North Allegheny knocks out Central Catholic
By Chris Harlan
Published: Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010,
Art Walker had a halftime question for his North Allegheny players: "I want to coach next week. Do you want to play?"
Alex Papson wanted to play.
North Allegheny's star senior rushed for 161 of his 190 yards in the final two quarters, including a 67-yard touchdown run that helped clinch a spot in the WPIAL Class AAAA championship game.
Behind a strong defense and a somewhat simplistic offense, No. 5 seed North Allegheny claimed a 17-7 semifinal victory over No. 1 Central Catholic before a capacity crowd at Fox Chapel.
"Coach Walker is one of the best speech-givers I've ever seen," Papson said.
After his team managed just 47 first-half yards, Walker chose to make things simple in the second half. North Allegheny (11-1) reverted to the straight-ahead running plays that had worked all season.
"We depended on our bread-and-butter plays," Papson said. "We went back to the basics, and we pounded the football. Our offensive line had a great push."
Central Catholic's Perry Hills passed for 254 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown strike to Dustin Lowman. But the Vikings (11-1) won't be returning to Heinz Field. This will be North Allegheny's first trip the WPIAL championship game since 1998, when it was held at Three Rivers Stadium. The Tigers haven't won a football title since 1990.
"This means the world to me and my team," Papson said.
Facing third-and-7 at its 33-yard line, North Allegheny gave another handoff to Papson. Despite holding only a three-point lead with little more than three minutes left, Walker was willing to trust his defense, which allowed Central Catholic's Damion Jones-Moore only 4 rushing yards on 16 carries.
"We made a decision: As long as our defense is playing the way it's playing, we're going to slug it out," Walker said. "We're going to keep giving Alex carries and hope he pops one. Thank goodness he did."
With 3:12 left, Papson broke free for a 67-yard touchdown run, extending North Allegheny's lead to 10 points.
"We were in formations that Lombardi would be proud of," Walker said with a laugh.
A 33-yard field goal by Alex Greenblatt gave North Allegheny a 10-7 lead with 10:50 left. Greenblatt leads the WPIAL with 10 field goals.
In the first half, defense was dominant, allowing Jones-Moore just 5 rushing yards and Papson 29. Both had 12 carries.
There was a fumbled punt recovered by Central Catholic's Pat Quirin and a blocked punt recovered by North Allegheny's Nathan Nachazel. There were interceptions by North Allegheny's Brendan Coniker and Justin Haser and two by Central Catholic's Ed Latimer.
"We just didn't do enough with (the turnovers)," Central Catholic coach Terry Totten said. "I credit them with hanging in there. I think they beat a pretty good football team tonight."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Host of Steelers veterans look toward career survival mode
- Steelers film session: Polamalu not at fault on long run
- UPMC doctor killed trying to help at 50-vehicle pileup
- One dead in officer-involved shooting in Monroeville
- Young defensemen lift Penguins to win
- McKeesport Festival of Trees raised holiday spirits of needy
- Pirates notebook: Huntington narrows team’s offseason targets
- McKeesport progressing toward resolution of suit
- Versailles moves to join enterprise zone
- Expert: KO doesn’t mean ‘worst’ concussion for Pens’ Orpik
- Search continues for abductor