Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Washington's Game of 'Keep Away' Ruined South Fayette's Title Hopes

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Washington's Game of 'Keep Away' Ruined South Fayette's Title Hopes

Article excerpt

When South Fayette football coach Joe Rossi looked back at Friday's WPIAL Class AA semifinal game against Washington, the obvious was the difference.

"[Washington] had the perfect formula to beat us: Keep the ball away from our offense," said Rossi, after Shae McKenzie and the Little Prexies ran all over the Lions. "They ran 82 offensive plays and we ran only 41.

"They just kept grinding it out with 3- or 4-yard runs, then popped one for 10 or more. We just couldn't get our offense on the field. And when we did, we never could get into a rhythm. It was so frustrating."

Washington's running game ground out 458 yards, including 293 by McKenzie, who accounted for all four Little Prexies touchdowns.

"[McKenzie] is a phenomenal athlete," said Rossi. "He's one of the best around."

On those rare occasions when South Fayette did have the ball ...

"We didn't have the ball much, but we did have opportunities," Rossi said. "We stormed back to tie the game at 14-14 at halftime and had a chance to take the lead in the third quarter when we were trailing, 20-14. We had second and goal on the 5 and couldn't score."

The loss left South Fayette one win away from a second trip in three years to Heinz Field for the WPIAL finals. It also ended the Lions perfect season, as they finish with an 11-1 record.

"It's disappointing to get this far and have it end this way, but we have a lot to be proud of," Rossi said. "Our senior class leaves here with a 43-7 record over the past four years. And we won three of four conference titles. That's pretty impressive."

The Lions will bid goodbye to 12 seniors.

"We have eight of 11 coming back on offense," Rossi said. "We lose [wide receivers] Zach Challingsworth and Mike Fetchet, and guard Jake Carey."

Challingsworth is obviously the biggest loss. He is one of six receivers in the WPIAL who accumulated 1,000 or more yards. …

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