NORTH HUNTINGDON, Pa. — The Pine-Richland Rams and the Upper Saint Clair Panthers met at Knights Stadium to compete for the Class-5A WPIAL Championship on Saturday afternoon. This matchup was one to be expected as it features two of the WPIAL’s most dominant programs. Pine-Richland is a dominant team that is the home of five WPIAL titles that span four different classifications. Upper Saint Clair is the home to seven WPIAL titles with the last coming in 2006. Pine-Richland would dominate this championship bout 34-3.
Pine-Richland entered the day with five WPIAL titles that span four different classifications while Upper Saint Clair houses seven WPIAL titles. Pine-Richland last won a WPIAL championship in 2020, while Upper Saint Clair’s last one was in 2006.
The Rams began the scoring on their first drive of the game with a Ryan Palmeri 4-yard touchdown run. This was possible after the Rams converted a fake punt near midfield earlier in the drive.
The Panthers’ first two drives did not go as planned as they converted one first down and punted twice. On their third drive of the game, they were able to add a 33-yard field goal by Bennett Henderson making the score 7-3. Senior Aiden Besselman aided this drive with two catches of 29-yards and 21-yards.
The Rams answered this with another touchdown of their own after Palmeri dumped a screen pass off to Vasilios Balouris for a 20-yard touchdown. The Rams would have a mishap on the extra point attempt and settled for six points, making the score 13-3 heading into halftime.
The third quarter went similarly to the first half where both teams had multiple possessions which results in short drives ending in punts. That was until a defensive facemask penalty helped the Rams extend their lead to 20-3 on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Pine-Richland iced the game after another short touchdown by Ryan Palmieri with just over 6 minutes left in the game that made the score 27-3.
The Rams advance to the PIAA State playoffs after winning their sixth WPIAL title in school history.