South Fayette wins 30th in a row, moves closer to title defense
South Fayette’s Brett Brumbaugh didn’t get the state’s career passing record Friday night.
But he will get another chance next weekend as the Lions posted a 42-15 victory over Karns City in a PIAA Class AA quarterfinal at Clarion University’s Memorial Stadium.
Brumbaugh completed 11 passes in 24 attempts for 199 yards, leaving him 104 yards short of the record of 10,948 set by Port Allegany’s Matt Bodamer in 2012.
The victory gave South Fayette (13-0) a berth in the semifinals next weekend against the winner of Saturday afternoon’s game between Hickory and Tyrone.
It was also South Fayette’s 30th consecutive victory, the state’s longest current streak.
“I’m just proud of these guys,” Lions coach Joe Rossi said. “You win 30 games in a row, that’s pretty special. None of them talk about it, the focus is always on the next game.”
District 9 champion Karns City finished the season at 11-2.
The big night belonged to South Fayette junior running back Hunter Hayes, who carried 23 times for 183 yards and four touchdowns.
Just for good measure, Hayes added a pass interception to begin the fourth quarter.
While Karns City concentrated on Brumbaugh — including two first-quarter sacks — the strategy suited Hayes just fine.
“I love when they cover Brett and drop back into coverage,” Hayes said. “When they do that, I know I’ll be able to run on them.”
The initial Lions TD was set up on a fumble recovery by Jason Massey-Sears.
With South Fayette leading, 16-0, and 21 seconds to go in the half, the Gremlins punted to Nick Ponikvar.
The junior return specialist grabbed the punt at the 23 and raced down the sideline for 77 yards for a TD.
“That was huge, huge right before the half,” Rossi said. “We actually went for the punt block, so it wasn’t even a return, he made a great individual effort.”
“Our one guy was flying down there and stopped, thinking their guy went down,” Gremlins coach Ed Conto said. “It was one of those bad breaks, then we had three guys miss tackles.”
Logan Sharp’s fumble recovery on the first Karns City play from scrimmage to start the second half threw the door open for a 42-yard scoring drive, with Hayes bursting through from the 1.
After an 11-yard Gremlins punt, Sharp made a great catch just over the goal line while surrounded by a Karns City defender.
That gave South Fayette a 36-0 lead and put the PIAA’s continuous clock rule into effect.
For Karns City, it marked the third straight year the Gremlins lost to a WPIAL team in the state quarterfinals.
“You’ve got to put a complete game together and get a little luck,” Conto said. “But we’ve got some great sophomores and might get there.”
Collin Dunmyre led the Gremlins with 118 rushing yards, including a 53-yard TD run.
The junior finished the season with 991 yards.
George Guido is a freelance writer.