Penn Hills uses complete game to defeat North Hills
Penn Hills showed in its regular-season finale why it has dominated Class 5A teams all season.
The running game was unpredictable with a wide range of play calls, the passing attack was clutch in third down situations and the defense put on a clinic against a one-dimensional North Hills ground game.
The result was a 38-0 victory over North Hills to secure sole possession of the Northern Conference title and to enter the playoffs undefeated.
North Hills slipped to third place in the conference behind Mars, which beat Hampton.
Penn Hills scored in the first quarter despite accumulating four penalties on offense, and Hollis Mathis connected with Dante Cephas for a 37-yard touchdown pass on a third-and-long play.
Mathis’ second touchdown pass followed a fifth Penn Hills penalty on another third and long in the second quarter when he threw to Daequan Hardy for a 12-yard touchdown pass. Hardy found the end zone again on a 6-yard jet sweep to put Penn Hills up 18-0 going into halftime.
Mathis threw for 174 yards and three touchdowns, the third a 58-yard pass to running back Tank Smith, who ran for 100 yards on 13 carries and added a rushing touchdown.
A diverse rushing attack, which included quarterback keepers, between the tackles runs and jet sweeps, was responsible for the majority of the workload for Penn Hills’ offense, with seven players combining for 40 rushes and 335 yards.
“On offense, we always talk about just taking care of the ball and execution,” Penn Hills coach John LeDonne said. “We did a pretty good job tonight taking care of the ball and executing in all phases of the game. We did a good job rushing, passing and blocking. I’m pretty happy with where we’re at.”
North Hills struggled to gain offensive traction, clawed its way to 23 yards by halftime and didn’t record a first down during a play until one minute remained in the second quarter. North Hills was only slightly more effective in the second half by featuring Curtis Foskey, who had 16 carries for 48 yards, in the running game.
“That was a good Penn Hills team, and they gave it to us pretty good while we also got some guys nicked up,” North Hills coach Pat Carey said. “But now we start our second season. We’ll turn the page from this, look at the tape tomorrow and move on. Now, we’re going to be in a 16-team bracket, and we’ll regroup, approach it one game at a time and get back out there.”
Penn Hills struggled with penalties, finishing with 16 for 126 yards.
“Defensively, we talk about being fast and physical,” LeDonne said. “We’re going to hit everything that moves. Our guys did a great job doing that, but penalties we’ve got to get corrected. We’ve been working on that all year. Sometimes, emotions get involved and carry over after the play. We have to correct that (in the playoffs).”