With the game tied at 28 in overtime, quarterback Nolan Harmotto faked a handoff to Rushel Shell and ran ten yards for the game winning score to give Hopewell (5-4) a 34-31 thrilling win over West Allegheny Thursday night.
In the first half it was the Rushel Shell show. He rushed for over 150 yards in the half including three touchdown runs. He scored on runs of 16, 5 and 77 yards. The other score was a Harmotto passed to Zach Gula for a three-yard score.
Hopewell’s defense denied West Allegheny a first down until the second quarter.
West Allegheny did get on the scoreboard on the final play of the half. Aaron McKinney went in for the two-yard plunge.
Hopewell led 28-7 at halftime.
West Allegheny (6-3) came back from a 28-7 halftime deficit to force overtime. West Allegheny’s defense led the charge. They held Hopewell’s offense to only three first downs and Shell only had 24 yards rushing in the second half.
McKinney led the way for West Allegheny. He scored three of his four touchdowns in the second half on runs of 11, 1 and 35 yards.
His 35-yard run with seven minutes remaining made it 28-26. Then he threw a pass to CJ Revtai to tie the game up at 28.
McKinney finished the night rushing for 83 yards and he caught seven passes for 69 yards.
The game was tied at 28 at the end of regulation. In overtime each team had a chance to score from the 10.
West Allegheny had the ball first in overtime and came away with a 27-yard field goal by Steve Amic.
What would Hopewell do on their next possession? They have one of the best runners in PA in the backfield. It should be hand off to Shell, right?
That is why the next play worked so well as Harmotto faked the handoff and went in for the score.
Hopewell head coach Dave Vestal said, “I knew if we ran play action to Rushel they would be all over him. Our quarterback is a playmaker.”
With the win Hopewell qualifies for the Class AAA playoffs and could be the most dangerous 5-4 team going into the playoffs.
Shell finished the game with 193 yards rushing and three touchdowns. He became the first WPIAL running back to run for 2,000 yards in consecutive regular seasons.
He also passed West Greene’s Rodney Wilson and moved into third place on the WPIAL all-time list with 6,358 yards.