Friday December 3, 2021 | 22:36
WINGATE – Ahead of Friday’s PIAA Class 5A semi-final, Exeter Township soccer players took to the pitch during the pre-match warm-up screaming and yelling.
At the other end, Penn-Trafford was quietly preparing.
“We certainly had a commercial type behavior before the game,” said Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane. “These are our children. They were focused on the task at hand. They knew it was a big night and they had to mind their own business.
And that’s exactly what they did.
After winning their first WPIAL title a week ago, Penn-Trafford dismantled District 3 champion Exeter Township, winning all three phases of the game and building on their new history.
A 24-point second quarter helped the Warriors go 49-14 at Bald Eagle Area’s Alumni Field and sent them to the PIAA Class 5A Championship game on December 10 at Hersheypark Stadium. PT (12-2) will face Imhotep Charter, who beat Strath Haven, 36-0.
Exceptional running back Cade Yacamelli rushed for three touchdowns. He scored a fourth on a pass and rushed for 142 yards. He had touchdowns of 3, 75 and 4 yards.
The defense of Penn-Trafford made the Township of Exeter one-dimensional. The Eagles (10-4) entered the game averaging 273.5 yards per game in the District 3 playoffs. Running back Eric Nangle had gained 919 yards. The Warriors kept the Eagles 66 yards on the ground and Nangle finished with 51.
Penn-Trafford passed Exeter, 260-66.
The Warriors have also intercepted Exeter quarterback Colin Payne four times – each once by Yacamelli, Jacob Otto, Seth Dunlap and Liam Hileman.
Special teams completed the domination. Nathan Schlessinger kicked two baskets (38 and 34 yards) and had four touchdowns, and Dunlap ran for 65 yards on a false punt.
Penn-Trafford took a 3-0 lead on its first possession from a 38-yard field goal from Schlessinger. The score was established by a 73-yard kickoff return by Otto.
Exeter, after stopping the Warriors in the fourth and 1 at Penn-Trafford 45, took a 7-3 lead when quarterback Colin Payne connected on a 24-yard touchdown pass at Penn State as Joey Schlaffer.
The score was set by a 19-yard run by Nangle. It was only when Nangle broke away against the Penn-Trafford defense in the first half. He was limited to 24 yards on eight half carries.
Then the Warriors took over, scoring 24 points in the second quarter to take a 27-7 lead at halftime.
A 25-yard run by Yacamelli and Otto’s fourth down for a first down resulted in a touchdown pass from Carter Green to Conlan Greene of Exeter 5 for a 10-7 lead.
“They got off to a quick start with the touchdown pass, and I think we reacted a lot with the next drive,” said Ruane. “Jacob made a huge take on the reader.”
The Warriors’ defense set the next scoreline as Hileman returned a 27-yard interception at Exeter 22. Yacamelli scored four games later from Exeter 3 to extend the lead to 17-7.
“It was probably the game of the match,” Exeter coach Matt Bauer said. “We thought the road was open and the kid had a great interception. He turned the momentum, and we never recovered.
“Their defensive line also did a great job stopping our running game. They took the inside and forced us to bounce it. We had to do a better job protecting football.
It took a game for the Warriors to increase their lead. It was Yacamelli, on a block, running 75 yards for a touchdown to make it 24-7.
“Me and Carter have a lot of credit, but there are heroes on this team who don’t get it,” Yacamelli said. “I love my team.”
Exeter tried to reduce Penn-Trafford’s lead later in the quarter by heading towards the Warriors’ 35, but Dunlap ended the threat when he recovered a pass from Payne and traveled 48 yards to at Exeter 22.
Schlessinger put up a 34-yard field goal on the last play of the half to bring the score to 27-7.
Yacamelli ran for 135 yards on 12 carries in the first half, and Greene was a perfect 5 for 5 for 37 yards.
Payne was 8 of 14 for 98 yards and a touchdown. He finished 17 for 27 for 197 yards and four interceptions.
“The guys up front were changing the line of scrimmage,” Ruane said. “They played their butt. We had a lot of pressure to pass.
“I thought two big plays in the game were when we knocked down one deep pass and then intercepted another. It took away their deep threat.
Exeter started the second half with a nice command that stalled at Penn-Trafford 17. They then recovered the ball at Penn-Trafford 41, but on the first try Otto took the front of the pass intended for Schlaffer for end the threat.
Needing a spark on offense, Ruane claimed a false punt and Dunlap ran 65 yards to Exeter 4. A play later, Yacamelli scored to make it 35-7.
Yacamelli then caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Green, and Ian Demeri finished the scoring after Greene recovered a fumble with a 17-yard scoreline.
“We’re very excited about next week and we know we’re playing a great team,” said Ruane. “We have a lot of work to do and we are really excited about this opportunity. “
Key words: Penn trafford