Road to Heinz: Title games gave us plenty of points
WPIAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME 1: 3A
#1 Aliquippa (10-2) vs. #2 Beaver Falls (10-1)
Talk about tale of two games - Week 1: Aliquippa 44 - Beaver Falls 13, Week 12 - not the same case. Beaver Falls led by solid line play on both sides of the ball and a big game from RB/WR Derrell Carter (14 carries for 140 yards and 2 total TDs) fought back from their disappointing season-opening game against the Quips to prove they are not the pushover once more. Beaver Falls dominated the line play on both sides throughout the game, and at one point led the Quips 28-6 in the fourth quarter. Of course no one wrote off the Quips just yet, but the game seemed to be in favor of the Tigers. Aliquippa eventually broke through in the fourth quarter scoring two late scores on a few onside kick attempts. The last onside attempt was recovered by Beaver Falls where the second score by Carter via a 49 yard run finished the game in favor of the Tigers 35-22. The win was Beaver Falls first title since 1984, a drought that hadn't gone without a couple attempts by the Tigers to add another. Up next for the Tigers of Beaver Falls (11-1) is a bye in the semifinals for PIAA Championships as in two weeks they will eventually meet against either Karns City or the Juniata vs. Central Martinsburg winner.
WPIAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME 2: 5A
#1 West Allegheny (11-0) vs. #3 McKeesport (9-2)
Football games are decided fairly easy - the team that has the most points win. The 5A title game showed two teams who would not budge against each other until 5 quarters were completed. West Allegheny came into the game heavy favorites to beat McKeesport after winning big last week and McKeesport escaping with a late dramatic win. Such was the case again - a dramatic finish this time in a title game. McKeesport just like Beaver Falls seemingly dominated three quarters of the game, but let off the gas in the fourth quarter where West A fought back to score 16 points. Before the last 3 of those 16 points were scored, McKeesport had a long drive that ended with a score to give them the lead 30-27 with 58 seconds to play. West A took the ball and moved it down the field setting up for a 50 yard field goal to hopefully force overtime. DJ Opsatnik lined up and kicked the ball, watching in disbelief as the ball fell short of the goal post. McKeesport started celebrating and even gave the coach the "winning celebration" pouring ice and water all over the field. However, as everyone focused on the ball going through the air, a yellow flag stood out near the placement of the hold - sure enough a McKeesport defender ran into the kicker and a 15 yard penalty was assessed. Opsatnik now lined up for the kick from only 35 yards out and sure enough, that was the difference - West A and McKeesport went into overtime 30-30. In overtime, McKeesport took the first attempt and scored easily by Ray Zellars and the PAT was good making it 37-30 going to the bottom half of OT. West A took the ball and also scored easily as Willy Weber found the endzone. Legendary West A coach Bob Palko decided to end the game no matter what by going for two. Nick Ross, QB for West A, took the snap and at first there was no opening to throw in the endzone. Ross stepped out of the pocket to the right and finally found an open alley to the endzone as Ross added the 2-point conversion to seal the victory in favor of West A, 38-37 in OT. Not only was this game exciting and gave us the best excitement during the day, the win also gave coach Palko his eighth WPIAL title as coach for West A and now is the only coach with such. Up next for West Allegheny (12-0) is Meadville who came off an impressive win 76-29 over Hollidaysburg.
WPIAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME 3: 4A
#1 Thomas Jefferson (11-0) vs. #7 New Castle (8-4)
Not every story ends with a surprising or "cinderella" ending. Such was the case for the Red Hurricane of New Castle as they were defeated easily in the 4A championship game by favorited and bigger-sized Thomas Jefferson. The first quarter involved two teams that were in-check of each other - a blocked punt by New Castle set the team up early for a score; however, an interception in the endzone gave favor back to TJ. Eventually two late 2nd quarter scores by TJ gave the Jaguars a 14-0 lead at halftime. Needless to say, the score did not depict the physical play by TJ who was looking to repeat as champions again. RB Quinton Hill was the big story of the night for TJ as he had a record setting night with 39 carries for 248 yards and three scores. After the first quarter, TJ scored 14 points in each of the remaining quarters as TJ won convincingly 42-0. New Castle's crazy run after being 6-4 during the regular season and winning 2 games against teams that had beaten them during the regular season (South Fayette and Ringgold) had finally came to an end. Although it wasn't the cinderella story for New Castle that carried on, during the 4th quarter at the two minute mark as TJ was on their way to the win, Light-Up Night in Pittsburgh began to reign over the PA system and Heinz field. Up next for Thomas Jefferson (12-0) is a tough and stingy Cathedral Prep who came off a 58-12 win over University Prep.
WPIAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME 4: 6A
#1 Pittsburgh Central Catholic (11-1) vs. #6 Seneca Valley (8-3)
Due to the 5A Championship taking longer to finish (OT), the 4A Championship started almost 45 minutes late, which finally meant that Central Catholic and Seneca Valley would get under way at 9PM, almost an entire hour later than expected. This didn't phase the Vikings as Pittsburgh Central Catholic dominated the rest of the evening to win their 3rd title in 4 years and 6th WPIAL title overall. The first quarter was another game where the teams felt each other out until PCC finally broke through late to take a 7-0 lead. Seneca Valley did finally get on the board with a passing touchdown to make the score 14-7 in favor of PCC. However, this was as close as SV would get as PCC tallied the last 28 points of the game, going on to win the game 42-7. The star of the night for PCC and the game was J.J. Younger, who ran for 136 yards and had three scores. Up next for Central Catholic (12-1) is Williamsport who won a tight game over State College.
Looking at the results, W-Zone finished 3-1 on the day with the only blemish being the dominant Beaver Falls team. Check back in later tonight for score results from 1A and 2A semifinal games during the evening.