Sto-Rox: Williams' strong 2nd half helps Vikings deny Clairton a shot at sixth WPIAL title in a row



First, the winning streak ended. Now, Clairton's title defense is finished, too.

Sto-Rox quarterback Lenny Williams scored three touchdowns -- two running and the other on an interception return -- to lead the No. 1 Vikings to a 24-19 victory against five-time WPIAL champion Clairton in the Class A semifinals Friday at Chartiers-Houston.

Clairton had won 22 consecutive WPIAL playoff games. Its nation-best winning streak -- tied for 10th longest in U.S. high school football history -- was snapped at 66 earlier in the season.

Sto-Rox 24, Clairton 19

Sto-Rox meets Clairton in the WPIAL Class A semi final football game at Chartiers-Houston High School. (Video by John Heller; 11/15/2013)

Sto-Rox will face Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic for the Class A title next Saturday at Heinz Field, where the Vikings had been blown out by Clairton each of the past two seasons.

"This ain't the championship game, but, after two years of basically getting humiliated by them," Williams said, "to come out here and knock them off ... it's revenge, but it's happy, too. I mean, I can get some weight off my shoulders. The past two years we fell to this team, and this year we finally got it."

Williams, the WPIAL's all-time leading passer, scored the winning touchdown on a 22-yard run with 1:52 to play.

He finished with two touchdowns and 129 yards rushing, adding 114 yards passing on a 10-for-19 night.

But his first half was one to forget.

Williams had three turnovers in the first half -- two fumbles and an interception -- that helped give Clairton a 13-6 lead at intermission.

Sto-Rox coach Dan Bradley credited Williams with stepping up and taking responsibility.

"I'm the type of person who, when I make a mistake, keep making mistakes, I take it hard," Williams said.

"I told them, 'That first half, that's me. All the mistakes, don't worry about it. Don't none of you hang your heads. That's all on me,' because I can take that."

Williams and Sto-Rox responded by outscoring Clairton, 18-6, in the second half.

Brendan Blair scored on a 5-yard run early in the half, and Williams, who plays safety on defense, returned an interception 42 yards for a score in the fourth quarter.

"We fixed some protection a bit, but his reads were fine," Bradley said of Williams' halftime adjustments. "He just threw one bad ball."

Clairton, seeded fourth and playing as an underdog for the first time in years, got the ball with 1:42 left, but couldn't score.

Quarterback Ryan Williams completed 12 of his 21 pass attempts for 71 yards and a touchdown, He also threw two interceptions.

Harrison Dreher ran seven times for 65 yards and a touchdown.

Aaron Mathews ran eight times for 24 yards but also fumbled. Clairton took 16 penalties.

Clairton coach Tom Nola wouldn't say after the game if he will return for another season.

The Bears took the lead in the second quarter when Williams overthrew a comeback route, and Clairton's Vance Allen stepped in for an interception and took it 32 yards to the end zone.

The Bears other touchdowns came on a 12-yard pass from Ryan Williams to Aaron Mathews and Dreher's 53-yard run.

Clairton finished the season 10-2.


Nick Veronica: nveronica@post-gazette.com and Twitter @NickVeronica.

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