Highway to Heinz - Semifinals Recaps

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Championship Saturday 2010 is now set after eight Semifinals contests played out Friday around the WPIAL. Here are recaps from all eight games that were heard here on the MSA Sports Network, your EXCLUSIVE home for the title games on Saturday, November 27th at Heinz Field.

WPIAL CLASS AAAA Semifinals:

Thanks to Dan Zangrilli and Justin McKim for their help on these recaps!

North Allegheny Tigers 17 - Pittsburgh Central Catholic Vikings 7
The North Allegheny Tigers upset the top-seeded Central Catholic Vikings at Fox Chapel High School on Friday night, prevailing 17-7 to advance to the WPIAL Championship for the first time since 1998. In an expected defensive stalemate, both teams were deadlocked 7-7 at halftime before Tigers' senior tailback Alex Papson, who was held to just 32 first-half rushing yards, exploded for 162 yards in the second half to lead the surge. The Tigers (12-1) would break the tie at the 10:50 mark in the fourth quarter when Alex Greenblatt's 33-yard field goal proved to be the great divide, but Papson would add a 67 yard touchdown run - his 31st of the year - with 3:12 left in regulation to seal NA's fate. The Viking's Damon Jones-Moore was held to four yards rushing on 16 carries in the loss for Central Catholic (11-1). North Allegheny will meet Woodland Hills (9-3) as they square off for the AAAA Championship game at Heinz Field which will be a rematch of the 1996 title game.

Woodland Hills Wolverines 24 - North Hills Indians 14
After dropping three of its first four games to start the season, Heinz Field was probably the last thing on the minds of the Woodland Hills Wolverines. The defending WPIAL AAAA champs were snake bitten by ineffective play and injuries. But Head Coach George Novak made some strategic moves to conserve the energy of a couple of his two-way players, and, one of those guys, Lafayette Pitts, overcame an early season knee injury. And ever since then, Pitts and the Wolverines have been on the rise. Sparked by Pitts' 267 yards rushing and three touchdowns, Woodland Hills defeated North Hills, 24-14, Friday night at Pine Richland High School in a AAAA semifinal clash. The Wolverines move on to Heinz Field and will face North Allegheny next Saturday night. Not to be outdone, the Woodland Hills defense was stout, forcing five North Hills' turnovers in holding the Indians to -4 yards rushing. The teams went back in forth in the first half before the Wolverines pulled away late in the contest. Pitts opened the scoring with a 4-yard TD run with 8:53 remaining in the first quarter after North Hills fumbled at its own 30-yard line on the game's first play from scrimmage. Indians' running back Josh Neurohr (5 yards) and Pitts (56) would then exchange TD runs in the 2nd quarter before North Hills QB Steve Dutkowski hooked up with Mark DeVita for a 28-yard pass play to tie the score at 14. Woodland Hills, though, capitalized on its final possession of the half, marching seven plays in 50 seconds to set up Sam Scifo's 21-yard field goal for a 17-14 halftime lead. After a scoreless third quarter, Wolverines' cornerback Ron Tyler picked off an Indians' pass at the North Hills 22-yard line with 7:57 remaining in the fourth. Three minutes later, Pitts burst free again for a 52-yard TD run to punctuate the victory. With its eighth consecutive triumph, Woodland Hills (9-3) will look to deliver Novak his seventh WPIAL crown and sixth as Wolverines coach. North Hills (10-2) was led by Dutkowski's 190 yards passing. Neurohr finished with a game-high seven receptions, while DeVita led all receivers with 85 yards. The victory for the Wolverines avenged a Week 2, 7-0, loss to the Indians.


WPIAL CLASS AAA Semifinals:

Thanks to Bob Orkwis and Bob Gregg for their help on these recaps!

Montour Spartans 35 - Mars Fighting Planets 14
The top seeded Spartans remained perfect and advanced to WPIAL Class AAA Finals for the second time since 2007 with the win over the Fighting Planets at Chartiers Valley High School. Dillon Buechel threw four touchdown passes for the fourth time this season and finished with 222-yards passing. Buechel and Darren Massey hooked up for two first half touchdowns, including a 48-yard connection that gave the Spartans a 7-0 with 4:47 left in the first quarter. But Austin Miele and Mars answered back on the ensuing drive. Miele, who had a 66-yard run during the drive, found the end zone from 2-yards out at the 2:22 mark. But the extra point snap was bobbled and Montour remained in the lead 7-6, a lead the Spartans would never relinquish. Buechel and Massey connected again in the 2nd quarter, this time from 46-yards, and Lucas Tourney's extra point made the score 14-6. Buechel would find a wide open Aaron McGee for a 64-yard TD pass with 2:12 left before halftime, and Montour would head into intermission up 21-6. Mars opened the second half with an impressive 21-play, 81-yard drive which ended when Eric Guzak found Aaron Lozzi for a beautiful 21-yard scoring strike. Guzak hit Miele with the two point conversion pass and Mars was right back in the contest at 21-14 with 3:35 left in the third quarter. But the Spartans had the answer, driving 78-yards in 9 plays to retake the momentum in this game. Julian Durden finished the drive scoring his 25th rushing touchdown of the season: 11 into the fourth quarter to put Montour up again by 14 points. Buechel would cap the win and his great night by hitting Devin Wilson with a 10-yard scoring strike with 3:46 remaining to make the final score 35-14. Massey finished the game with three receptions for 110-yards and his two touchdowns. Durden added 107-yards rushing on 25 carries. Guzak (152-yards passing) and Miele (27 carries/167-yards rushing) finished their careers at Mars with big games in a losing effort. The Fighting Planets saw their 10-game winning streak end and they finished the season at (10-2). Montour is now (11-0) and the Spartans will try for their first WPIAL Championship since 1964 next Saturday at Heinz Field when they face 14th seeded Central Valley.

Central Valley Warriors 42 - Thomas Jefferson Jaguars 24
Rob Foster scored four touchdowns leading Central Valley to a 42-24 upset of #2 Thomas Jefferson. The win puts the Warriors into the WPIAL championship game at Heinz Field against Parkway Conference foe Montour. After forcing a three-and-out to start the game, Central Valley (9-3) took over on their own 38 yard line. Three plays later, Foster caught a swing pass from Matt Bradford and raced 15 yards to the endzone, putting the Warriors up 7-0 just 2:44 into the game. Thomas Jefferson answered with a 14-play drive, capped by Mike Wainauskis' 27 yard field goal. But Central Valley went right back to it. Foster's 33-yard kick return set the Warriors up near midfield. Six plays later, Foster wove his way through defenders for a 27-yard touchdown barely a minute into the second. Again, the Jaguars (10-2) answered. Dom Presto found Nick Raimondi behind the secondary and hit him in-stride for a 60-yard score, pulling TJ within 14-10, the closest the game would be the rest of the night. The teams traded defensive stops but when TJ was forced to punt from its' own 18-yard line, Wainauskis dropped the snap, then kicked the ball right into CV's Dillion Trasport who picked it up and ran in for a touchdown, giving the Warriors a 21-10 lead at the half. Opening the second half, again the teams traded stops, CV getting the ball at its' own 20. Foster covered the 80 yards after being stopped cold at the line of scrimmage, then breaking free for the touchdown. Two possessions later, Presto hooked up with Tom Grieves for a 48-yard score. Grieves made a great double move to get open, the juked a defender to get to the endzone, making it 28-17, igniting the TJ faithful. Central Valley got the ball at the 30-yard line. Three plays later, as the third-quarter clock turned to 0:00, Tre Crumpton put out the TJ flame with a 57-yard run up the middle to the house. Raimondi caught a 17-yard pass from Presto with 10:27 left but Central Valley answered with Foster's fourth score, a 15-yard pass on fourth-and-six to close the deal. Foster had 57 yards on three catches, all touchdowns, and ran for 88 yards and another score. Bradford finished 6-of-9 for 113 yards and three scores for the first-year Warriors. For the Jaguars, playing in the WPIAL semifinals for a record 13th-straight year, Presto was 6-of-19 for 184 yards and three touchdowns, his first three completions. Dylan Breisinger ran for 111 yards on nine carries.


WPIAL CLASS AA Semifinals:

Thanks to Ken Laird and Johnny Lee for their help on these recaps!

Aliquippa Quips 26 - Ford City Sabers 7
The Aliquippa Quips punched a ticket to the Class AA WPIAL Finals at Heinz Field for a third straight year, handing the Ford City Sabers their only loss of 2010 with a 26-7 victory at Seneca Valley High School. The Quips improved to 12-0 on the season behind the strength of their defense and the athleticism of their playmakers, scoring twice on fumble returns and twice on electric TD runs. Ford City missed two early opportunities to score, with their offense stalling at the 19-yard line on their first drive of the game as Aliquippa's Davion Hall intercepted a Cody Gispanski pass on 4th-down-and-1. Gispanski intercepted a pass of his own three plays later, but Sabers kicker Andrew Huska pushed a 27-yard field goal attempt wide right and the game remained scoreless. Then, Aliquippa's stars took over. Linebacker Donald McKenzie scooped up a Gispanski fumble and rumbled in for 21-yard TD return to make it 6-0 late in the first quarter. Early in the second, QB Mikal Hall used his speed to get around left end for a 14-yard TD run on 3rd-down-and-4 to make it 12-0. And later in the half, WR Haetaun Mathis took direct snaps on two separate plays for runs of 21 and 23-yards, the latter for a TD in a run that included a forward recovery of his own fumble. At the half, the Sabers trailed 19-0. In the third quarter, the dagger was provided by LB Richard Lowe as he scooped another Gispanski fumble and flew 73-yards to the endzone for a 26-0 margin. Gispanski's late 4-yard TD run capped the scoring and broke the Quips' playoff shutout streak at nearly 12 quarters of football. Both teams were held under 200-yards of total offense. Aliquippa's RB Ben Cobb finished with 20 carries for just 39-yards but was the workhorse in grinding clock late in the game. The Quips top RB Dravon Henry did not play with a lower-body injury.
Aliquippa advances to take on South Fayette for a Class AA Title, a rematch of a 2009 Quarterfinal won 47-34 by the Quips in an upset over the then #1 seed.

South Fayette Lions 55 - Beaver Falls Tigers 28
Friday night at West Allegheny High School the biggest play of the night may have been the pre-game coin toss. The South Fayette Lions won that coin toss, and as you would expect for a team with a high powered offense, elected to receive. From the beginning it would be this high powered offense against the Beaver Falls Tigers defense, the unit that had carried them to this semi-final showdown. It wouldn't take long to find out which side would impose their will. It took exactly 1 minute and 20 seconds for the Lions to go 56 yards in six plays, and before the crowd was settled, Jeff Davis, South Fayette's outstanding running back, was in the end zone after a 26 yd run, as the Lions would go on to a 55-28 win and a spot in the AA finals next Saturday at Heinz Field against the Aliquippa Quips. Following the opening touchdown, South Fayette rolled the dice early, recovering an onside kick, and soon after, the Lion's Christian Brumbaugh would throw the first of his four TD passes, as he found Josh Patterson wide open in the back of the end zone from 15 yards out. After a Beaver Falls 3 and out on their first offensive series of the game, Brumbaugh hooked up with Tyler Challingsworth for a 17 YD touchdown, and the rout was on. Beaver Falls was able to get on the board near the end of the 1st quarter on a 2 Yd run by Devin Cook to make the score 21-7 at the end the opening quarter. But the Beaver Falls Tigers had seen nothing yet. The Second Quarter began with a Brumbaugh to Davis 8 YD touchdown pass. On the ensuing kickoff, SF forced a fumble and Devin Nock returned it 32 Yards for the Lion touchdown. Three minutes later, SF Fullback Trevor Fiorentin scored from 1 yard out and then Brumbaugh found Tyler Challingsworth once again wide open in the end zone and all of a sudden it was 48-7 and the Lions were punching their ticket to Heinz Field. Beaver Falls would show great character and put together an 8 play, 80 yard drive to end the half, as Carlin Henderson found Royce Watson on an end zone fade from 11 yards out. But the 48-14 halftime score was more than indicative of how dominant this South Fayette football team can be. Beaver Falls got the ball to start the second half, but on their third play, SF's Linebacker Eric Myers intercepted Henderson on the BF fifteen yard line and on the very next play, it was Brumbaugh to Davis once again, the Mercy Rule kicked in,and those clad in Green and White began making plans for how they would approach what will undoubtedly be the biggest week in South Fayette football in a very long time.


WPIAL CLASS A Semifinals:

Thanks to Matt Vandriak and Bob Barrickman for thier help on these recaps!

Clairton Bears 26 - Springdale Dynamos 7
The Bears may be located in Clairton, but their second home seems to be Heinz Field. For the third year in a row, Clairton will play for the WPIAL Class-A title after defeating Springdale in the semi-finals at Cougar Mountain Stadium in Herminie. The Bears of 2010 had been one of the most dominating teams in recent WPIAL history coming into this game, averaging 52 points per game on offense and holding opponents to an average of 1.7 points against. Top seeded Clairton, the top ranked team in Pennsylvania, had 8 shutouts in 11 games heading into this game against the 5th seeded Dynamos, and had not allowed a point in the post-season. But Springdale was up for the challenge, as they played the Bears tough throughout the first quarter. The biggest play of the opening frame was the Dynamos defense stopping Clairton on 4th down at the Springdale 1-yard line, and after 12-minutes the game was scoreless. Clairton would get the games first points on their opening drive of the 2nd quarter, as Desimon Green would score on a 1-yard run with 8:14 left in the first half. The two-point conversion failed, and the Bears led 6-0. It looked like that would be the score heading to the half, as Clairton was faced with a 4th and 16 at the Springdale 36 with :15 seconds left in the 2nd quarter. But instead of punting, Clairton tried a deep pass, and the gamble paid off as Trenton Coles pulled in Green's throw in double coverage than touched his feet inside the end zone, giving the Bears a 12-0 lead late just before the break. The miracle play seemed to take away the momentum Springdale had built by playing with the Bears through the first 24-minutes, as Clairton took the 12-0 lead to the locker room. Clairton opened the 2nd half in impressive style. On 3rd down and 16 from their own 40, Green hooked up with Tyler Boyd on a 47-yard pass to set the Bears up inside the Springdale 25. Green would cap the drive with a 5-yard TD run, than hit Bishop Neal on the 2-point conversion pass to give Clairton a 20-0 lead with 7:33 left in the 3rd Quarter. Springdale would get some life on the ensuing kickoff, as Bill Arch returned it to the Clairton 45 and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Bears set the Dynamos up at the Clairton 30. But the Bears defense flexed their muscles, forcing a turnover on downs. On the ensuing Clairton possession, Green would find the end zone again, this time from 1-yard out to put Clairton up 26-0 with 1:41 left in the 3rd Quarter. Arch would score the only points of the 4th quarter, as Springdale became the first playoff team to score against the Bears. His 3-yard TD run with 7:15 left in the game rounded out the scoring. Desimon Green had another strong game for Clairton, accounting for 128 yards in total offense and 4 TD's. Karvonn Coles added 102 yards rushing on 9 carries for the Bears. Springdale was led by QB Joe Killian, who rushed for 99 yards. With the victory, Clairton, the 2-time defending WPIAL champions and defending PIAA champions, won their 27th consecutive game. The Bears are looking to become the first team since Rochester, from 2000-2002, to "three-peat" as Class-A champions. Ironically, Clairton will face Rochester for the title in the opening game of the WPIAL Championships at 9:30am on Saturday. Springdale finishes 2010 at 11-2.

Rochester Rams 20 - Avonworth Antelopes 7
The Rochester Rams were sloppy at times and drew a considerable number of pre-snap penalties but found enough offense to defeat Avonworth Friday night in the Class A semifinal game, 20-7. Devon Glass scored on a 2-yard run late in the first quarter as Rochester went on top, 7-0. Jonathan Johnson kicked a 38-yard field goal to stretch the Rams lead to 10-0. The Antelopes responded on an 82-yard drive as Andrew Niklaus capped it with a 7-yard reception to make it 10-7. But, Rochester responded as running back Nick Tapia caught a 9-yard touchdown pass to put the Rams up 17-7 at the half. Johnson kicked a 30-yard field goal in the fourth quarter for the only score of the second half to put the Rams on top, 20-7. The Antelopes had scoring opportunities throughout but struggled to finish drives. Avonworth had its 10-game winning streak snapped and ended its season at 10-2. Rochester is now 12-0 and will take on the 12-0 Clairton Bears next Saturday at Heinz Field for the WPIAL title. Clairton edged the Rams, 14-13 in last year's title contest.

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