Fast start fuels big victory for Aliquippa
Only the TV timeouts could slow Aliquippa.
The Quips scored touchdowns on four of their first five possessions and also returned an interception for a first-quarter score in Thursday night's 66-7 victory over Beaver Falls at Aliquippa's Carl Aschman Stadium.
Senior quarterback Malik Shegog threw two long touchdown passes to wideout Shaquere McBride and rushed for another, helping No. 1-ranked Aliquippa rout its No. 7-ranked rival from the Midwestern Conference. Dravon Henry also rushed for two first-half touchdowns as Aliquippa (8-0, 6-0) surged to a 34-0 lead in the televised game.
Even the Quips' defense scored two touchdowns ... and forced five turnovers.
“We played extremely well; we can't play better than that,” said Aliquippa coach Mike Zmijanac.
This was expected to be the first serious test for the defending WPIAL Class AA champions, who again have title expectations. They'd outscored their first seven opponents, 365-22, and had running clocks in each of those mercy-rule victories.
But this was just the same. Aliquippa led at halftime, 46-7, and the clock ran steady for the final 24 minutes at The Pit, where the grass field was soaked by rain. The MAC title will be decided here next Friday night, when currently undefeated Beaver (7-0, 5-0) visits. Beaver, ranked No. 5, hosts one-win Ellwood City tonight.
“When they passed out the schedules, Beaver Falls and Beaver were highlighted,” Henry said of the Week 8 and 9 games.
Beaver Falls (6-2, 5-2) could have grabbed at least a share of the MAC title with a two wins, but those hopes were dashed quickly Thursday.
“You've got to be more mentally focused as a football team when you go against the No. 1 team in the state,” Beaver Falls coach Ryan Matsook said. “When you're not (focused), they're going to capitalize on your mistakes. That's what they did.”
The Quips scored 28 first-quarter points, exceptional even for a team that entered averaging 52.1 per game, second only to South Fayette's 53.1. And those two Class AA powers have been trendy picks to meet at Heinz Field in five weeks.
Thursday's scoring started on the game's second play, when Shegog's 36-yard pass found McBride alone near the end zone along the left sideline. The touchdown gave Aliquippa a 7-0 lead with just 41 seconds gone.
The score turned lopsided when Shegog ran 27 yards for a touchdown, Jyier Turner returned an interception 30 yards and Terry Swanson added a 42-yard scoring run — all within the first 12 minutes. With frequent scoring, a few penalties and television timeouts, the first quarter lasted nearly an hour.
Henry, a talented junior Division I recruit, had touchdown runs of 11 and 32 yards in the second quarter. McBride, a senior, also caught a 50-yard touchdown pass midway through the second quarter.
A 63-yard touchdown pass from Dan Stratton to tight end Sage Curry in the second quarter gave Beaver Falls (6-2, 5-2) its only points.
Westinghouse 18, Carrick 0 — Rico Christian scored on touchdown runs of 50, 20 and 3 yards to lead Westinghouse (1-7, 1-4) to a City League win.
Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-380-5666.