Woodland Hills ends USC’s championship dreams
For the second year in a row, Baldwin stadium proved a House of Horrors for the Upper St. Clair football team as Woodland Hills thwarted the Panthers’ designs for a championship season.
In the WPIAL Quad-A semifinal match between these Southeastern Conference foes, the Wolverines toppled the No. 1-seeded Panthers, 28-21. It was the first loss for USC, which had beaten Woodland Hills, 16-10, in the first game of the 2013 campaign. The Panthers finished the season with an 11-1 overall record.
As in last year’s 42-20 loss to Woodland Hills, miscues and turnovers contributed to the USC’s defeat and prevented the Panthers from making a 12th appearance in the WPIAL finals under Jim Render, who is the winningest head coach in Pennsylvania football history.
Woodland Hills, the No. 4 seed with a 10-2 record, will face Central Catholic, a 49-10 winner against Penn-Trafford, in the Quad-A final set for 2 p.m. Nov. 23 at Heinz Field.
Though the Panthers took the opening kick-off and scored, their woes began immediately after Morgan Lee’s 33-yard touchdown run. On its first offensive possession, Woodland Hills knotted the contest when Trevon Mathis gathered in an 80-yard scoring strike from Harry Randall. Randall completed only three of his 10 passes but for 118 yards.
After USC botched a punt attempt, Woodland Hills took advantage of the short field and Randall scored on a 4-yard run with 9:26 to play in the first half. Two minutes later, the Wolverines converted another fumble—this one on a snap exchange—into another score, a 1-yard plunge into the end zone by Miles Sanders. A 1,000-yard rusher, Sanders had not played since the end of the regular season due to an injury. He finished with 55 yards on 17 carries.
Mathis silenced the crowd and shocked the Panthers when he returned the second-half kick-off 96 yards.
Down, 28-7, USC, however, waged a valiant comeback. Joe Repischak and Ben Southhorn engineered the uprising.
After targeting Morgan Lee with a pass, Repischak and Southorn hooked up for a 29-yard score, narrowing the margin, 28-114. With 5:12 to go in the third quarter, Repischak capped another scoring drive that featured a reception by Giuseppe Orsini and the 1-2 rushing punch of Lee and Steve Mackowick.
After recovering a fumble, Southorn, who also had a interception in the game, hauled in a 42-yard pass from Repischak. The reception put the Panthers in position to tie the contest. After Mackowick moved the ball to the 2-yard line with his 8-yard rush, the Woodland Hills defense held the line. On a fourth down play, Daechaud Ausbrooks blitzed, putting the pressure on Repischak. Yet, the senior signal caller got a pass off with 2:35 to play. However, Mathis batted away the ball and USC’s chances to compete in the WPIAL championship.