Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

First Title in Reach for Rams Dinucci Throws 4 Tds, Helps Clinch Berth in First Piaa Final since 2003 Pine-Richland 28, Wilson 17

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

First Title in Reach for Rams Dinucci Throws 4 Tds, Helps Clinch Berth in First Piaa Final since 2003 Pine-Richland 28, Wilson 17

Article excerpt

ALTOONA, Pa. -- On a gloomy day Saturday at Mansion Park Stadium, an equally gloomy Pine-Richland offense faced a fourth-quarter deficit for the first time this season and was about to kiss their season goodbye.

But when it was all said and done, the Rams had another type of kiss on their mind.

"Do you guys like kisses?," Pine-Richland coach Eric Kasperowicz yelled out to his players as they huddled after the game.

Pine-Richland is Hershey-bound after rallying from 10 points down in the fourth by scoring the final three touchdowns in a 28-17 win against Wilson in a PIAA Class AAAA semifinal. The Rams (15-0) advance to play defending champion St. Joseph's Prep (10-3) at 6 p.m. Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium.

Wilson (14-1), which is located in West Lawn, near Reading, had taken a 17-7 with 2:32 left in the third.

"Whenever they went up, 17-7, we're kind of sitting on the sidelines saying, 'This can't be it,' " Pine-Richland quarterback Ben DiNucci said.

That was when DiNucci and the usually potent Rams offense came alive. DiNucci led the Rams on three consecutive touchdown drives.

DiNucci's 8-yard touchdown pass to D'ondre Gastion with 9:38 left in the game brought the Rams within three.

DiNucci then found Anthony Battaglia with the go-ahead 30-yard touchdown pass with 2:24 remaining.

And after Pine-Richland's Zach LeMirande intercepted a pass with 1:53 left, DiNucci connected with Mike Merhaut for a 9-yard touchdown with 53 seconds to go.

DiNucci, the Gatorade Pennsylvania player of the year, finished 21 of 39 for 173 yards with four touchdowns and an interception. He fell 66 yards short of breaking the state single-season passing record, but said that making it to Hershey was first and foremost on the minds of he and his teammates.

"It's awesome," DiNucci said. "[The WPIAL championship at] Heinz Field was an awesome feeling, too. …

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