South Fayette bound for Heinz Field after beating Seton-La Salle
South Fayette’s Brett Brumbaugh will have a chance to write to the perfect ending to his storybook WPIAL career.
But he had a little help from his friends.
The senior quarterback threw for 217 yards and two touchdowns as top-seeded South Fayette (12-0) defeated rival Seton-La Salle, 35-21, in a Class AA semifinal Friday night at Peters Township.
Brumbaugh and South Fayette will meet No. 2 Aliquippa in a rematch of last season’s WPIAL title game, which the Lions won 34-28. South Fayette has a chance to win its third WPIAL championship since 2010.
“Getting to Heinz Field is great, but when you have an opportunity to beat your rival, it’s phenomenal,” South Fayette coach Joe Rossi said.
Brumbaugh was key in the win, but it was timely defense that propelled the WPIAL’s all-time leading passer and the Lions to Heinz Field.
Seton-La Salle’s Ricky Mellick scored on a 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that cut South Fayette’s lead to 28-13.
The Rebels recovered the ensuing onside kick and threatened to make it a one-score game, but Logan Sharp came up with a Seton-La Salle fumble to thwart the comeback.
Senior Jack Relihan returned a Seton-La Salle interception 40 yards late in the second quarter to give the Lions a 28-7 halftime lead.
“The defense is awesome,” Brumbaugh said. “They don’t get the credit they deserve. They’re the staple of this team”
South Fayette’s ground game also made a solid contribution. Hunter Hayes rushed for 127 yards, including first-half touchdown runs of 12 and 15 yards.
Brumbaugh passed Sto-Rox’s Lenny Williams’ as the WPIAL’s all-time leading passer on Oct. 3 and has passed for more than 10,000 yards in his career — the first WPIAL player to eclipse the 10,000-yard mark.
Brumbaugh still has a chance to claim the PIAA records for passing yards (10,948) and touchdowns (137), both set by Port Allegany’s Matt Bodamer in 2012.
The PIAA single-season record of 3,951, also set by Bodamer, also is within reach.
It was South Fayette’s fifth straight win over Seton-La Salle.
The conference rivals have met seven times since 2011, including three playoff matchups.
“I haven’t lost to them since freshman year,” Brumbaugh said.
Seton-La Salle has not advanced to the WPIAL finals since 2004, when the Rebels last won a district title.
Danzel McKinley-Lewis, who was suspended for the Rebels’ first meeting with South Fayette, made an impact.
The Toledo recruit caught a 39-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Perone as the Rebels cut South Fayette’s lead to 14-7 in the second quarter.
McKinley-Lewis also had a 30-yard interception return.
Ray Judy is a freelance writer.