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Game of the Week

Tough lesson

Ellwood City (0) vs. South Fayette (35)
Written: Nov 06, 2010
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By JOE SAGER

ncsports@ncnewsonline.com

McDONALD — Ellwood City Lincoln High has made a lot of progress on the gridiron the past three seasons.

The Wolverines have learned plenty of things along the way, too.

Last night, they experienced something new — a playoff game for the first time since 2000. However, it was a tough lesson to endure as South Fayette rolled to a 35-0 home victory in a WPIAL Class AA first-round game.

The Lions (10-0) will face Freeport, a 30-22 winner over Jeannette, in a quarterfinal clash Friday at a site and time to be determined by the WPIAL.

“That was a good football team we played,” South Fayette coach Joe Rossi said. “When I saw our draw, I was a little worried because we saw them play Beaver Falls. They could have beaten them and, watching them against everybody in that league, they competed with everybody.”

The same could not be said for Ellwood City before Don Phillips and his staff took over in 2008. The Wolverines were mired in a long losing streak and were out of games in the first half, but made steady improvement and developed into a formidable foe. They went from 0-9 to 1-8 in two years. This defeat capped a solid turnaround season for Ellwood City (6-4), which earned its way back into the postseason gridiron dance.

“We had some chances; we had some opportunities,” Phillips said. “We were in uncharted waters. These kids didn’t know what they were getting into. To our seniors, I thank them for putting our program where I know it can be. They brought us from 0-9 when they were sophomores to 6-3 entering the playoffs. I can’t say enough good things about that group. I know they are brokenhearted right now. They had visions this was going to be a big, positive night for them and it didn’t work out that way. We made too many mistakes. You can’t make that many mistakes in the playoffs and you can’t make mistakes against a good football team like South Fayette because, every time you do, they are going to make you pay for it. They did.”

Despite the lopsided outcome, the Wolverines were in the game and trailed, 14-0, at halftime. So, Phillips hopes his younger players can use the postseason experience as an asset next season.

“No doubt about it. Anytime you take a program over and going from no victories to now — you have to learn how to win. You have to learn what it takes to move to that next level,” Phillips said. “Right now, as much as this hurts and it’s going to take a while for that sting to go away for these kids, it is the next step. When you get into the playoffs, you get into a different level of intensity. Everybody here is good, so you have to step up your game. I think our younger kids saw that and realize that, if you’re going to be invited to this party, you have to step up your game, not only in the first round, but every round after that. We’re going to learn from that and build from that. I think a lot of the younger kids have a better appreciation of what has to happen, intensity-wise and not just X and O-wise.”

Sensing Ellwood City’s playoff inexperience, South Fayette went on the attack immediately. Christian Brumbaugh, the WPIAL’s leading passer, threw a 51-yard scoring strike to Jeff Davis, who snuck past the Wolverines’ defense for a touchdown 56 seconds into the fray.

“We were baptized last year,” Rossi said. “So, we knew we wanted to jump on these guys, knowing it was their first time in the playoffs in 10 years.”

Ellwood City regrouped after that long play and held strong. The Wolverines’ defense created a quality scoring chance when it sacked Brumbaugh for a big loss and forced a fumble that Matthew Morella covered on the South Fayette 14. However, two plays later, Mike Fetchet intercepted Gino Ceriani’s pass in the end zone to stop the threat.

The Lions rode that momentum for an 80-yard drive to post a 14-0 lead with 6:30 left in the half.

Ellwood City countered with a solid march of its own. The Wolverines advanced to the South Fayette 9, but Scott Lewis missed a 26-yard field goal with 39.3 seconds remaining in the half to preserve the 14-0 margin.

The Lions intercepted another Ceriani pass on the first drive of the third quarter. The hosts turned it into points four plays later when Brumbaugh lofted a 26-yard scoring aerial to Josh Patterson for a 21-0 lead.

Brumbaugh took to the air again late in the quarter for a 17-yard TD strike to Zach Collingsworth to give the hosts a 28-0 edge.  

“We wanted to come after (Brumbaugh). I know we hit him a few times and I know he hasn’t been hit like that before. I think we stung him, but we needed to get to him quicker and we needed to get to him more often to try to throw him off his rhythm,” Phillips said. “I know there were times, especially in the first half, where we did throw him off his rhythm a little bit and created some problems. But, it’s one of those things that has to happen all game long. Unfortunately for us, we just didn’t get to him quick enough and get some hits on him. I compliment their receivers; their kids made some catches.”

While Brumbaugh proved to be a baron of the skies with 194 yards passing, South Fayette completed a solid ground campaign. Davis collected 104 yards on 20 carries, while Trevor Fiorentini toted eight times for 95 yards — 61 of those coming on the final TD of the encounter.

“We felt all along they have a nice running back (in Davis). He runs hard,” Phillips said. “The thing he hurt us with, and what we kept telling the kids, is his cutback ability. We knew that was going to be there, but they were able to catch a couple of those cutback lanes and keep the ball moving down the field for first downs.”

The Lions proved they had more than an aerial attack, which is crucial for playoff advancement.

“We had showed we could throw it as well as run it. We had some kids step up and make plays defensively, too,” Rossi said. “So, it’s nice to move on.”

ELLWOOD CITY SOUTH FAYETTE

6 First downs 18

99 Yards Rushing 231

9 Yards Lost 28

90 Net Rushing 203

17 Passes Attempted 15

6 Passes Completed 9

4 Passes Intercepted 1

41 Yards Passing 194

131 Total Yards 397

3-0 Fumbles-Lost 2-1

5-45 Punts-Average 3-34

4-25 Penalties-Yards 7-50

ELLWOOD CITY 0 0 0 0 — 0

SOUTH FAYETTE 7 7 14 7 — 35

Scoring plays

SOUTH FAYETTE — Jeff Davis, 51-yard pass from Christian Brumbaugh (Tyler Yee kick).

SOUTH FAYETTE — Trevor Fiorentino, 4-yard run (Yee kick).

SOUTH FAYETTE — Josh  Patterson, 26-yard pass from Brumbaugh (Yee kick).

SOUTH FAYETTE — Zach Collingsworth, 17-yard pass from Brumbaugh (Yee kick).

SOUTH FAYETTE — Fiorentino, 61-yard run (Yee kick).

GAME SCOREBOARD
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 OT SCORE
Ellwood City 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Fayette 7 7 14 7 0 35
GAME OF THE WEEK ARCHIVE
One step short 12/3/16 Neshannock season comes to end 11/27/16 The (im)perfect season 11/19/16 WPIAL championship game 11/18/16 New Castle advances to WPIAL Class 4A title game 11/11/16 Neshannock routs Serra Catholic 11/4/16 Neshannock hosts Serra Catholic 11/4/16 Thriller 10/28/16 Union at Shenango 10/28/16 'Canes stumble; playoff berth on line in finale 10/21/16 New Castle hosts Ringgold on Senior Night 10/21/16 Wilmington falls in battle of unbeatens 10/15/16 Wilmington at Hickory 10/13/16 On the defensive 10/8/16 Neshannock hosts Riverside 10/7/16 New Castle struggles in home loss to Mars 9/30/16 New Castle hosts Mars 9/30/16 'Canes hope to even score against Mars 9/30/16 Stayin' alive 9/23/16 Union hosts Western Beaver 9/23/16 Ground assault 9/17/16 Wilmington hosts Sharpsville 9/16/16 Too many mistakes for Laurel 9/10/16 Riverside travels to Laurel 9/9/16 Neshannock routs North Catholic 9/3/16 Canes quipped 8/31/16 A good mix 8/27/16 Black Friday 11/14/15 Wilmington vs. Cambridge Springs 11/13/15 Defense steps up for Lancers 11/7/15 Neshannock vs. Bentworth 11/5/15 No doubt about it 10/31/15 Neshannock vs. Union 10/30/15 Crowning effort 10/24/15 Shenango vs. Riverside 10/23/15 Playoff hopes dashed 10/17/15 Laurel vs. Beaver 10/16/15 A costly brawl 10/10/15 New Castle vs. Central Valley 10/9/15 Inching closer 10/3/15 Union vs. Shenango 10/2/15 'They had us on our heels' 9/26/15 South Side Beaver at Union 9/25/15 Shootout 9/19/15 Neshannock at Riverside 9/18/15 Pivotal 9/13/15 Neshannock, Shenango clash Saturday 9/11/15 Under the weather 9/5/15 New Brighton at Laurel 9/4/15 Heartbreaker 11/15/14 Neshannock vs. Clairton 11/14/14 Weathering the storm 11/8/14 Neshannock vs. Jeannette 11/7/14 Fast and furious 11/1/14 Springdale at Shenango 10/31/14 Opportunity lost 10/25/14 Sharpsville at Wilmington 10/24/14 One for the books 10/18/14 Ellwood City at Laurel 10/17/14 Ground war 10/11/14 Ellwood City at Mohawk 10/10/14 Drenched with happiness 10/4/14 South Side Beaver at Shenango 10/3/14 The perfect storm 9/27/14 Moon at New Castle 9/26/14 Coming up short 9/20/14 West Middlesex at Wilmington 9/19/14 Back in the saddle 9/13/14 Neshannock at Riverside 9/12/14 Tough act to follow 9/6/14 New Brighton at Ellwood City 9/5/14 'We will get better' 8/30/14 West Allegheny vs. New Castle 8/29/14 End of the road 11/16/13 Neshannnock vs. North Catholic 11/15/13 'Sharks in a frenzy' 11/9/13 Lancers advance to WPIAL semifinals 11/9/13 Neshannock vs. Monessen 11/8/13 The best defense 11/2/13 Neshannock vs. Brentwood 11/1/13 'We battled to the end' 10/26/13 New Brighton at Mohawk 10/25/13 Costly blunders 10/19/13 Sto-Rox at Laurel 10/18/13 West Allegheny rallies in fourth to defeat 'Canes 10/12/13 West Allegheny at New Castle 10/11/13 Mohawk wins thriller behind McConahy, Barber 10/5/13 Ellwood City at Mohawk 10/4/13 Spartans ride big second half to win over Union 9/28/13 Laurel at Union 9/27/13 Burkes stars as Lancers escape upset bid 9/21/13 Shenango at Neshannock 9/20/13 So close ... 9/13/13 Neshannock at Sto-Rox 9/12/13 Run to glory 9/7/13 Laurel at Neshannock 9/6/13 Dando, Spartans roll over South Side Beaver 9/5/13 South Side Beaver vs. Laurel 8/30/13 Turnovers spell doom for Wilmington in D-10 title game 11/26/12 Wilmington vs. Hickory 11/24/12 Caught in a 'Bear' trap 11/17/12 Neshannock vs. Clairton in WPIAL Class A semifinals 11/15/12 Neshannock advances 11/10/12 Neshannock vs. Monessen 11/9/12 Neshannock vs. Monessen 11/9/12 Neshannock vs. Monessen 11/8/12 Neshannock advances 11/3/12 Neshannock vs. Jefferson-Morgan 11/2/12 Down and out 10/27/12 New Castle at Hopewell 10/26/12 Pugh paces Wilmington to win over Sharon 10/22/12 Wilmington vs. Sharon 10/19/12 Mohawk falls to Beaver 10/13/12 Beaver vs. Mohawk 10/12/12 ‘We tip our hats to them’ 10/8/12 Neshannock at Rochester 10/5/12 Big-play display for Union 9/29/12 Union vs. Laurel 9/28/12 Lancers rout Shenango for fourth win 9/24/12 Blend of old, new sparks Union win 9/22/12 Union hosts Western Beaver 9/21/12 ’Hounds rise up for win over Hickory 9/15/12 Wilmington vs. Hickory 9/14/12 Milestone victory 9/10/12 New Castle at Riverside 9/7/12 699 and counting 9/1/12 New Castle vs. Central Valley 8/31/12 Turnovers lead to season-ending loss for Wilmington 11/21/11 Wilmington vs. General McLane 11/17/11 End of the dream 11/12/11 Ellwood vs. Greensburg Central 11/11/11 Ellwood advances 11/5/11 Ellwood City vs. Freeport 11/4/11 Mixed reviews 10/29/11 New Castle vs. Blackhawk 10/28/11 Wilmington rolls to Region 3 title 10/22/11 Wilmington vs. Sharon 10/21/11 It's Polka time 10/15/11 Ellwood City vs. Laurel 10/14/11 Aliquippa cruises past Ellwood City 10/8/11 Aliquippa vs. Ellwood City 10/7/11 Wilmington holds on for thrilling win over Hickory 10/1/11 Wilmington vs. Hickory 9/30/11 Union pulls away for win over South Side Beaver 9/24/11 South Side Beaver at Union 9/23/11 Big plays spell doom for New Castle 9/17/11 Central Valley vs. New Castle 9/16/11 Defense delivers for Neshannock 9/10/11 Defense delivers for Neshannock 9/10/11 Neshannock vs. Serra Catholic 9/9/11 New Castle suffers disappointing loss in opener 9/3/11 New Castle vs. Butler 9/2/11 Sharon ends Wilmington’s dominance 11/22/10 ‘Underdog’ Greyhounds move on to a rematch with Sharon 11/15/10 Wilmington vs. North East 11/12/10 Tough lesson 11/6/10 WPIAL Playoffs: Ellwood vs. South Fayette 11/5/10 Wolverines earn playoff berth 10/30/10 Riverside at Ellwood City 10/29/10 'Hounds lose heartbreaker 10/23/10 Wilmington at Sharon 10/22/10 Wolverines outlast Spartans 10/16/10 Laurel at Ellwood City 10/15/10 'Canes fall to Parkway foe Hopewell 10/9/10 New Castle to battle Hopewell 10/8/10 Lancers fall to Western Beaver 10/2/10 Western Beaver at Neshannock 10/1/10 Wolverines fall to Beaver 9/25/10 Beaver at Ellwood City 9/24/10 Shenango runs past South Side 9/20/10 Greyhounds lay hammer down on Greenville 9/11/10 Wilmington vs. Greenville 9/10/10 New Castle comes through 9/4/10 New Castle vs. Butler 9/4/10 Memorable run ends for Wilmington football team 12/14/09 Wilmington vs. Greensburg Catholic 12/11/09 Wilmington survives close call against Forest Hills 12/4/09 Wilmington vs. Forest Hills 12/4/09 Wilmington blanks Sharon 11/28/09 Wilmington vs. Sharon 11/27/09 Laurel season ends with setback 11/21/09 Laurel vs. Clairton in WPIAL semifinals 11/20/09 West Allegheny ends New Castle’s season 11/14/09 New Castle vs. West Allegheny 11/13/09 New Castle holds off Greensburg Salem 11/7/09 New Castle at Greensburg Salem 11/6/09 Wilmington routs Slippery Rock 10/30/09 Slippery Rock at Wilmington 10/30/09 Shenango blanks Union 10/24/09 Shenango at Union 10/23/09 Spartans overwhelm Monaca 10/17/09 Monaca at Laurel 10/16/09 Mohawk outlasts Ellwood City 10/10/09 Mohawk at Ellwood City 10/9/09 Rochester turns back Laurel in battle of unbeatens 10/3/09 Laurel at Rochester 10/2/09 Laurel opportunistic against Neshannock 9/26/09 Neshannock at Laurel 9/25/09 New Castle ends streak against Blackhawk 9/19/09 New Castle hosts Blackhawk 9/18/09 New Castle passes test against Indiana 9/12/09 Indiana at New Castle 9/11/09 Ellwood comes up short against Freedom 9/5/09 Freedom at Ellwood 9/4/09 Wilmington wins PIAA title! 12/15/08 'Hounds headed for Hershey 12/6/08 Wilmington vs. Aliquippa 12/5/08 Wilmington holds off Martinsburg Central 11/29/08 Wilmington edges Slippery Rock for District 10 title 11/24/08 "Down and Out" 11/19/08 New Castle outlasts Indiana in quarterfinals 11/8/08 New Castle vs. Indiana 11/7/08 New Castle vs. Indiana 11/6/08 New Castle routs Franklin Regional 11/1/08 Franklin Regional at New Castle 11/1/08 Laurel wins, but not enough 10/25/08 Shenango at Laurel 10/25/08 New Castle routs Ambridge 10/18/08 Ambridge at New Castle 10/18/08 Rochester blanks Neshannock 10/11/08 Wilmington handles Sharon 10/4/08 South Side Beaver blanks Neshannock 9/27/08 Neshannock vs. South Side Beaver 9/27/08 Neshannock holds off Laurel 9/20/08 Rochester blanks Union 9/13/08 Union-Rochester 9/12/08 Mohawk routs New Brighton 9/6/08 Butler outlasts New Castle 8/30/08
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