Penn-Trafford runs over North Hills
Penn-Trafford football coach John Ruane was sitting in his office after Friday’s WPIAL Class 5A first-round game with his feet on his desk.
When your football team turns in the type of performance his did, there was a reason the coach felt that way.
Ruane was looking for a solid performance from his team. Instead, the Warriors turned in a dominating effort that surprised even their coach.
Penn-Trafford (9-2) shredded the North Hills defense with a dominating running game and rolled to an impressive 42-7 victory over No. 13 North Hills (6-5) at Warrior Stadium. It was the seventh time Penn-Trafford and North Hills met in the opening round of the playoffs, and Penn-Trafford has won the past two convincingly.
Junior running back Caleb Lisbon rushed for 180 yards and three touchdowns -- all in the first half -- and quarterback Gabe Dunlap added 91 yards and two scores as Penn-Trafford opened up a 35-0 lead at halftime. Dunlap also completed 7 of 15 passes for 100 yards.
The second half was played under the mercy rule (running clock), but it didn’t stop the Warriors from scoring on their first possession with the second team. Junior running back Sam Fanelli rushed for 45 yards, and sophomore Brad Ford capped the 80-yard drive with a 40-yard touchdown run. Fanelli also had an 80-yard touchdown run nullified by a penalty during the drive.
“We played well,” Ruane said. “We challenged the guys to come out and match North Hills’ physicality, and I thought we did that. Our defense was lights out like they have been for the last three weeks.
“We were impressive. I thought what really was good was the way we ran the football. We established the run, and we broke some big plays and Gage was fantastic when plays broke down.”
Penn-Trafford outrushed North Hills, 366-132, and outgained the Indians, 466-166.
After Dunlap scored on a 5-yard run to open the scoring, a play after Lisbon ripped of a 76-yard run, Lisbon scored the next three on runs of 41, 2 and 23 yards. He also had a fourth touchdown, a 22-yard dash, called back because of a penalty.
“The offensive line definitely came out ready to play,” Lisbon said. “They were making holes up front for me, and the wide receivers were getting in the secondary and making extra lanes for me. It perfect execution. I just wish I could have kept going on the long run.”
Penn-Trafford sliced through the North Hills defense on its first three possessions. If it wasn’t Lisbon, it was the scrambling ability of Dunlap.
“Their quarterback was good with his feet and throwing the ball,” North Hills coach Pat Carey said. “That’s a dangerous combination, and their offensive line blocked really well up front.”
Dunlap scored on a 2-yard run with 9 seconds left in the first half make is 35-0. His came after he connected on consecutive passes to Nike Rosso (24 yards), Ethan Carr (18 yards) and Noah Allen (7 yards).
“I definitely hoped we’d come out strong and physical,” Rosso said. “I’m glad the young guys stepped up under pressure. Caleb and Gabe are both such explosive players. The line did a great job. If you give those guys space, they’ll make plays.”
North Hills avoided a shutout in the fourth quarter as Curtis Foskey scored on a 1-yard run against Penn-Trafford’s reserves.
The Warriors’ Dimitri George intercepted North Hills quarterback Tyler Brennan in the second quarter, and they held the fleet-footed runner to 23 yards on 12 carries.
“Caleb’s big run was a tone setter,” Ruane said. “It showed that we came to play.”