McMURRAY – Josh Casilli is normally known for catching touchdown passes for his Peters Township football team. That happens rather frequently, actually. One might even call it second nature.
So it’s probably no surprise he took a little more pride in getting a pair of takeaways, an interception and fumble recovery, in Friday night’s 38-14 non-conference victory over previously unbeaten North Hills, giving Peters Township its first 5-0 start since 1947.
Oh, and Casilli also caught two more touchdowns, but it’s the interception he wanted to talk about.
“We were emphasizing the whole week we need a pick,” said the senior. “We only had one going into this game. I dropped two at Woodland Hills.”
North Hills didn’t arrive at Peters Township High School until almost the originally scheduled kickoff time of 7 p.m. as a result of backed up traffic stemming from an wreck. Officials pushed the kickoff back to 7:36, and given the extra wait for the hosts and the lack of sufficient warmup time for the visitors, neither team looked sharp at the outset.
“You never want that to happen to you when you get in a rhythm of 7 o’clock games,” said Casilli. “Life brings adversity. You just have to adapt.”
In the second quarter, a miscue from North Hills (4-1) opened the door for Peters Township to strike for the game’s opening points.
After being pinned down at its 14-yard line, North Hills fumbled on first down, and Casilli quickly scooped up the ball and returned it to the 5 to set up the hosts in prime scoring position.
Peters Township needed three tries, but Ryan Magiske (28 carries, 160 yards) powered his way in from a yard out for a 7-0 Peters Township advantage.
The lead lasted 16 seconds.
Thomas McDonough took the ensuing kickoff, despite bobbling it initially, and weaved in and out to scamper 93 yards, and the game was tied just like that.
Shortly before halftime, Peters Township broke the deadlock with a 10-play, 69-yard drive that starred Casilli. The wide receiver caught three passes on the drive for 38 yards, including a crucial fourth-and-11 conversion and then a 9-yard touchdown toss from Logan Pfeuffer.
“Josh is a warrior,” said Peters Township coach T.J. Plack. “Glad he’s on our team.”
Peters Township extended the lead on a 25-yard field goal on the first drive of the third quarter, but in two plays, North Hills cut the deficit to 17-14 on a Dylan Pawling 49-yard run.
Then, the fourth quarter happened, and it was like a switch turned on for the hosts. Three touchdowns in a span of less than five minutes turned the game into a rout, thanks in part to two North Hills turnovers. Casilli caught his second touchdown of the game, and Vinny Sirianni scored on the ground and through the air.
“We played four quarters,” said Plack. “If we’re 5-0, that’s phenomenal. I just know that when the sun comes up in the morning, we’re looking at Canon-McMillan.”
Casilli finished with seven catches for 85 yards. Pfeuffer completed 18 of 30 passes for 223 yards. Pawling had 114 yards rushing in a losing effort.