PINE TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Last year Penn Trafford and Pine-Richland met in the WPIAL Class-5A semifinals, and it was Penn-Trafford who sent the Rams home with a loss, en route to their WPIAL Championship. However, last year the Warriors were the No. 2 seed, and Pine-Richland was the No. 3 seed. This year, PR moved up to the No. 2 seed, while P-T was down at No. 7 as they met a round earlier, in the quarterfinals. The higher seed won out in the second straight year as Pine-Richland (8-3) knocked off Penn Trafford (6-5), 31-17 on Friday night.
The game started with Pine-Richland coming out wanting to establish the run. They ran the ball 10 of their first 11 plays, whether by quarterback keep, or hand-off. Ethan Pillar had a big run to put the team in the red zone, and quarterback Ryan Palmieri capped it off with a 10-yard touchdown run.
Penn-Trafford realized quickly that they needed to answer. They got a 61-yard run from Owen Demari to put them in prime field position, but a sack from Andrew Cerminara helped keep the Warriors to a field goal.
Pine-Richland opened things up in the passing game to start their next drive and moved the ball with completions to Andrew Mellis, and Alex Cerminara. This led to Ryan Palmieri scoring his second touchdown of the game, this time a rush from 14 yards out.
Pine-Richland got the football to start the second half and did not take long to extend their lead. On the first play of the half, Ryan Palmieri ran right, juked, exploded, broke two tackles, and scored a 71-yard touchdown that helped break the game open, and give the Rams a 21-3 lead.
Penn Trafford went on a nice response drive and got to the PR 10-yard line. However, Tanner Cunningham had an excellent pass breakup on fourth down that ended the drive with no points. The Rams got another fourth down stop, and that is when Palmieri, Pillar, and Luke Rudolph took the game into their hands.
They drove down the field, killing clock along the way. The drive only ended in a field goal, but the Rams led 24-3 with just four minutes to go. That was enough to put the game away.
PT scored late, and recovered an onside kick and even scored again, which made the game tight, but it was too little too late.
Pine-Richland recovered the onside kick and Palmieri housed his fourth touchdown, as PT sold out to get a turnover.
Pine-Richland will go on to play Woodland Hills next week in the WPIAL Semifinals. The location is to be determined.