Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Franklin Regional's Playoff Run Comes to a Halt Panthers' Successful Performance for the Season Exceeded Expectations

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Franklin Regional's Playoff Run Comes to a Halt Panthers' Successful Performance for the Season Exceeded Expectations

Article excerpt

The Franklin Regional football team exceeded expectations all season, so it shouldn't have been a surprise that the Panthers battled top-seeded and unbeaten West Allegheny (12-0) to the final whistle Friday night in a WPIAL Class AAA semifinal at North Allegheny's Newman Stadium.

The Panthers, who had to replace 19 of 22 starters from last season's WPIAL quarterfinalist, took an early lead before falling to the Indians, 21-12.

"I can't talk enough about this team. They exceeded my expectations by a lot," Franklin Regional coach Greg Botta said. "They themselves knew they could win ... thought they could win. They never took the field thinking they couldn't.

"A lot of people didn't give us a chance in this football game, but our kids believed they could win. Our first drive was an indication of that."

After West Allegheny missed a field goal on its opening possession, Franklin Regional drove 80 yards in 13 plays, the last of which was an 11-yard touchdown pass from Charan Singh to Casey Colagrande, to give the Panthers a 6-0 lead.

It's one of the few times the Indians have been down this season. West Allegheny has outscored its opponents, 468-120, this season, and beat nine of its first 11 opponents by at least 20 points.

"Haven't been in that position a lot," West Allegheny coach Bob Palko said.

But the Indians scored two second-quarter touchdowns, the last coming with eight seconds left in the half, to take a 14-6 lead into the break.

Botta admitted the final first-half score was a tough pill for his team to swallow, but like the Panthers have done all season, they showed their resiliency.

Starting at their own 5-yard line on their second possession of the third quarter, the Panthers drove the length of the field, with Singh eventually hitting Colin Jonov on a 51-yard touchdown pass to get Franklin Regional within two at 14-12. …

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