WPIAL CLASS A Farrell captures playoff rematch over Duquesne
This time, the Steelers' Allan Claiborne was healthy.
By ERIC POOLE
McMURRAY, Pa. -- When Farrell and Duquesne met in the regular season's first week, Steelers running back Allan Claiborne was injured early in the game, which helped give the Dukes a victory.
"When I was on the sidelines watching the team go down, it hurt," the junior running back said.
When the two teams met again Friday, it was Duquesne (8-3) that ended up hurting.
Claiborne stuck around for the end, gained 117 yards on 18 carries and scored two touchdowns in Farrell's 30-19 WPIAL Class A quarterfinal victory.
This season, the Steelers' (9-2) attack has typically consisted of the breakaway running of Claiborne and Justin and Quentin Odem.
But Duquesne, which was able to match Farrell's offensive quickness, forced Farrell into a power running game.
Meet challenge: As it turned out, offensive linemen Gerald Manning, Justin Nicastro, Rufus Chambers, Sean Kearney and Brian Sanders and tight end Marcus Gregory met the challenge.
"We can be a big-play team and we can be a power team," Farrell coach Lou Falconi said. "Tonight, we went with power."
The Steelers scored on two of their first three possessions.
Claiborne, who has 1,236 yards and 16 touchdowns this season, gained 51 yards on five carries -- including a 4-yard scoring run -- on Farrell's first possession.
After an exchange of punts, Duquesne began to establish its own running game behind senior running back Todd Harris, who led all rushers with 123 yards.
Intercepted: But in an attempt to convert a third-and-12 situation, Dukes' quarterback Jamaar Grace was intercepted by Farrell's Brandon Chambers, who broke at least six tackles on an 80-yard return to Duquesne's 10.
Two plays later, quarterback Brian Dungee hit Pete Craig on a fade pattern. The duo hooked up again for the conversion and a 14-0 lead.
Harris pulled the Dukes back into the game on their next possession with a 20-yard touchdown. Duquesne picked up another score with six seconds remaining in the first half on a 1-yard run by Jamaar Grace.
"We missed a lot of tackles and every time we did, Harris made a lot of yardage," Falconi said. "But they've got a lot of weapons.
"We stopped a hell of a football team tonight."
On the kickoff following Grace's touchdown, Chambers broke off another big run, making the Dukes' kick coverage team miss at least six more tackles on a 57-yard kickoff return. But Duquesne's Shawntez Neal made a touchdown-saving tackle as time ran out on the first half.
After Chambers' long return, the Dukes resorted to short squib kickoffs in the third quarter, which resulted in good field position for the Steelers -- which, in turn, led to the game's next score.
With Duquesne punting out of its own end zone, the center snap sailed over the head of punter Harris, giving Farrell a 16-13 lead.
After the ensuing free kick, Justin Odem, who had 41 yards on 11 carries, scored on an 8-yard run, capping a 31-yard drive.
Claiborne padded the Steelers' lead by another touchdown on a 15-yard run with 4:42 left in the game.
On their next possession, the Dukes showed they weren't finished as Windell Brown eluded at least six Farrell tacklers to turn a screen pass from Grace into a 55-yard touchdown play. Duquesne then recovered the onside kick.
More to come: It fell to Chambers, who intercepted Grace's desperation pass attempt, to ice the game and avenge the Steelers' regular-season defeat.
Farrell moves on to a semifinal matchup against Rochester (9-2). And it will be the Rams, who had a regular-season loss to Farrell, who will be seeking revenge.
The winner of that game will have a Nov. 24 appointment at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh for the WPIAL Class A title.