Aliquippa spoils it for Namath, Beaver Falls
Beaver Falls had one of the best football players in Western Pennsylvania history in attendance Friday night. Just so happened Aliquippa had the best players on the field.
With NFL Hall of Fame quarterback and Beaver Falls alumnus Joe Namath in town for a ceremony honoring his 1960 WPIAL champion Tigers, Aliquippa quarterback Mikal Hall and running back Dravon Henry spoiled the party.
Hall completed 9 of 18 for 220 yards and tossed two touchdowns to Kaylen Kenney, while Henry grinded his way to 137 yards on 23 carries and two touchdowns, as Class AA No. 1 Aliquippa dominated Beaver Falls, 27-0, in a Class AA Midwestern Conference game at Geneva College's Reeves Stadium.
The Quips (2-0, 2-0) outscored their rivals, 21-0, in a decisive third quarter and played suffocating defense to smother the No. 4 Tigers (1-1, 1-1).
"It's easy: If you play defense and take care of the ball, you have a chance," said Aliquippa coach Mike Zmijanac. "Our defense played terrific tonight."
Beaver Falls failed to muster much offense. Quarterback Weslley Nesmith completed 4 of 24 passes for 20 yards, and running back Trey Hall gained 77 yards on 15 carries.
"It was disappointing, to say the least," said Beaver Falls coach Ryan Matsook. "We had guys open all night and couldn't hit them. When we did hit them, they dropped it. They outplayed us in every phase of the game."
Both teams seemingly did their best to impress Namath in the first half, but only Aliquippa was able to muster anything through the air. That was enough for the Quips to take a 6-0 lead at halftime.
Neither quarterback was able to connect with his receivers downfield in a scoreless first quarter that featured a back-and-fourth, field-position battle. Those offensive struggles continued through much of the second quarter until Aliquippa forced Beaver Falls to punt from its own 22 and took possession on the Tigers' 43-yard line with 6:12 to play in the half.
On the next play, Hall lofted a pass for Kenney along the right sideline, and the 5-foot-8, 145-pound senior smoothly ran under it, turned upfield and beat two Tigers to the end zone to give the Quips their 6-0 lead.
While Hall finished the half 5 of 12 for 103 yards and the score, Nesmith completed just 2 of 15 attempts for minus-3 yards.
The Tigers' best scoring chance came at the end of the second quarter, when Trey Hall took five straight carries for 39 yards to get Beaver Falls in Aliquippa territory with 42 seconds left. But a false start penalty and three straight Nesmith incompletions forced a Beaver Falls punt.