O’HARA TWP — The Mars football team fought back, but couldn’t dig itself out of an early hole in a season-ending 28-13 loss to West Mifflin on Friday night in the WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinals at Fox Chapel High School.
Jimmy Wheeler ran for 144 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries, while Derrick Fulmore added 108 yards and a score on 14 attempts to pace the Titans (10-1).
Wheeler found the end zone twice on scampers of 20 and 19 yards in the first quarter to give West Mifflin an early 14-0 advantage after 12 minutes of play. His second score capped a 12-play, 46-yard drive after Mars lost a fumble on its second offensive play from scrimmage.
However, the Planets (9-2) responded in the second frame when Owen Nearhoof connected with Jason Lozzi on a 15-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to 14-6.
Wheeler returned the ensuing kickoff 79 yards, but the Mars defense came up big on a fourth-and-3 at the 8-yard line to prevent further damage before halftime.
The Planets started the third quarter with the ball, but Nearhoof was intercepted by Fulmore on a third-and-7, which led to a 3-yard touchdown plunge from Wheeler and a 21-6 cushion for the Titans.
Mars answered once again, though, this time on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Nearhoof to Garrett Ashbaugh with 27 seconds to play in the third quarter and trimmed the gap to 21-13.
The Planets had a chance to even the game, but a holding call and dropped pass stalled a fourth-quarter drive.
On the following drive, Fulmore put the game away for the Titans with a 47-yard sprint down the right sideline on a third-and-3, pushing the advantage to 28-13.
Josh Schultheis led the Planets’ rushing attackwith just 45 yards.