WEXFORD – They were as good as TJ Plack said they were.

No overstatements here.

Pine-Richland stretched its muscles Saturday night and the victim was the Peters Township Indians.

Pine-Richland destroyed Peters Township, 35-0, Saturday in the WPIAL Class 5A football championship game at Wright Field on the campus of North Allegheny High School.

Pine-Richland (9-0) moves on to play Governer Mifflin in the PIAA semifinals. Peters Township finishes the season with an 8-1 record.

The Rams have won WPIAL titles five times: 2003, 2014, 2017, 2018 and 2020.

“We ran into a team that made a few more plays,” said Donovan McMillan, headed to Florida soon to extend his athletic and scholastic ventures. “I think we had a wonderful season. These guys are like brothers to me. It’s going to hard to leave them.”

This was the second time Peters Township has made the finals, losing both.

“It wasn’t our night,” said Peters Township head coach TJ Plack. “They have talented guys at every position. They won the war up front and that really hurt. Hats off to (Pine-Richland). They have a very good team.”

Pine-Richland quarterback Cole Spencer, headed to Penn to wrestle, had a terrific game, passing for 131 yards on 15 completions of 31 attempts. He also ran the ball 14 times for 103 yards. He threw for one touchdown and ran for another.

“We got off to a good start, except for the first drive,” said Spencer of the three-and-out on the first drive. “But I think we scored on every other possession of the first half. We have a state championship team here. That’s the goal.”

Eli Jochem had eight receptions for 72 yards, running back Brooks Eastburn rushed five times for 102 yards, including an 80-yard run in the third quarter that set off the Mercy Rule, and Caden Sweiger had 58 yards on 18 attempts. Pine-Richland had more than 300 yards rushing.

Peters Township’s leading rusher Nico Pate could not go and the running game was left to Lucas Culan, who came into the game with just nine carries this season.

Pine-Richland head coach Eric Kasperowicz said this has been a wild year, what with the coronavirus. The Rams had their nonconference game with Gateway canceled because of the virus.

“It’s crazy. Every time you come to the stadium, you’re blessed,” he said. “Every single day, we gave the kids constant reminders. Don’t be with people you shouldn’t be with. Don’t go out, stay at home. Constant reminders.”

Pine-Richland built a 28-0 lead at halftime, totally dominating the game.

Cole Spencer capped a 19-play, 79-yard drive by racing in from the one. Alex Nicassio’s extra-point kick was good and the Rams led 7-0.

Pine-Richland put together a 74-yard, nine-play drive with Jochem catching a 28-yard pass from Spencer down the middle of the field to make it 14-0.

The Rams then tried an onside kick they recovered nine yards down the field, which would not be legal. But the officials ruled it a good onside kick.

Pine-Richland went 49 yards with Brooks Eastburn going eight yards without being touched for a 21-0 lead.

Spencer made it 28-0 when he broke a tackle and went 28 yards for the score and a four-touchdown lead.

Peters Township got inside the Pine-Richland 10-yard line three times but came away with zero points. One was because of a 42-yard missed field goal by Andrew Massucci, another because an interception of a Pfeuffer pass and because of a fourth-down stop by the Pine-Richland defense.

“We weren’t able to consistently move the ball,” said Plack. “I thought we had two plays open (near the end zone). We usually like to run it in there.”

Peters Township had a great chance to score when the Indians recovered a muffed punt at the Pine-Richland nine. But a fourth-down pass to Lucas Culan was stopped at the two.

Pine-Richland totally outplayed Peters Township in the first half. The Rams held Peters Township to minus-4 yards rushing and 56 yards passing. Pine-Richland, meanwhile, had 152 yards rushing and 116 passing and 16 first downs.

Assistant Sports Editor

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling.

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