This Westinghouse team has developed a habit of starting slow, but you can’t keep these Bulldogs down for long.
After falling into a 14-point deficit in hostile territory in a PIAA Class 2A quarterfinal clash with District 10 champion host Farrell (10-2), things were looking bleak for Westinghouse (12-0) — but the Bulldogs never flinched. With their undefeated season hanging in the balance, they began chipping away at the lead, eventually tying the score in the fourth quarter. That’s when Taymir O’Neal decided to call “game.”
“It wasn’t supposed to go 68 yards,” O’Neal said. “Lloyd [Penn] came up to me in the huddle, because there was an injury timeout before that. He was like, ‘Hey, bro, go score. I believe in you.’ And I just told him, ‘I’m from Wilner. I’ve got you.’”
With the score tied and less than three minutes to play, O’Neal caught a simple slant route that was intended to pick up a few yards and maybe a first down. “Big Play Tay” had other plans, though — making a swarm of defenders miss and outracing the rest on his way to the end zone for a go-ahead, game-winning, how-did-he-do-that 68-yard touchdown. Sophomore standout Kyshawn Robinson then put the finishing touches on the comeback win with a pick-6 in the game’s final seconds, polishing off a 36-20 win for Westinghouse.
“We were hoping just for a first down. Just trying to get a drive going,” Bulldogs coach Donta Green said about O’Neal’s score. “But that’s what great players do. Especially great players with an amazing work ethic. They usually come through in the clutch when you really need it.”
Farrell raced to a 14-0 lead before Westinghouse got on the board with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Khalil Green to Lloyd Penn with 11 seconds left in the first half. The Steelers then fumbled away the opening kickoff of the second half, and the Bulldogs took advantage with a 3-yard touchdown run by Green to cut the deficit to 14-12.
Kabron Smith scored on a 3-yard run to stretch Farrell’s lead to 20-12 early in the fourth, then Westinghouse evened things on a 66-yard touchdown pass by Green. The Bulldogs defense came up with a huge fourth-down stop with less than three minutes to play, and moments later, O’Neal was off to the races for the game-changing score.
“It was just a business trip. Everybody is quiet right now,” O’Neal said on the bus ride home. “I’m not expecting to have an easy game with anybody this late in the season. If you made it this late, that means you want it bad, and we want it bad.”
Green completed 11-of-19 passes for 233 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 50 yards and another score, and Penn caught five passes for 77 yards and a touchdown while adding a crucial interception late in the fourth.
“We expected [Green] to do what he did,” Donta Green said. “We got glimpses of the things he could do over the last couple years. Being able to put points on the board as a freshman and a sophomore — what he’s doing now is what we expect, and we know this isn’t the end. He’s going to continue to get better and be a great pillar for our offense.”
Having never reached the PIAA quarterfinal round until 2021, Westinghouse now finds itself one win a way from consecutive state championship appearances. The Bulldogs will face WPIAL champion Beaver Falls (9-5) next week in the Class 2A Western regional final at a site to be determined.
“It is pretty cool. It’s full circle for us, because when I was a player at Westinghouse and for many years beforehand, we would scrimmage Beaver Falls every year,” Donta Green said. “I haven’t watched a lot of them, but you can throw the records and seeds out the window when it’s championship football time.”
It wasn’t quite the jaw-dropping performance he delivered in last week’s thrilling win against Central Catholic in the WPIAL title game, but North Allegheny quarterback Logan Kushner put his dual-threat abilities on full display once again in a 41-7 victory over District 10 champ McDowell (8-5).
Playing the final home game of his storied career at North Allegheny’s Newman Stadium, Kushner completed 6-of-9 passes for 174 yards and three touchdowns to go with 89 yards rushing and a score. Liam Flaherty finished with a game-high 90 yards rushing on 16 carries, and Evan Lyon caught three passes for 77 yards and two scores for the Tigers (12-1). Senior receiver Khiryn Boyd added a 25-yard touchdown run and a 66-yard touchdown reception, making a huge impact despite handling only three offensive touches in the game.
North Allegheny jumped to a 14-0 lead less than four minutes into the game and never looked back, leading to an even more lopsided result than the 43-24 victory the Tigers claimed at McDowell in early September in the first meeting between the teams. By the time Boyd scored on a 25-yard run with 8:35 left in the second quarter, North Allegheny already was up, 35-0. That activated the mercy rule at halftime, and the entire second half was played under a running clock.
The Tigers now will move on to face District 3 champion Harrisburg (12-1) in next week’s Western regional final at a site to be determined. Harrisburg defeated Manheim Township in overtime, 34-28, in that district final.
Nolan DiLucia passed for a career-high 301 yards and two touchdowns and Carter Shanafelt kicked four field goals to push WPIAL champion Peters Township (14-0) to a 33-14 win against Cathedral Prep (7-4) in a quarterfinal at Hagerty Events Center in Erie.
Fresh off its first WPIAL championship and playing in its first PIAA playoff game, Peters Township jumped to a 14-0 lead on the District 10 champs courtesy of two DiLucia touchdown passes. DiLucia tossed a 32-yard touchdown to Ethan Wertman on the game’s opening possession and added a 62-yard scoring strike to Thomas Aspinwall later in the quarter.
Cathedral Prep would knot the score, 14-14, midway through the second quarter after Luke Costello’s 32-yard touchdown pass to Corey Allan and a 9-yard touchdown run by Suhtaun Lewis.
That was when Shanafelt, one of the WPIAL’s top kickers, began to boot Cathedral Prep from the playoffs. Shanafelt kicked field goals of 29 and 30 yards in the final 1:53 of the first half to give Peters Township a 20-14 lead at the break. He then tacked on field goals of 26 yards in the third and 29 yards in the fourth to push his season total to eight. Shanafelt has accounted for a team-high 152 points this season.
Vinny Sarcone added some insurance for Peters Township via his 2-yard touchdown run with 8:06 left in the game. Sarcone finished with 53 yards on 14 carries.
Peters Township advances to play Cocalico (12-1) in next week’s semifinals. Cocalico defeated Ephrata, 23-9, Friday night in the District 5 championship.
Brad Everett contributed to this report.