North Allegheny blanks North Hills, clinches 3rd in Quad North
With this night as proof, the three-time defending WPIAL champion believes it's ready for the playoffs.
North Allegheny forced five turnovers and held North Hills scoreless in Friday's 31-0 victory at Martorelli Stadium, a confidence-building effort in the regular-season finale. The win clinched third place in the Quad North and a likely home playoff game next week.
“This is huge for us,” said NA linebacker Reilly Sullivan, who recovered two fumbles. “We want to go as far as we possibly can.”
This was the first shutout this season for No. 7 North Allegheny (6-3, 5-2). For the first time in weeks the defense was healthy, Sullivan said.
Only once did North Hills reach the 20-yard line, and that possession ended with a fumble. The Indians lost four fumbles and an interception.
This was the third straight year that NA has beaten its rival. As the conference's fourth-place team, North Hills (5-4, 4-3) will start the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs on the road.
“It's discouraging,” North Hills coach Pat Carrey said. “The one thing we've done all year is play tough, gritty football. We've been in every game. When you fumble the football and give them a lead, it's hard to get back into it.”
NA senior Cage Galupi completed 11 of 18 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns. He replaced senior starter Jeff Clemens, who left with a knee injury on the fourth play.
Galupi threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Isaac Weaver and a 46-yarder to Elijah Zeise.
Josh Bergman led NA with 47 yards on 13 carries, including a 3-yard touchdown. The Tigers rushed for 87 yards on 32 carries, but two of North Hills' four fumbles led to touchdowns.
The Indians' turnover issues started on their second snap. After quarterback Kindhal Taylor fumbled near midfield, NA moved 46 yards in six plays and Isaac Weaver caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Cage Galupi to lead 7-0.
North Allegheny used a fumbled North Hills kick return and its own fumble to score touchdowns 38 seconds apart in the second quarter.
When Weaver fumbled at the goal line and teammate Sean Idowu recovered in the end zone for a touchdown, the Tigers held a 14-0 lead. North Hills fumbled the kickoff that followed. A 3-yard touchdown run by Bergman gave North Allegheny a 21-0 lead at halftime.
Seth Mancuso made a 32-yard field goal, and Zeise caught a touchdown in the fourth.
This was NA's best effort this season, coach Art Walker said.
“I think collectively, against a quality opponent, this has to be our best,” Walker said. “We've struggled against some of the better teams. ... This is a great confidence builder rolling into the playoffs.”