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South Fayette ousts Greensburg Salem in Class 4A quarters

November 26, 2018

The South Fayette football team already beat Greensburg Salem once this season but knew it couldn’t take this game for granted.

Second-seeded South Fayette built an early lead to top seventh-seeded Greensburg Salem, 42-6, and advance to the WPIAL Class 4A semifinals against third-seeded Belle Vernon at a site and time to be determined.

“We lost the last two years in repeat games,” South Fayette coach Joe Rossi said. “The first time we played them, it was 28-14 at the half. It wasn’t a cake walk. Our kids came out explosive today and took care of business early.”

South Fayette beat Greensburg Salem, 51-28, in a nonconference showdown in Week 3.

South Fayette (10-1) scored on its first offensive play as Andrew Franklin ran untouched up the middle for 84 yards.

“Anytime you can hit a big home run early, it’s big,” Rossi said. “When you jump on them early, they try to keep up score wise with you and get out of their offense.”

On its next possession, South Fayette drove 54 yards on six plays before Nolan Lutz pulled in a 19-yard touchdown reception from Jamie Diven.

The Golden Lions (4-7) found success on their third drive. After South Fayette ran into the punter, Greensburg Salem received new life. But after a Jalen Page 3-yard run moved the offense past midfield for the first time, the Golden Lions offense sputtered.

“You look back and try to duplicate some of the things you did in the last game,” Greensburg Salem coach Dave Keefer said. “I thought we had some opportunities. We missed on a couple throws early on. Their guys have been in this situation, and ours haven’t. That was the big difference.”

Greensburg Salem’s defense forced a South Fayette three-and-out to start the second quarter. But Ryan Kokoski intercepted a pass on the first play of the ensuing Greensburg Salem drive. The senior ended up being the catalyst of three touchdowns in the second quarter. He pulled in TD receptions of 6 and 5 yards and returned an interception 51 yards for a touchdown.

“Those were his first couple touchdowns,” Rossi said. “He didn’t score all season. It was still a pretty tight game at that moment, and he made some plays to help put the game away.”

South Fayette outgained Greensburg Salem, 238-87, in the first half.

Late in the fourth quarter, Greensburg Salem blocked a South Fayette punt to set up Alexander Briggs’ 4-yard touchdown run.

It was the first playoff game for the Golden Lions since 2011. Keefer said he expects this experience to benefit a roster that will return numerous starters.

“I thought the last three years we have been on the cusp of breaking through,” Keefer said. “I think we played as difficult of a 4A schedule as anyone in 4A. Experience in the playoffs helps you when you move forward. We only played about three or four players on one side of the ball who were seniors.”

Franklin led the Lions with nine carries for 162 yards.

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