Aliquippa uses 96-yard drive in 4th quarter to win 14th WPIAL title
Written by: Josh Funk on Saturday, November 26th, 2011
PITTSBURGH – Its backs against the wall, Aliquippa had to drive the length of the field against an unrelenting Jeannette defensive unit which had made moving the ball all sorts of miserable for the red and black.
But when Aliquippa needed senior field general Mikal Hall to step up and make plays, No. 15 did exactly that.
Hall connected with Devon Walker for a game-winning 11-yard touchdown pass with 29 seconds left in the game to propel Aliquippa (13-0) to its record 14th WPIAL football championship with a narrow 14-7 victory over a game Jeannette (12-1) team Saturday evening from Heinz Field.
With the victory, the Quips will take on District 9 champion Moniteau (12-0) in a PIAA AA quarterfinal next weekend at a site and time to be determined.
The winning Aliquippa drive, 11 plays, 96 yards and 2:21 in length, was set up by a defensive stand as Drayvon Henry stopped Jeannette’s Anthony Kennedy on 4th-and-goal at the 4-yard line with 3:01 left in the game.
After a misfire on a wide receiver option pass, Mikal Hall connected on passes of 32 yards to Kaylan Kenney, 15 yards to Kenney, passes of 12 and 13 yards to Davion Hall and then the winning strike to Walker. In all, Mikal Hall threw for 159 yards and two touchdowns.
“All that was going through my mind was getting it in the end zone,” Mikal Hall said.
No. 15 entered the championship game with 3,878 career passing yards, and the 159-yard effort gives him 4,037 career passing yards. He is the first such Aliquippa quarterback to pass for more than 4,000 yards in a career.
“I thought we had a good chance to stop them,” Jeannette head coach Roy Hall said. “But you know Aliquippa. They can spark at any moment.”
But the spark was largely devoid for much of the game, save for the first half when Aliquippa scored its first touchdown when Mikal Hall found Walker from 17 yards out and a 6-0 lead. That’s how the score would stay until just past the midway point of the third quarter.
Clinging to its 6-0 lead, the Quips had forced the Jayhawks to punt at its 47-yard line, but the red and black were flagged for roughing the kicker, giving Jeannette new life and a first down. Demetrious Cox scored Jeannette’s touchdown on a 1-yard run with 5:07 left in the third stanza. Cox step up the short plunge with a 19-yard run on the previous play.
But the game was far from over.
“Aliquippa’s not going to back down,” Roy Hall said. “We are similar ball clubs. It’s a shame one of us had to lose tonight.”
Jeannette began marching after recovering a Mikal Hall fumble off of a sack with 6:22 left. Cox found Mike Wise on a 35-yard pass on a 2nd-and-forever situation down to the Quip 10, but four plays later, Kennedy was stuffed by Henry.
Aliquippa head coach Mike Zmijanic praised the play of his defensive unit this night, which limited Jeannette’s potent three-headed backfield monster of Cox, Jordan Edmunds and Shavonta Craft to a combined 116 yards. The trio was averaging more than 240 rushing yards per game entering the title tilt.
“I thought our defense played very well today,” Zmijanic said. “Our offense sputtered a bit, but that’s what championships are for. If you don’t make those plays, you don’t win the game.
“Jeannette’s a fabulous program,” Zmijanic continued. “You don’t get to 12-0 by accident.”
Drayvon Henry led the way for Aliquippa with 92 yards rushing on 22 carries. Terry Swanson, the Quips’ second-leading rusher, had just 16 yards on five carries. Davion Hall caught four passes for 48 yards and Kenney hauled in three passes for 51.
Cox threw for 105 yards on a 5-of-13 day. He was intercepted once, finishing his senior season with 1,263 rushing yards and 858 passing, with 29 total touchdowns (22 rushing).
Aliquippa won its first WPIAL championship since 2008. Jeannette was in its first title game since 2007. The Jayhawks also lost the 2003 WPIAL AA title game to the Quips.
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