Aliquippa rushed its way to the 2015 WPIAL Class AA Championship racking up 354 yards on the ground en route to a 44-38 victory over South Fayette at Heinz Field Saturday night. The Quips may have dominated on the ground all night, but it was the passing game that got the go-ahead touchdown on a Jassir Jordan touchdown pass to Thomas Perry with 2:50 in the game.
Aliquippa head coach said of the double pass, “We wanted to score, we haven’t run it since 2011 when we played Jeannette here.”
One if by Land
The Quips were ground forces were led by senior Kaezon Pugh, who torched the South Fayette defense for 179 yards and two touchdowns. The senior running back scored from 2 and 1 yards, respectively.
Aliquippa scored five of its six touchdowns via the ground game. Quarterback Sheldon Jeter chipped in a 23-yard run to start the scoring in the first quarter while Kiyon Fooks and Jassir Jordan added to the rushing attack with scores from 44 and 60 yards, respectively.
Two if by Sea
South Fayette’s offensive strength throughout the night was through the air. Sophomore quarterback Drew Saxton set a WPIAL Championship record throwing for 435 yards on a night where rain was steady throughout the game. The Lions offense was forced to go to the air as a result of star running back Hunter Hayes being unable to go full speed due to injury.
The Lions fought back from two separate 14-point deficits before ultimately succumbing to a double-pass the Quips haven’t used since 2011 that put Aliquippa up six with 2:50 left in the game.
“Most programs would have laid down at that point,” South Fayette head coach Joe Rossi said of his squad, “but they were championship caliber and to come back against Aliquippa two times like that was impressive.”
Senior Nick Ponikvar ended his career with a night to remember hauling in eight Saxton passes for 184 yards and a touchdown. Leading the Lions in scoring was junior receiver Rhyan Culberson who hauled in three touchdowns from Saxton and finished with six receptions good for 92 yards.
Just Keep Playing
The Quips knew they were in for a dogfight going into their match-up, and especially so after the Lions came back twice from 14-point deficit.
“We were preparing for a dogfight against South Fayette, they’re a great football team. We just had to keep fighting throughout,” Pugh went on to say about the Lions who had their 44-game win streak broken.
“We just wanted to stay focused and stay within the game plan every play,” said Jeter about the Quips’ mindset on the final drive. “We just kept fighting and saying just keep playing that whole last drive,”
The Quips will take on Karns City in the PIAA Class AA Quarterfinals.