West Allegheny rolls past Indiana into Class AAA semifinals
West Allegheny will take an undefeated record into the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals after its 38-7 win over Indiana on Friday at Martorelli Stadium.
After a sluggish first few minutes, West Allegheny went on a three-play, 57-yard drive to take a lead it would not surrender. West Allegheny quarterback Andrew Koester capped the drive with his first of three touchdown passes, this one a 36-yard pass to Jed Buck with 1 minute, 34 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
After running back Chayse Dillon extended the lead with a 12-yard scoring run, Koester found Buck for the second time for an 11-yard touchdown on the Indians' next drive to build a 21-0 lead with 1:18 left in the half. The junior quarterback finished with 111 yards on 8-of-13 passing.
“Andrew has had a great jump from his sophomore to his junior year, and it shows in the amount of preparation he does,” West Allegheny coach Bob Palko said.
Indiana had a chance to get back in the game before halftime, when Jordan Casses returned the ensuing kickoff to West Allegheny's 39-yard line. But two sacks pushed the Little Indians back to their 31-yard line.
West Allegheny started its next drive at Indiana's 41 and took advantage of the field position. DJ Opsatnik drilled a 35-yard field goal to give the Indians a 24-0 halftime lead.
The Indians went to the ground in the second half and drained much of the clock.
West Allegheny had three backs finish with more than 50 yards rushing, led by Dillon's 142 yards on 18 carries.
Terence Stephens received the majority of the touches in the second half and finished with 71 rushing yards, and Whitney White — who was carried off after the game with ice on his right ankle — added 59 yards.
West Allegheny dared Indiana to stop its rushing attack by snapping the ball directly to their running back for the most of the game. But the Little Indians could not compete with West Allegheny's trio of backs.
“We tried to get a lot of guys involved tonight because we have a lot of talented kids,” Palko said. “Chayse is a super-talented young man, and he's been patient and unselfish, but I will tell you, he's a competitive sucker.”
Indiana scored its only touchdown when DeQuan West scored from 5 yards late in the fourth quarter.
“We had rough start and had some key injuries early on and lost some games,” Indiana coach Mark Zilinskas said. “To be able to come and fight hard and just make it in the playoffs and win in the first round, I think was a great thing for our kids.”
West Allegheny will face Franklin Regional, which defeated West Mifflin, 14-12, in the semifinals next week.
Wes Crosby is a freelance writer.