Aliquippa's ground game buries Mt. Pleasant
The Aliquippa football team is halfway to its goal of winning a second straight WPIAL Class AA championship.
On Friday, the top-seeded Quips (11-0) defeated ninth-seeded Mt. Pleasant, 43-6. in a quarterfinal game at Peters Township.
The Quips will face Jeannette in a semifinal game Friday at a location to be determined.
For defending WPIAL champion Aliquippa, a big-play first half was the key to success.
Dravon Henry rushed for three touchdowns in the first half, including scoring runs of 24 and 47 yards. He finished with 80 yards on seven carries. Terry Swanson was also lethal out of the backfield, carrying six times for 113 yards and one score. After Henry scored on a 1-yard run on Aliquippa's opening possession, Swanson gave Aliquippa some breathing room with an 88-yard touchdown run.
“Our running backs ran hard, and our line blocked hard,” Aliquippa coach Mike Zmijanac said.
Leading 14-0 in the second quarter, the Quips put it away with three more rushing touchdowns before the end of the half. Malik Shegog gave the Quips a 36-0 lead late in the first half on a 16-yard run after a Mt. Pleasant turnover.
For the Vikings (8-3), several promising drives early in the game didn't come to fruition. Costly penalties and two failed fourth-down conversions contributed to Mt. Pleasant's struggles.
“We needed to finish some of those drives in the first half and in the first quarter,” Mt. Pleasant coach Bo Ruffner said. “We needed to punch a couple in to give ourselves a shot. Give a lot of credit to their defense. You can't find a weakness on it. It's going to take a special team to beat them.”
Mt. Pleasant was led by Tyler Mellors, who carried 17 times for 63 yards.
The teams played under a running clock in the second half. The Quips got the only score in the third quarter as Devon Walker returned a fumble 29 yards for a touchdown. Mt. Pleasant broke up Aliquippa's shutout bid in the fourth quarter when Brett Fess raced 16 yards for a score.
Jason Black is a sports writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.