Farrell takes down OLSH in PIAA Class A semifinals
SLIPPERY ROCK — Farrell coach Jarrett Samuels had lost all six PIAA playoff games to WPIAL teams in the past 12 seasons.
But Friday was a different story as the Steelers used a punishing ground attack and a defense that recorded six quarterback sacks to secure a berth in the state Class A finals with a convincing, 41-10 victory over Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.
Christian Lewis went over 4,000 career rushing yards with 208 yards and three touchdowns as the Steelers accumulated 351 net rushing yards at Slippery Rock University’s Mihalik-Thompson Stadium.
Farrell (14-0) will face Lackawanna Trail in the PIAA title game at 1 p.m. Thursday at Hersheypark Stadium. The Steelers won PIAA championships in 1995 and ’96 while still WPIAL members.
“This game was pressure, I had King Kong on my back,” Samuels said. “We can have fun now. It’s the whole WPIAL thing. In my coaching career, I hadn’t been down by a district. I told my players the WPIAL schools have a swagger about themselves, and we’ve got to come in here and take it off them.”
OLSH finished its storybook season at 13-2. The Chargers, only in their ninth year of football, won a WPIAL title for the first time in school history but were stopped Friday night.
Quarterback Tyler Bradley finished his outstanding career with 108 passing yards to give the senior 8,436 for his career — fourth in WPIAL history. Bradley was sacked six times and often had to run away from pursuing Steelers defenders.
Farrell outweighed the OLSH interior linemen by an average of nearly 100 pounds, and the Steelers dominated as the night wore on.
“Whenever they decided to go two tight ends and bring in an extra lineman, we just didn’t have an answer for that,” Chargers coach Dan Bradley said. “They are a big, physical team.”
Farrell often lined up offensive linemen Kobe Hilton (6-foot-4, 283 pounds ) and Melvin Hobson (6-3, 295) in the backfield and plowed routes for the running backs.
Samuels said it was a formation used on extra points but not in regular play until Friday.
“We put it in last January and worked on it three times a week, and we finally pulled it out,” said Samuels, who played in the 1988 WPIAL title game for Farrell.
OLSH had taken a 3-0 led on a 23-yard field goal by Ryan Gehring with 7 minutes, 30 seconds left in the first quarter.
But the Steelers scored four of the next five times they had the ball to take command of the game.
OLSH, down 28-3 at the half, went to a running game with freshman Jaymar Pearson in the third quarter.
Pearson collected 66 rushing yards in the third quarter and fumbled the ball at the Farrell 3. The ball hit a Farrell player’s helmet and caromed to Andrew Schnarre, who scored to make it 28-10.
But Lewis’ touchdown runs of 69 and 56 yards put the game away.
“We weren’t running the ball well in the first half, so we decided to change it up, and we ran it better in the second half,” coach Bradley said.
The Chargers were averaging 41 points per game but really couldn’t get their offense in gear.
Tyler Bradley finished the season with 3,352 passing yards.
Farrell’s senior class has won 49 games over four seasons.
George Guido is a freelance writer.