Greensburg Salem blanks Indiana to clinch WPIAL playoff berth
Looking to secure the final WPIAL Class 4A playoff spot, Greensburg Salem overcame the cold rain and an Indiana team in a similar situation at Andy Kuzneski Field.
The visiting Golden Lions got a pair of touchdowns and a field goal to defeat Indiana Area, 17-0, to sew up fourth place in the Big 8 Conference.
A 49-yard scoring run by Aaren Putt and a 15-yard keeper by Trent Patrick sandwiched a 30-yard field goal by Wyatt Ramer to earn the 17th playoff berth in school history.
Also, a number of clutch defensive plays helped keep the Indians off the scoreboard.
Greensburg Salem (4-6, 4-3) will find out its opening-round playoff opponent Monday night at the WPIAL pairings meeting at the Green Tree Double Tree Hotel.
It will be the first playoff appearance for the Golden Lions since 2011.
“It was a back-and-forth game,” Golden Lions coach Dave Keefer said. “Indiana came ready to play tonight. I think both teams fought the elements tremendously tonight.”
The Indians (3-7, 3-4) drove to the Greensburg 10-yard line early in second quarter and were looking to cap a 16-play drive with a field-goal attempt. But a high snap gave Tyler Williams time to break through and tackle holder Chase Cunningham for a 10-yard loss.
Four plays later, Putt bounced off the Indians middle linebacker and skirted the right sideline for a 49-yard scoring run.
Indiana drove to the Golden Lions 20 late in the half but lost possession on downs.
The Indians ran 34 plays in the first half to Greensburg Salem’s 16.
The biggest Indiana threat came in the third quarter when it got inside the Golden Lions 10. But senior Adam Cuccia recovered a fumble at 7 to halt the drive.
“We got the turnover there, and that was a big play in the game,” Keefer said. “Our defense has struggled this year at times, but talk about showing up and playing good football tonight. Our defensive staff worked hard to give us the ability to win the game.”
Early in the fourth quarter, Indiana was ready to try to convert and fourth-and-2 near midfield, but an illegal procedure penalty forced the Indians to punt.
“They made the big plays, they didn’t turn the ball over and get penalized like we did,” Indiana first-year coach Brandon Overdorff said. “They played the cleaner game and they’re off to the playoffs.”
Greensburg Salem then drove to the Indiana 13 and settled for Ramer’s 30-yard field goal.
The Indians lost the ball on downs again in Golden Lions territory. That set the stage for an insurance touchdown by Patrick two plays after Dajauhn Hertzog’s 31-yard run.
“We made a call there late in the game with Hertzog and (Jalen) Page,” Keefer said. “I asked them about getting the exchange on a double handoff and that was a nice play.”
Luke Thomas finished with 96 passing yards in his final game at Indiana, and Jeremy Thomas ran for 76 yards.
The last Greensburg Salem playoff victory came in 2000 against Hopewell.