A Backyard Brawl often comes from two teams that lie in close proximity to one another and games that mean all that much more. With just four miles separating Woodland Hills and Penn Hills, Friday night’s contest was the best kind of backyard brawl.
In a contest coming down to the last seconds of the game, Penn Hills managed to escape at home against Woodland Hills, 14-13, after holding the Wolverines on a potential game-winning drive that stalled out as time expired on the scoreboard.
With huge postseason implications already in the young season for both teams, Friday’s game basically served as a must-win game. Entering the contest without a win, Penn Hills secured an all-important first victory to stay alive in the playoff hunt, and Woodland Hills dropped a game that will sting for a while.
The Indians and Wolverines played in front of an empty Yuhas-McGinley Stadium Friday night, fans and non-essential personnel barred from attendance in wake of a deadly shooting at a North Versailles haunted hayride last Saturday.
Despite the absence of fans, the tension at Penn Hills was high — especially as the game tightened up in the second half.
Trailing 14-7 in the fourth quarter, the Wolverines relied upon a couple of big runs from sophomore running back Brandon Jones. Jones took a carry from deep in his territory to midfield and two plays later, he took another carry up the middle into the red zone.
After going 0-for-4 in the red zone a week prior against Moon, the Wolverines relied upon star senior Swiss Army knife Deontae Williams to break the streak. Williams hauled a one-yard carry into the end zone, but an extra point off the upright maintained a one point lead for Penn Hills late in the fourth quarter.
A big kick return on the ensuing kickoff from Penn Hills set up the Indians at the Wolverines’ 27-yard line, a huge momentum swing for the Indians that was unable to be capitalized upon. The Indians managed to push the ball inside the five-yard line, but a defensive stand gave the ball back to Woodland Hills with the chance to win.
The Wolverines managed to drive the ball past midfield, but with a chance to convert on a last second Hail Mary or broken play, but the Indians managed to slam the door shut and clinch the first win of the season.
Woodland Hills senior running back Eris Seibles opened the game’s scoring, dashing for a long touchdown to give the Wolverines an early lead in a pivotal early-season matchup.
However, it didn’t take long for Penn Hills to answer, a brotherly connection tying the contest as sophomore quarterback Julian Dugger connected with senior wide receiver Jaden Dugger to answer on the next drive.
Another first half touchdown for Penn Hills gave the Indians a 14-7 lead. But more importantly, it opened up the offense for Penn Hills. With a game-high of 13 points through the first two games, the two scores already set a season-high before halftime.
The hot start offensively cooled off as both teams settled into the contest, trading defensive stands throughout the third quarter to maintain a 14-7 halftime entering th fourth quarter. Ultimately, the Indians did enough to ensure a crucial victory at home to stay alive in the WPIAL Class 5-A play.
Coming off the first win of the season, Penn Hills improves to 1-2 on the season while Woodland Hills drops to 1-3 with the tough loss. Both will be in action next week in non-conference matchups.
Woodland Hills will play North Hills at home while Penn Hills will take on Upper St. Clair on the road. Both games are currently scheduled for 7:00 p.m.