Aliquippa shuts out Clairton in penalty-riddled game
It wasn't pretty, but a win is another win for Aliquippa.
The Class 3A No. 1-ranked Quips defended their home turf at the Pit with a 28-0 nonconference win over Class A No. 5 Clairton.
The game was marred by a combined 38 penalties.
“There are no pictures next to Ws,” Aliquippa coach Mike Zmijanac said. “It wasn't pretty. But as long as you are playing that kind of defense, you have a chance.”
Aliquippa (7-0, 3-0) dominated the game from the opening whistle, outgaining Clairton in total yards 211-12.
The Quips got the scoring going in the first quarter as Eli Kosanovich hit Deoveon Crute on a 10-yard fade to the corner of the end zone.
The ground game got going in the second quarter as Tariq Jones scored on touchdown runs of 3 and 2 yards.
“That's what we do,” Zmijanac said. “That is our M.O. The idea is to win the game. Playing defense and taking care of the ball does that.”
The Quips outgained the Bears, 140-minus-29, on the ground.
“They should make noise in Class 3A,” Clairton coach Wayne Wade said. “If that is a 1A football team, we're not. That is a great team.”
The penalties played a major part in Clairton's struggles. In the second quarter, the Bears had the Quips in a third-and-13 at the Aliquippa 30. But back-to-back personal foul penalties set up the second Jones touchdown run.
“We've been fighting that kind of stuff all year,” Wade said. “We need to clean that up. That is something we can control.”
The Quips had outgained the Bears, 158-7, by halftime.
Clairton's most successful drive was the opening series of the second half. The Bears gained 45 yards on Aliquippa penalties alone. But a bad snap and a false start at midfield turned a second and 8 into a third and 17.
The teams' 38 combined penalties accounted for 303 yards.
“Our kids play to the whistle,” Zmijanac said. “I think sometimes we get called for things because we're playing all the way through the play.
“But that is one of the reasons why our players are good.”
Avante McKenzie rounded out the Quips' scoring in the fourth quarter with a 6-yard run. The junior led the team with 104 yards on the ground.
Junior M.J. Devonshire recorded an interception.
Aliquippa has record six shutouts so far this season. The defense has yet to surrender a touchdown.
“You are talking about a championship football team,” Wade said. “(Aliquippa) is a good football team. They are big up front. They are fast. They don't let you get to the edge. They can cover guys in the secondary.
“It showed why they haven't given up a touchdown this year.”
The last time Clairton (4-2, 3-1) lost back-to-back games in the regular season? 2005. The Bears lost to Rochester and Duquesne in Weeks 2 and 3.
“We'll clean some things up,” Wade said. “We are going to dust this one off and walk out of here with our heads up. We still have a lot of football to play.”
Nathan Smith is a freelance writer.