Unlikely offensive star lifts Central Catholic over Penn-Trafford and into WPIAL Class AAAA final
Central Catholic defensive back Johnny Petrishen went into Friday’s WPIAL Class AAAA semifinal at Norwin with less than 100 yards rushing for the season.
That changed in a big way against No. 2-seeded Penn-Trafford. The senior rushed for 211 yards on 17 carries to carry No. 3-seeded Central Catholic to a 52-34 victory and a berth in the finals at 2 p.m. Friday against top-seeded Pine-Richland, which defeated McKeesport, 42-7.
“I don’t think I was supposed to be used this much,” Petrishen said. “I got a lot of carries and I guess they thought I hung in there well.”
When Central Catholic fell behind 20-14 in the second quarter, Vikings coach Terry Totten decided to put Petrishen at quarterback and run the wildcat.
Petrishen’s first carry resulted in a 43-yard gain.
“I guess they saw something they liked,” Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane said. “We just didn’t tackle him well enough.”
The Vikings scored three touchdowns in the final 5:20 of the first half to grab a 35-20 halftime lead.
Five Central Catholic players scored in the first half, and none was on defense or special teams. The Vikings scored only one offensive touchdown in a 28-0 win against Woodland Hills in the quarterfinals.
Central Catholic scored on its first two possessions on touchdown runs by Vinny Emanuele (4 yards) and Brian Totten (10 yards), and looked like it was going to duplicate the 49-10 rout of Penn-Trafford in the 2013 semifinals.
Penn-Trafford (11-1) didn’t back down. The Warriors scored on three of their next four possessions to grab a 20-14 lead.
Penn-Trafford didn’t leave anything in the playbook.
Running back Devin Austin hit Jonah Lisbon with a 39-yard pass to set up Brett Laffoon’s 27-yard scoring strike to Joe Peduzzi with 2:20 left in the first quarter.
After a successful onside kick, Lisbon hit Timmy Vecchio with a 50-yard touchdown pass 10 seconds later to tie the score. Penn-Trafford recovered a second onside kick but stalled at the Central Catholic 22.
“We emptied the playbook,” Ruane said.
Laffoon completed 15 of 22 passes for 217 yards, Austin rushed for 84 yards and completed two passes for touchdowns.
The next time Penn-Trafford got the ball, Laffoon hit Austin with a 53-yard pass to set up Austin’s 1-yard plunge.
Central Catholic then flexed its might. Petrishen ran 43 yards to the Penn-Trafford 27, and two plays later Damar Hamlin scored on a 24-yard sweep.
On the Vikings’ next possession, Gunnar Frerotto rolled right, then threw back to Petrishen for a 56-yard score. And after a poor Penn-Trafford punt, Hamlin caught a 29-yard pass from Mike Navarro.
“Penn-Trafford is a smart team,” Petrishen said. “We knew they’d try anything to beat us.”
Emanuele finished with 117 yards on 21 carries.
“It was all-around great win,” Petrishen said. “Credit goes to everybody.”