels were looking to redeem themselves and show they could hang with the Lions.
For one half, Seton-La Salle gave South Fayette all it could handle. Then one mistake led to another, and another, and they just kept on coming.
South Fayette forced six second-half turnovers, Brett Brumbaugh threw for 446 yards, and the Lions went on to defeat Seton-La Salle, 31-7, Friday in a WPIAL Class AA quarterfinal game at Peters Township. The Lions advance to play Beaver Falls in the semifinals next week at a site to be determined.
“They faced a little adversity they hadn’t faced all year, and you see how they stepped up at halftime,” said Lions coach Joe Rossi. “It’s a rival. It’s never easy to play a team a second time. We knew it wouldn’t be like the first time.”
As tightly contested as the first half was, it looked like the team that made the first mistake would end up on the losing end. That ended up being Seton-La Salle (8-3), which drove to the South Fayette 9-yard line to begin the second half of a 7-7 game before the trouble started.
A false start penalty backed up the Rebels, then Ben Berkovitz sacked quarterback Tyler Perone for the third time, jarring the ball loose, and teammate Spencer Girman recovered it. From there, it took just four plays for Brumbaugh to march his team down the field and hook up with Conner Beck for a 43-yard, tiebreaking touchdown.
“I watched a lot of film from the first game, and I noticed my swim move was working, so I thought why not repeat that,” said Berkovitz.
That began a trend. Every second-half possession for the Rebels ended in a turnover, and most resulted in South Fayette points. Two exceptions were when the Lions (11-0) fumbled the ball back to Seton-La Salle.
“They were flying around,” said Rossi. “We just made sure that we designed some things and disguised some things. We couldn’t let him sit back and pick us apart.”
But with the way things went in the second half for South Fayette, even its first turnover wasn’t a bad thing. Seton-La Salle took over at its own 1-yard line but promptly fumbled it right back to the Lions, with J.J. Walker recovering, and Brumbaugh found Justin Watson in the corner of the end zone for a 21-7 lead.
An interception by Watson on fourth and 24, which actually cost the Lions yardage compared to if Watson just batted the ball down, allowed South Fayette to open the game up even more. On the first play after the change of possession, Watson got behind the defense for an 87-yard strike.
“We set it up all game, and they finally bit on it,” said Brumbaugh. “We knew we could get it.”
“I think (Watson) just wanted a little bit more yardage for Brums,” joked Rossi.
Brumbaugh started slow, completing just 7 of his first 19 passes for 83 yards but finished 31 of 51 for 446 yards. Watson hauled in nine passes for 181 yards and Beck finished with 11 grabs for 126 yards.
South Fayette scored 31 unanswered points, with 21 coming in the third quarter, all 21 a result of a Seton-La Salle turnover.
“Our defense gets a lot of turnovers,” said Brumbaugh. “That’s what fuels our offense. When we get a turnover, we want to get the ball and go down and score as quick as possible.”