With his team up by just two points at the half in a low-scoring game Saturday, the coach of the defending City League champs had a feeling one of his players would make a big play that would open things up in the second half.
For Donta Green, it wasn’t a case of “if” but rather “who.”
“I was waiting,” Green said. “I didn’t know who was going to make it, but I had faith that somebody was going to make a big play.”
Little did Green know then that the game-breaking play would come on special teams from a freshman who had not scored a touchdown all season.
Jordan Reid returned the second-half kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown to ignite a strong final two quarters for No. 1 Westinghouse, which went on to defeat No. 2 University Prep, 42-14, in the City League championship on a rainy afternoon at Cupples Stadium.
Quarterback Khalil Green ran for four touchdowns for the Bulldogs (9-0), who won their second consecutive title, fourth in five years and 39th all time. The Bulldogs have dropped just one game to a City League opponent in four seasons (Allderdice in the 2021 final), and improved to 48-4 in their past 52 games. University Prep (7-3) was aiming to win its first title since 2016.
“It’s really good because we push our kids really hard,” Donta Green said. “We demand a lot from them. I’m just happy the fruits of our labor actually come to fruition.”
Don’t let the final score fool you. This was a tight game, at least for a half. Westinghouse, which defeated University Prep, 34-18, on Sept. 14, held just an 8-6 halftime lead against the Wildcats on Saturday. The Bulldogs mustered only 121 yards of offense in the half.
Reid, though, essentially said, “the heck with offense,” and used a gigantic special teams play to help Westinghouse surge ahead on the very first play of the second half. Reid corralled the kickoff at his own 11 and raced up the right sideline for his first career touchdown. Khalil Green’s 2-point run then extended the Westinghouse lead to 16-6.
“When I got my chance, I had to take it to the crib,” said Reid, a 5-foot-9, 160-pound wide receiver and the team’s only freshman starter. “It means a lot, but there will be many more.”
The touchdown ignited what turned out to be a 28-0 run to start the second half for Westinghouse, which quickly found itself holding a 36-6 lead courtesy of Green’s fourth touchdown run of the game and third of the second half with 4:27 remaining.
“High school football is unique in that it’s all about momentum,” University Prep coach Lou Berry said. “So, as soon as something goes bad, all it takes is one individual to kind of drop his head. And the next thing you know it’s exploited and it kind of got out of our control just based on our special teams.”
After finding minimal running room in the first half, Green found a lot of green in the second half. He finished with 15 carries for 86 yards, scoring on touchdown runs of 3, 3, 61 and 18 yards.
“This was my biggest game, and I stepped up,” said Green, a junior and Westinghouse’s first-year starting quarterback.
University Prep’s Daniel “Boy Boy” Cain, one of the fastest players in Western Pennsylvania, made the most of his opportunities. He caught a ball from Max Qureshi and took it 38 yards for a touchdown to open the scoring less than a minute into the game. Cain also accounted for the team’s other touchdown, taking a kickoff 93 yards for a score with 4:07 left.
It was a difficult game offensively for University Prep, which had major trouble running the ball and couldn’t get much going in the passing game. Qureshi, the City League’s leading passer, was often off the mark and finished 13 of 38 for 173 yards. Qureshi returned from injury after suffering a concussion in the regular-season finale. He played only two series in that game and was held out of last week’s 32-8 semifinal win against Perry.
“I think Max was rusty. He hadn’t played real football in a couple of weeks,” Berry said.
Michael Richardson added a late touchdown for Westinghouse, scoring on a 52-yard run. In addition to that touchdown and Green’s four scores, senior running back Ty Abrams was a workhorse, running for 117 yards on 21 carries.
Both teams qualify for the PIAA playoffs, University Prep in Class 4A and Westinghouse in Class 2A.
A season ago, Westinghouse followed up its City League title by becoming the first City League team in 25 years to advance to the PIAA final. The Bulldogs fell to District 4 power Southern Columbia, 37-22, in the final.
Westinghouse has worked up quite an appetite to win the school’s first state title, but the Bulldogs must first take care of something else on their plate.
“We’re hungry for practice on Monday,” Donta Green said, smiling. “That’s the only thing on our mind right now, is practice on Monday.”