PITTSBURGH — The top two seeds in the WPIAL Class-4A met in the WPIAL championship game Saturday.
South Fayette and Thomas Jefferson felt like they had been on a crash course to meet at Heinz Field from the opening kickoff of the season. The two lived up to expectations to meet in the WPIAL final, and the matchup lived up to the hype, with South Fayette rallying from down 21-10 at the half to take a 31-24 victory and snap TJ’s streak of three consecutive titles.
Coming out of the break, a long kick off return led to a short touchdown and the Lions immediately got themselves back into the game, trailing 21-17.
Thomas Jefferson answered with a nice drive, but was held at the goal line and forced to kick a field goal. That is where South Fayette really turned up the heat.
On the next possession, the Lions connected on a few deep passes and Jamie Diven found Mike Trimbur in the end zone to tie the game at 24-24.
Holding Thomas Jefferson to a field goal and tying the game on the ensuing drive changed momentum. South Fayette forced a punt and quickly turned that into six. After trailing 21-7 late in the first half, the Lions entered quarter four with a 31-24 lead.
The lead and the momentum brought life to the defense. A group that was struggling to get off of the field early in the game forced a three and out, and then held firm on a fourth down pass attempt.
Still the defending champs had one more chance. Quarterback Shane Stump rolled out for a pass, but Trimbur jumped the receiver’s route and picked off Stump, ensuring the win.
In the first half, Thomas Jefferson had started the scoring with a suffocating, nine-minute drive that killed the entire first quarter and started the second with a walk in touchdown to go up 7-0.
It did not take long for South Fayette to rebound, though. Trimbur caught a Diven pass on the very next play and took it 82 yards to tie the game at 7.
South Fayette forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, but a missed field goal gave the Jaguars life back.
The Jaguars took that chance and pounced. They scored quickly using a 50-yard Dan Deabner haul to set up a touchdown to go up, 14-7. They were not done though, as they forced a South Fayette punt and turned that into a touchdown to take a 21-7 lead.
South Fayette used a much-needed drive before the half to cut the lead to 11, trailing 21-10 at the break.
South Fayette did not let the game slip away from them when they got down early. They fought back hard in the second half and used big plays on offense and defense to secure the win. In a back and forth slugfest, South Fayette proved to have just enough to win the class 4A WPIAL championship.