Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/Steve Rotstein –

Last year’s WPIAL Class 5A championship game between Gateway and Peters Township was an instant classic.

Friday’s round two was even better.

After the Gators (5-1) took a 19-0 lead into halftime, the Indians stormed out of the break with 20 unanswered points to claim a 20-19 victory at Gateway’s Antimarino Stadium. Peters Township (8-0) exacted revenge for the Gators’ 21-20 win in last year’s title game and will now play for the Class 5A championship for the second year in a row.

After trailing for the game’s first 59 minutes and 55 seconds, senior tight end Corban Hondru secured the game-tying 4-yard touchdown from senior quarterback Logan Pfeuffer with 4.7 seconds remaining. Junior Andrew Massucci then delivered the game-winning extra point for the Indians only two days after scoring a pair of goals in the WPIAL semifinals to propel Peters Township’s soccer team to the WPIAL Class 4A championship game.

“It’s exhilarating,” Hondru said. “It’s the best feeling in the world.”

Indians senior Breylen Carrington caught nine passes for 138 yards in the win, while star senior Derrick Davis led the way for Gateway with 18 carries for 123 yards in defeat. Pfeuffer completed 13 of 23 attempts for 239 yards and three touchdowns after halftime to lead the miraculous comeback.

“Our defense played great the whole game,” said Peters Township coach T.J. Plack. “We didn’t change anything [offensively]. We called the same plays, except we just converted in the second half. Our kids made plays.”

The Gators defense appeared impenetrable in the first half, smothering Peters Township and holding the Indians to just 48 yards on 28 offensive plays. Gateway used a pair of field goals by senior Jayson Jenkins to take a 6-0 lead in the first quarter, then senior linebacker Diego Bledsoe intercepted a pass and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown after the ball slipped from Pfeuffer’s hand.

Another interception by the Gators late in the first half set up an 8-yard scoring strike from junior Carsen Engleka to senior Jayden Hurt with 15.7 seconds left in the first half, and Gateway took a 19-0 lead into the break.

In desperate need of a spark, Peters Township put together a flawless seven-play, 80-yard scoring drive to open the third quarter, capped off by a 2-yard touchdown pass from Pfeuffer to junior running back Nico Pate.

After a missed 42-yard field goal attempt by Jenkins, the Indians again traveled 80 yards for a touchdown — this time in only three plays. Carrington made a 42-yard grab down the right sideline, then senior wide receiver Donovan McMillon laid out for a highlight-reel, 38-yard touchdown grab.

“I don’t know if anyone knows, but during the regular season last year, I had a diving catch [attempt], and I missed it,” McMillon said. “And I knew that if I had that chance again, I was going to make that. It was surreal.”

Jenkins missed a 38-yard field goal that would have put the game away late in the fourth quarter, but Peters Township was flagged for running into the kicker, giving him another shot from 33 yards out. Jenkins’ kick sailed wide left again, though, leaving the Indians with one final drive to try to win the game.

With Peters Township driving down to the Gators’ 30-yard line, Chamor Price appeared to come away with a game-ending interception for Gateway as he returned it 79 yards for a score. But Carrington was knocked down on the play, drawing a penalty for pass interference. Carrington then made a 13-yard catch with 8.9 seconds left to set up Hondru’s game-winning score.

“He’s tremendous,” Plack said of Hondru. “He’s the best high school football player I’ve been around.”

The Indians will now face No. 1 Pine-Richland (8-0) in the WPIAL Class 5A championship game at 7 p.m. next Saturday at North Allegheny’s Newman Stadium.

“I’m speechless,” McMillon said. “It feels amazing. … We didn’t give up. At halftime, we knew — we put up 20 points last time we played them, and we knew we could come back and do that. And that’s what we did.”

Read the full article by Steve Rotstein at Post-Gazette online

Photo Credit: Peter Diana/Post-Gazette