Big Plays Leads Gateway To Another Class 5A WPIAL Title

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The constant downpour didn’t affect the passing attack for No. 2 Gateway (12-2) on Saturday Night as the Gators held of No. 5 Peters Township (12-2), 21-20, in the Class 5A WPIAL Championship Game at Norwin.

The title was the second in three years for the Gators and seventh in program history.

This was the first appearance in the championship game in program history for the Indians.

Gateway got off to a quick start, finding the end zone on its first possession. After converting on a couple of third downs, senior Bryson Venanzio hit junior Chamor Price in stride for the touchdown. In the rain, junior Jayson Jenkins converted his first of three extra points in the game.

Peters Township had a quick response, scoring to tie the game up in two plays. After a long catch and run from Corban Hondru from Logan Pfeuffer, Ryan Magiske ran it in from 16 yards out to tie the game.

Tied entering the second quarter, the Gators continued to find success through the air.

Venanzio threw his second long touchdown of the half, a 61-yard scoring play to sophomore Patrick Body for a 14-7 lead.

It looked like that would be the score heading into half, but Peters got into field goal range with a second left on the clock. Andrew Massucci converted on the 24-yard field goal to make it 14-10 at the half.

Gateway controlled the field possession battle in the second half, making it hard for Peters Township late in the game.

After forcing a punt on the first possession, the Gators extended the lead to 21-10 on a 1-yard run by senior Jay Johnson.

Gateway tried to keep the momentum by recovering the ensuing onside kick, but couldn’t take advantage of it.

Still with an 11 point lead and the ball, Peters Township started its comeback. Magiske intercepted a pass by Venanzio and returned it deep into Gator territory. On the next play, Magiske found the end zone to cut the deficit to 21-17.

The Indians tacked on a field goal to make it a one point game.

In one of the more critical points in the game, Venanzio executed two pooch punts inside the 10-yard line, one pinning the Indians at their own 1. Needing to go the length of the field, the Gators defense were able to turn the Indians over on downs to clinch the championship.

Junior Derrick Davis led Gateway with 87 rushing yards on 11 carries, including a big run out of the Wild Cat formation, leading to a touchdown.

Venanzio finished 17-of-28 for 242 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Body had five receptions for 117 yards. Senior Tui Faumuina Brown hauled in six receptions for 49 yards. Brown also had a stellar day on defense, including forcing a fumble.

Gateway will face District 12 champion, Archbishop Wood on Friday at Altoona at 1 p.m.