CLARION, Pa. – Three big Westinghouse plays in a span of 3:24 with halftime inbetween helped Westinghouse advance to the PIAA Class 2A quarterfinals with a 46-30 win over Central Clarion on a rainy night at PennWest Clarion’s Memorial Stadium.
The District 8 champion Bulldogs, who finished second in the PIAA in 2A a year ago, trailed the D9 champion Wildcats, who they had beaten 44-8 in the same round a year ago, 8-7 late in the first half.
But a lucky bounce on the final play of the half gave Westinghouse a 15-8 halftime lead, and the Bulldogs scored 23 seconds into the second half and then 2:01 later to take a 28-8 lead.
While the Wildcats kept fighting back, Central Clarion was never able to get the deficit under 11 points for the remainder of the game.
Back to the plays that mattered.
Westinghouse, which had squandered fantastic field position for most of the opening half, caught a massive break when a lost fumble at the Central Clarion 30-yard line with under a minute to play was nullified by a 15-yard penalty on the Wildcats.
And, yet, that wasn’t the luckiest of breaks for the Bulldogs on the go-ahead drive.
That would have been on the final play of the drive with Westinghouse facing a clock-running-out situation from the Central Clarion 1-inch line after a pass to Taymir O’Neal was ruled to be down at the 1-inch line and not in the end zone.
Quarterback Khalil Green tried a QB sneak but the snap never got to him and rolled into the end zone where Westinghouse lineman Sincere Shannon fell on it for a touchdown that coupled with a 2-point conversion run put the Bulldogs up seven at the break.
Westinghouse got the ball out of halftime, and it took two plays for the Bulldogs to be ahead by two scores when Ayron Price got loose for a 56-yard scoring run right up the middle to make it 22-8.
Things went from bad to worse for Central Clarion two minutes later.
After a fake punt helped set up the Wildcats at the Westinghouse 40-yard line, Tommy Smith dropped a pass that might have gone for a touchdown. On the next play, Jase Ferguson’s pass was tipped at the line into the waiting arms of Lloyd Penn, who went 61 yards the other way for a pick-6 and a 28-8 advantage.
The teams trailed touchdowns after that with Ferguson hitting Smith with a 12-yard score to make it 28-15, but Ty Abrams scoring one of his three touchdowns on a 32-yard run to make it 34-14 with 1:19 left in the third quarter. The big play of that drive was a 16-yard run by Abrams on a third-and-12 from his own 18-yard line.
Central Clarion got as close as it would get with 23 seconds left in the third when Ferguson found Smith wide open for a 64-yard scoring strike that coupled with a Ferguson two-point run made it 34-23.
Any momentum the Wildcats might have gained on the big TD catch was erased three plays later when Green kept it himself on a third-and-1 call and went 71 yards to the house to make it 40-23.
Two plays later, Penn had his second interception, and a 32-yard pass from Green to Lloyd on fourth-and-13 from the 34-yard line set up a 1-yard TD run by Abrams that put the game on ice with eight minutes left.
Central Clarion did have one last gasp of hope when Ferguson connected with Mason Burford on a screen pass on a fourth-down play with just under six minutes left that went 36 yards to draw the Wildcats within 16, 46-30, but Ferguson’s third interception of the second half, this time by Shannon, ended that hope.
The Wildcats were lucky to be in the game at halftime considering the field position they granted Westinghouse early in the game.
Burford fumbled the opening kickoff giving Westinghouse the ball at the Wildcat 33 right out of the gate, but a Bulldog TD was called back on a holding call, one of 11 first-half penalties for 93 yards against the D8 squad.
But Central Clarion kept gifting field position.
On its first possession, Ferguson tried a fake punt on fourth-and-10 from his own 20 and was stopped two yards shot.
But again, Westinghouse shot itself in the foot with a holding call followed by an unsportsmanlike penalty that actually forced the Bulldogs to punt.
Central Clarion went three-and-out, and while it punt the Wildcats probably should have just gone for it considering Ferguson’s punt went five yards giving Westinghouse the ball at the Central Clarion 31-yard line.
This time, the Bulldogs capitalized thanks to a 37-yard pass – yes another penalty had backed Westinghouse up – from Green to Penn to the 3-yard line followed by a 1-yard touchdown run by Abrams to make it 7-0 with 1:38 left in the first quarter.
Central Clarion finally found some offensive momentum midway through the second quarter going on a 6-play, 64-yard drive that was aided by two minor Westinghouse penalties.
The Wildcats got within a point on a 3-yard Ferguson touchdown run, and when Westinghouse jumped offside on the extra point Central Clarion sent its offense out to go for the lead and got it, 8-7, on another Ferguson run.
Central Clarion had a chance to add to the lead when its defense forced a three-and-out giving the offense the ball back att he Westinhouse 46-yard line.
But a false start on second-and-6 from the 43 set the Wildcats back, and Ferguson was stuffed for no gain on fourth-and-3 from the 39.
Taking over with 3:45 to go in the half, Westinghouse got a break on a face mask on Central Clarion in the first play of the drive setting the Bulldogs up in Wildcat territory at the 44.
But the Bulldogs didn’t seem to be in any hurry, even after they converted a fourth-and-3 from the 37 on a 6-yard run by Green.
Two more plays netted 13 yards to the Central Clarion 189, but a negative rush play followed by a hold on Westinghouse pushed the ball back to the 29.
That’s when things went bad for the Wildcats.
Abrams fumbled on the next play with Central Clarion seemingly recovering at the 30-yard line, but the Wildcats were called for some sort of illegal block by the defense giving Westinghouse new life.
Two quick passes to O’Neal, the second of which O’Neal appeared to have across the goal line but didn’t get the call, had Westinghouse at the 1-inch line with three seconds left setting up the fumble touchdown.
Both Green (11 carries, 127 yards) and Abrams (29 carries, 113 yards) were over 100 yards on the ground for Westinghouse, who would have run for 300 yards if not for two late kneel downs pushing the total to 296.
Green was also 4 of 12 passing for 83 yards with an interception.
Ferguson was the balk of the Central Clarion offense going 16 of 28 passing for 229 yards and three touchdowns while rushing 20 times for 94 yards and a score. But the junior, who had thrown just four interceptions all season, was picked off three times.
Smith was the leading receiver for the Wildcats, who played without top wide receiver Dawson Smail due to an injury. The senior caught four passes for 103 yards and two scores, while Burford added three catches for 64 yards and a touchdown.
Westinghouse (11-0) awaits the winner of Saturday’s District 10 championship game between Farrell and Mercyhurst Prep in the PIAA quarterfinals next weekend.
Central Clarion finished the season 11-1.
WESTINGHOIUSE 46, CENTRAL CLARION 30
Score by Quarters
Westinghouse 7 8 19 12 – 46
Central Clarion 0 8 15 7 – 30
W – Ty Abrams 1 run (Jordan Reid kick), 1:38
CC – Jase Ferguson 3 run (Ferguson run), 6:35
W – Sincere Shannon offensive fumble recovery in end zone (Khalil Green run), 0:00
W – Ayron Pride 56 run (Reid kick), 11:37
W – Lloyd Penn 61 interception return (Kick failed), 8:36
CC – Tommy Smith 12 pass from Ferguson (Thomas Uckert kick), 5:28
W – Abrams 32 run (Kick failed), 1:19
CC – Smith 64 pass from Ferguson (Ferguson run), 0:23
W – Green 71 run (Kick failed), 11:18
W – Abrams 1 run (Kick failed), 8:00
CC – Mason Burford 36 pass from Ferguson (Uckert kick), 5:56
Westinghouse – Stat – Central Clarion
13 – First Downs – 12
52-296 – Rushing-Yards 29-121
83 – Passing Yards – 229
4-12-1 – Comp-Att-Int – 10-28-3
64-379 – Plays-Yards – 57-350
3-0 – Fumbles-Lost – 3-1
12-98 – Penalties-Yards – 7-60
Rushing – Westinghouse: Abrams 29-113, Pride 9-58, Green 11-127, Diop Jones 1-2, Team 2-negative 4. Central Clarion: Ferguson 20-94, Brady Quinn 2-8, Noah Harrison 3-3, Ethan Rex 4-16
Passing – Westinghouse: Green 4-for-12, 83 yards, 1 interception. Central Clarion: Ferguson 10-for-28, 229 yards, 3 touchdowns, 3 interceptions
Receiving – Westinghouse: Lloyd Penn 2-69, Taymir O’Neal 2-14. Central Clarion: Smith 4-103, Quinn 2-11, Burford 3-64, Jesse Siwiecki 1-51.
Interceptions – Westinghouse 3 (Penn 2, Shannon). Central Clarion 1 (Ferguson).