Derrick Fulmore's successful 2-point conversion run in overtime earned West Mifflin a 36-35 victory Friday night against Central Valley at North Allegheny High School as the Titans advanced to the WPIAL Class AAA title game Friday at Heinz Field.
West Mifflin (11-1) originally decided to kick the extra point after the touchdown, but once Central Valley was called for encroachment before the kick, coach Ray Brazso called a timeout to think about it before calling a quarterback sneak.
"We got the penalty, so I thought we might as well go for it and it paid off," Brazso said.
Fulmore led all rushers with 156 yards on 19 carries and three touchdowns, and, while his overtime touchdown set up the win, a shoestring tackle by DiAngelo Mitchell on Central Valley's Robert Foster saved it.
With two seconds remaining and the score tied, 28-28, Central Valley (9-3) called a timeout. Warriors quarterback John George scrambled to his left, and, just as he was about to go down, pitched the ball back to Foster.
Foster nearly won the game when he changed direction, broke through the secondary and galloped toward the end zone. But just when it seemed like he was going to end the game, Mitchell tracked him down.
"We told them all week that if we were going to win we needed to outhustle them," Brazso said.
"[Mitchell] never gave up."
West Mifflin also reaped benefits from Jimmy Wheeler's 144 yards on 34 carries.
Foster ran 14 times for 148 yards and two touchdowns in a losing effort. He also ran a kickoff back for a touchdown.
West Mifflin set the tone instantly when Diallo Mitchell returned the opening kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown.
The teams traded touchdowns the rest of the first half until West Mifflin ran out of time at the end of the second quarter, leading to a 21-21 tie at halftime.
The wild first half featured a ton of offense, but the second half was all about tactics and defense.
And yet, the second half started much like the first, as Foster returned the opening kickoff 61 yards for a touchdown to give the Warriors a 28-21 lead.
West Mifflin tried to kick it too short to be returned, but Foster caught the ball and instantly made a would-be tackler miss before outrunning the rest of the Titans coverage team.
After that, points became hard to come by.
Central Valley made the first key defensive stop when Ryan Roberson intercepted Fulmore's second pass of the game at the Warriors 33. The Titans responded with a stop of their own, though, forcing Central Valley to punt.
After the punt, West Mifflin scored on a 1-yard run by Fulmore that capped a 15-play drive and tied the score, 28-28.
Despite getting the ball back at the 50, Central Valley turned it over when Foster fumbled a handoff, giving the Titans 6:56 to put up a go-ahead score.
It appeared as if Fulmore had made the play of the game when he scrambled for a 62-yard touchdown, but it was called back because of a penalty.
West Mifflin converted the third down on the next play to keep the drive going, but was then stuffed on fourth-and-3, missing the first down by inches.