Penn-Trafford needed a last-minute touchdown to get past Penn Hills in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs. No such heroics, however, were needed Friday night as the Warriors upset third-seeded and undefeated McKeesport, 35-20.
Tom Stinelli ran 23 times for 161 yards, and Devin Austin added 134 yards on 17 carries to lift the Warriors to the semifinals for the first time since 1997. They lost the championship that year to Upper St. Clair, 28-27.
Austin had touchdown runs of 55 and 3 yards, and Stinelli scored from 16.
Tim Vecchio, who caught the winning touchdown last week, gave Penn-Trafford its first lead in the third quarter last night, hauling in a 44-yard pass from Brett Laffoon.
McKeesport would answer with an Allen Wright touchdown, but the extra-point attempt missed, leaving Penn-Trafford ahead, 21-20.
Laffoon ran in from one yard out later in the third quarter to make it 28-20, and Stinelli's touchdown gave the Warriors insurance in the fourth quarter.
Previously, McKeesport's closest game had been a 33-20 win in the second week of the season. The Tigers won their regular-season meeting with Penn-Trafford, 34-14.
• Central Catholic 27, Gateway 21
Gateway managed three touchdowns against a Central Catholic defense that hadn't allowed more than 14 points all season, but it wasn't enough to counter a three-touchdown, 193-yard game from Vikings' running back Luigi Lista-Brinza.
Lista-Brinza and quarterback J.J. Cosentino scored on one-yard runs in the first quarter to put Central Catholic ahead, 14-0. A Montae Nicholson touchdown and a fumble return on the second-half kickoff tied the game for Gateway, but two more scores from Lista-Brinza in the third quarter gave the Vikings the breathing room they needed as well as a berth in the semifinals against Penn-Trafford next week.