NORTH HUNTINGTON, Pa. — Gateway won its seventh WPIAL title by holding off a late charge from Peters Township, 21-20 at Norwin High School on Saturday.
The Gators jumped out to an early 14-10 lead and appeared to be in good shape to roll when they extended the lead early in the second half. But the game turned when Gateway star running back Derrick Davis was injured early in that third quarter.
Davis was shaken up while making a 70-yard rush on the Gators’ first possession of the second half. That long rush led to a 1-yard scoring rush by backup Jay Johnson that gave Gateway a 21-10 lead.
Davis attempted to return to the game on defense, but was unable to continue.
With the Gators’ star out, the offense fell to the passing of Bryson Venanzio. It didn’t get out to a great start, with a Venanzio pass going off the hands of one of his receivers and falling to Peters Township safety Ryan Magiske.
Magiske then switched to offense and scored from 10 yards out to make it 21-17. An Andrew Massucci field goal tightened the gap to 21-20.
The Gators tried to lean on Johnson to run out the clock, but were stuffed, setting up a fourth and short at the Peters Township 39-yard line. Venanzio came through with a perfect pooch punt, downing Peters Township at its own 1-yard line.
The teams traded punts once again, setting up the Indians’ final attempt at coming from behind. Gateway’s Kelvon Nelson tackled quarterback Logan Pfeuffer short of the sticks on fourth down to preserve the victory.
Gateway will face Archbishop Wood in the PIAA Class-5A semifinal next weekend.