The difference in the Ches-Mont League National Conference battle, after quarterback Nick Pagel ran for a 2-yard score to cut East's lead to 28-27, was Pagel's conversion toss to reserve Jake Barr in the right corner with two minutes to play.
Of rolling the dice and going for the win in regulation, Milano said: "We were so mismatched physically. I just felt like we wouldn't stand up so well in a 10-yard game in overtime."
Pagel carried the ball 13 times for 93 yards and three scores. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound senior also completed 8 of 11 passes for 90 yards.
"He was awesome," Milano said matter-of-factly. "He managed the game well, ran the ball well, and he completed some big passes."
Early in the season, Pagel alternated by series with junior Tyler McNulty. After a 39-0 nonleague loss to Neshaminy in Week 2, Pagel was tabbed the No. 1 QB, with McNulty filling in occasionally.
"I knew [Pagel] hated not being in there when it wasn't his series," Milano said. "But he handled it great, was very supportive of his teammates."
In the third quarter against East, Whippets halfback Mitch Meleski and fullback Braden Harper left with injuries. Stepping in were Barr, a 5-9, 165-pound sophomore, and Jimmy DiSantis, a 5-10, 165-pound junior.
"I'm hoping we can get Meleski and Harper back for next week," Milano said, "but those two little guys proved they can play."
The Whippets (7-2 overall, 5-0 league) overcame a 250-yard rushing effort by Ryley Angeline. The Delaware recruit opened the scoring with a 55-yard jaunt and gave the Cougars (4-5, 2-3) a 28-21 edge in the late going on a 5-yard run.
East had a chance to win in the final minute but missed a 34-yard field-goal try. "With a huge crowd and a lot of pressure, I didn't mind seeing the kicker out there," Milano said.
With the National Conference title on the line, West, ranked No. 19 in Southeastern Pennsylvania by The Inquirer, will host No. 3 Coatesville (9-0, 5-0) on Friday night.
The Red Raiders, led by senior tailback Daquan Worley, are averaging 36.3 points per game. They buried the Whippets, 52-20, last year.
"It's going to be tough," Milano said. "We're going to have to play team defense and mix up our coverages."
Playoffs. Here is the schedule for this weekend's Catholic League playoffs:
Class AAAA Semifinal
Father Judge (3) vs. La Salle (2), at Plymouth Whitemarsh, 7 p.m.
Class AAA Semifinal
Lansdale Catholic (4) vs. Archbishop Wood (1), at William Tennent, 7 p.m.
Class AA Final
Neumann-Goretti (2) vs. West Catholic (1), at Southern, 2:30 p.m.
Class AAAA Semifinal
Roman Catholic (4) vs. St. Joseph's Prep (1), at Plymouth Whitemarsh, 7 p.m.
Class AAA Semifinal
Bonner-Prendergast (3) at Cardinal O'Hara (2), 1 p.m.
The Inquirer TOP 25
Last week's rankings in parentheses.
Rk. Team Rec.
1. Imhotep Chart. (2) 7-1
Eight players scored in a 55-0 trouncing of High School of the Future. Next: Saturday vs. Prep Charter.
2. Neshaminy (3) 9-0
D'Andre Pollard rushed for 272 yards and three scores in a 31-14 win over Abington. Next: Friday at No. 4 Pennsbury.
3. Coatesville (4) 9-0
Linebacker Tyler Burke had a pick-six in a 42-20 defeat of West Chester East. Next: Friday at No. 19 Downingtown West.
4. Pennsbury (5) 8-1
Senior Quinn Pfender contributed a rushing score in a 57-14 blowout of Bensalem. Next: Friday vs. No. 2 Neshaminy.
5. St. Joe's Prep (1) 6-2
Reserve Jack Clements fired a scoring pass in a 27-14 loss to Archbishop Ryan. Next: Saturday vs. Roman Catholic.
6. La Salle (6) 7-2
In a 42-12 romp over West Catholic, handyman Jimmy Herron scored three times. Next: Friday vs. No. 13 Father Judge.
7. Garnet Valley (7) 9-0
Tight end John McGrogan had a scoring grab in a 36-6 blitzing of Haverford High. Next: Friday vs. Conestoga.
8. Arch. Ryan (15) 6-3
In the upset of St. Joseph's Prep, Connor Golden produced three interceptions and a TD catch. Next: Idle.
9. Arch. Wood (10) 7-2
Jake Cooper scored on a 20-yard punt return in a 49-6 whipping of Bonner-Prendergast. Next: Friday vs. Lansdale Catholic.
10. Pottsgrove (8) 9-0
Sene Polamalu rushed for 155 yards as the Falcons downed Perkiomen Valley, 23-12. Next: Friday at Upper Perkiomen.
11. W.C. Rustin (9) 9-0
12. Episcopal Ac. (11) 8-1
13. Father Judge (13) 6-3
14. Spring-Ford (16) 7-2
15. Abington (18) 7-2
16. Malvern Prep (21) 5-2
17. North Penn (22) 6-3
18. Perk. Valley (17) 7-2
19. Down. West (23) 7-2
20. Unionville (24) 7-2
21. Pennridge (25) 6-3
22. Plym. Whitem (NR) 7-2
23. West Catholic (20) 7-2
24. Upper Dublin (19) 8-1
25. Upper Darby (NR) 7-2
Under consideration (listed alphabetically): Academy Park (6-2), Central Bucks West (7-2), Frankford (5-3), Glen Mills (6-3), Ridley (6-3), West Chester Henderson (5-4).
- Rick O'Brien