Foxes Keep Playoff Hopes Alive

| Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, TRIB-LIVE

Fox Chapel continued to utilize its effective rushing attack spearheaded by quarterback Nick Gizzo and running back Micah Morris to extend its winning streak to three games with a 19-13 victory over Baldwin in WPIAL Class 5A Allegheny 9 game at Fox Chapel.

However, this contest against the Highlanders (1-6, 0-6) was much closer compared to wins over Moon and Hampton the past two weeks.

Mistakes and penalties thwarted scoring opportunities for the Foxes (4-4, 4-3) and kept the Highlanders in the game.

The Highlanders had an opportunity to take the lead with six minutes remaining.

However, Fox Chapel senior linebacker Chase Villani sacked Baldwin sophomore quarterback Mason Stahl around midfield to force a punt with less than three minutes left to seal the win and keep the Foxes’ playoff hopes alive.

“We did enough to hurt ourselves, but we also did enough to play tough when it counted and made stops to get the job done,” Fox Chapel coach Tom Loughran said.

The Foxes had a 12-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but Baldwin put together an eight play, 80-yard drive that was capped by a 31-yard touchdown reception by senior wide receiver Nicholas Lachut from Stahl with under nine minutes remaining.

Stahl finished 7 of 15 for 108 yards with an interception.

“I’m not going to complain about our kids’ effort. Our kids are starting to play for 48 minutes. It’s just dealing with a young team. We are making little mistakes,” Baldwin coach Loran Cooley said. “It’s things that we need to clean up, and it’s things you would expect with a young team. Every week we are getting better.”

The issues for the Foxes started on the first offensive series as Morris fumbled the ball at the 1-yard line when he was stripped in the open field and the ball went through the back of the end zone for a touchback.

Morris redeemed himself in the second quarter when he put the Foxes up 10-0 on a 13-yard run up the middle that capped an eight-play, 70-yard drive.

Baldwin responded later in the second with a punishing 76-yard run by sophomore running back Angelo Priore up the right sideline to narrow the Fox Chapel lead to 10-7. Priore finished with 126 yards rushing on 18 carries.

The Foxes tacked on a 31-yard field goal by senior Andrew Jeffrey to take a 13-7 lead into halftime.

In the second half, Gizzo, who did most of his damage on the ground, connected with senior Brayden Thomas on 26-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter to extend the Foxes’ lead to 19-7.

Gizzo rushed for two touchdowns in the second half, but penalties negated both scores and the drives stalled.

Gizzo rushed for a team-high 174 yards on 30 carries, while Morris had 16 carries for 153 yards as the Foxes finished with 372 yards on the ground.

“Those two kids are good athletes, and they know how to rush the football. They do a good job of feeding off each other. I think it’s a very symbiotic relationship,” Loughran said.

The Foxes were penalized 10 times for 102 yards, which has been a thorn in their side the whole season.

“We want to get into the playoffs and finish with a 5-3 record in the conference. We do a lot of good things, but we are still trying to overcome our inability to stop hurting ourselves,” Loughran said.