WPIAL Football Semifinals Recaps

A Look Back at All 8 Semifinals Games
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Teams that lose in the WPIAL finals at least take with them the memories of playing on the grand stage of Heinz Field. However the toughest cut of all though is a loss in the Semifinals. Your season comes to a screeching halt as championship dreams are smashed in being forced to take the final exit on the Highway to Heinz. Here are recaps from all eight games on Final Four Friday in the District 7 postseason.

A special thanks to Matt Vandriak, Bob Orkwis, Sam Hall, Jim Frederick, Lou Rood, Josh Rowntree, Mark Schaas and Adam Hoerner for their great help on these recaps.

WPIAL CLASS AAAA Semifinals:

North Allegheny Tigers 47 - Seneca Valley Raiders 17
In the fast food world, its always been the Big Mac versus the Whopper for burger superiority.  But in the WPIAL, this "Big Mack" had a "Whopper" of a game, as North Allegheny's WPIAL superiority continued behind QB Mack Leftwich. North Allegheny used a 26-point 2nd quarter to extend their winning streak against WPIAL teams to 29 games, with Leftwich contributing to all 7 Tigers touchdowns, while racking up nearly 500 yards in total offense himself.  It didn't take the defending WPIAL champions long to strike.  On the first offensive play of the game, Leftwich found Elijah Zeise for a 64-yard touchdown to put NA up 7-0 just :12 seconds into the contest.  Seneca Valley would answer later in the opening quarter, with Chad Izenas capped off a 9 play, 57 yard drive with a 24-yard field goal to make the score 7-3, which is the way the quarter would finish.  In the 2nd quarter it was all Tigers, as NA would score on their first four offensive drives. Like the 1st quarter, NA scored on the 1st play again, as Skylar Cox hauled in a 9-yard TD pass from Leftwich, capping off a 12 play, 77 yard drive that extended from the opening quarter.  After Jason Buchert's PAT, it was 14-3 NA just :11 seconds into the period.  On the next Tigers drive Leftwich found Gregg Garrity on a 27-yard strike, putting NA up 21-3 with 6:39 left in the 2nd quarter.  On the first play of the Tigers next drive, it was big play time again as Leftwich found Zeise on a 63-yard scoring pass to put NA up 27-3 with 5:52 left in the half.  Leftwich would cap the fourth consecutive NA scoring drive with a 14-yard TD run, giving the Tigers a 33-3 lead with 2:06 left in the quarter.  On the ensuing drive, Seneca Valley was able to finally get an answer, as QB Jordan Brown broke a 57-yard TD run, cutting the lead to 33-10 with 1:22 left.  That score would remain, as the teams headed to the locker rooms with NA up by 23.  After forcing a Tigers turnover on downs at the Raiders 12-yard line, Seneca Valley would go the other way as Jon Dorogy made a beautiful diving catch of Brown's 4-yard pass, capping off the 8 play, 88 yard drive and cutting the NA lead to 33-17 with 2:59 left in 3rd quarter.  But in the 4th quarter, the Tigers took over again.  Leftwich's 2nd rushing TD of the night, this from 8-yards on the next NA possession, put the Tigers up 40-17 with 8:51 left in the 4th.  Leftwich finished off the scoring by throwing his 5th TD pass of the night, a 9-yarder to Cox with 1:30 left in regulation, making the score 47-17.  After the game some heated words were exchanged between Raiders coach Don Holl and Tigers coach Art Walker.  Holl was upset with Walker for throwing on 4th and goal on NA's final scoring drive.  The two had to be seperated by assistant coaches.  But perhaps frustration was part of it for Holl as well, because the victory was NA's 12th in a row over Seneca Valley, and the 2nd win over their conference rival this season.  NA won the regular season matchup in September 45-3.  Leftwich had one of the finest nights of his high school career, as well as one of the finest nights of any individual player in this year’s WPIAL playoffs.  He finished the game 18 of 23 passing for 360-yards and 5-TD's.  Leftwich also rushed for 92 yards and two more scores.  Zeise had the two scoring catches for 127-yards, while TE Zach Lyon had five grabs for 120 yards.  Garrity finished with 6 catches for 83-yards and a score.  Much like the regular season matchup, the Tigers defense shut down the Raiders offensive stars.  Brown had a good night statistically for the Raiders, finishing with 254 total yards (166 pass/88 rush) and two TD's (1 pass/1 rush).  RB Forrest Barnes, who had over 1,600 yards rushing coming in, was held to 45 yards.  In the two games versus NA, Barnes rushed for a combined 60 yards.  Leading receiver Jon Dorogy, who was averaging 18 yards per catch,  was held to just 14 yards on three receptions.  North Allegheny (12-0) will now have a to make history by becoming the first Quad-A team to win three consecutive WPIAL championships, and to extend their "Western PA Winning Streak" to 30-games.  NA's last loss to a WPIAL foe was October 29th, 2010 in the season finale against North Hills.  Seneca Valley finished their best season in a long time with a final record of 10-2.  Despite the loss, this was a very successful and memorable season for the Raiders.  For the first time since 1995, Seneca Valley won 10-games, and made the Semi-Finals for the first time since 1997.  Their first round win over Hempfield was also Seneca Valley's first playoff win since 2002.  Standing in the way of North Allegheny's championship three-peat will be the Woodland Hills Wolverines, who are no strangers to Heinz Field in November.  The Quad-A battle will be the 2nd game of the day on Championship Friday, with a 2pm scheduled kickoff.

Woodland Hills Wolverines 42 - Upper St. Clair Panthers 20 
The Wolverines capitalized on some early Upper St. Clair turnovers and a big special team’s miscue to take a 21-0 first quarter lead and Woodland Hills would never relinquish that lead on their way to the win at Baldwin High School. Upper St. Clair's Steve Mackowick fumbled the game’s opening kickoff and Dontae Broadus recovered at the USC 14-yard line. DeQuan White turned that fumble into a 1-yard touchdown run. On the ensuing drive, Upper St. Clair set up to punt but the snap was lowed and bounced between punter Tim Witenske’s legs. Witenske was tackled at the five-yard line. Two plays later, Alex Beasley scored on a three-yard run and Woodland Hills led 14-0. Later in the first quarter, Macowick would fumble again and the Wolverines Chris David would recover. Sophomore Art Thompkins would make that turnover hurt by bursting into the end zone from o give 25-yards to give Woodland Hills a 21-0 lead with 1:38 left in the 1st quarter. Upper St. Clair scored twice in 2:38 span late in the second quarter to make a game of it. Pete Coughlin hit Morgan Lee on a crossing pattern. Lee shrugged off the tackle attempt by David who was injured on the play and scampered 59-yards to make it 21-7. Joe Repischak would recover a Wolverines fumble on the ensuing kickoff and Coughlin would find Mackowick with a 20-yard scoring pass to make the score 21-14 Woodland Hills at halftime. But Woodland Hills senior quarterback Cody McClelland, who was 0-for-1 passing in the first half, started the third quarter by hitting 4-of-5 passes including a 31-yard touchdown pass to Khalil Harper and Woodland Hills led 28-14. Upper St. Clair would back Woodland Hills inside it’s ten-yard line early in the 4th quarter, but McClelland found senior wide-receiver Tom Greene on an 80-yard catch and run that set up the Wolverines inside the Panthers 20-yard line, Those two would cap the drive with an 8-yard TD pass as Woodland Hills opened up a 35-14 lead. Trevon Mathis, who earlier had an interception in the end zone to thwart a Panthers drive, intercepted Coughlin for the fourth time and returned 50-yards for the final Woodland Hills touchdown. The 3rs seeded Panthers, who last week capitalized on five Central Catholic turnovers in a quarterfinal win, saw their 2012 season end at (10-2). McClelland finished 8-of-13 for 156-yards and two touchdowns, while Greene led both teams with five receptions for 120-yards and also had one of the interceptions for Woodland Hills. Seventh seeded Woodland Hills (10-2) will play North Allegheny in the WPIAL title game at 2 P.M. next Friday at Heinz Field. The championship marks the ninth overall trip to the WPIAL finals for the Wolverines and it is their 3rd trip to Heinz Field in four years. The Wolverines quest for their sixth WPIAL championship is a rematch of the 2012 WPIAL AAAA a title game in won by the Tigers 21-14. 

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WPIAL CLASS AAA Semifinals:

West Allegheny Indians 24 - Thomas Jefferson Jaguars 7
The West Allegheny Indians defeated the Thomas Jefferson Jaguars 24-7 in a AAA semi final Friday night at Bethel Park high school to advance to the WPIAL AAA championship game at Heinz Field next Friday night. West Allegheny reached the finals the same way they have gone through the entire season, with a smothering opportunistic defense and a punishing ground game. The Indians forced four Thomas Jefferson turnovers on the evening including a strip sack by Zach Medved of TJ quarterback Joe Carroll  on the very first play from scrimmage to set up the Indians first and goal at the Thomas Jefferson seven yard line. Three plays later the Indians took a 7-0 lead as Nick Halbedl plunged in from one yard out to give West A an early lead. In what was a defensive struggle all night long the score remained 7-0 until midway through the second quarter when Joe Carroll hooked up with his favorite receiver Zach Schademan from 47 yards out and just like that we were tied at 7-7. West Allegheny though would answer back immediately after a solid return of the ensuing kickoff set them up nera mid field. Sophomore quarterback Andrew Koester hit Medved with a 56 yard strike in the middle of the football field and the Indians were right back on top 14-7. West Allegheny would strike again right before the half as Halbedl got his second touchdown of the evening again from one yard out with :52 seconds remaining in the half and the Indians went to the break leading 21-7. From there they put it in the hands of that fabulous Bob Palko defense. Twice in the third quarter West Allegheny stopped what looked to be promising Thomas Jefferson drives with interceptions. One by Armand Dellovade inside his own 25 and another in his own end zone from Lewis Walls. Evan Pelcher would add a 41 yard field goal late to cap the scoring at 24-7 with the help of a fabulous play by his holder Jed Buck who literally had to get up off his kneee to catch a high snap and somehow got it back down and in place for Pelcher to pound it through. The numbers tell the story Carroll entered the game with over 2200 yards passing which put him in the top five in the WPIAL. The Indian defense held him to 10 of 32 passing for 160 yards one touchdown and two interceptions. The Indians also shut down the Jags' running game completely holding leading rusher Jake Farrell to 31 yards on 13 carries. Koester for the Indians completed four of seven passes for 124 yards and a touchdown. West Allegheny goes for their sixth WPIAL championship when they play the West Mifflin Titans Friday night at Heinz Field on the MSA Sports Network.  

West Mifflin Titans 36 - Central Valley Warriors 35 in Overtime
The WPIAL Class AAA semi-final between Central Valley and West Mifflin had been forecast to be a thrilling, high-scoring affair. After all, both teams came into the matchup sporting gaudy offensive numbers and game-altering players. In the end, Titans Quarterback Derrick Fulmore was the difference-maker as he scored on a 10-yard run in OT and tacked on a 2 point conversion as West Mifflin eliminated 3rd Seed Central Valley 36-35. The contest started off with a bang as Diallo Mitchell returned the opening kickoff 82 yards to put West Mifflin off and running at 7-0.  But Central Valley was persistent in forcing ties at 7, 14 and 21 before jumping ahead on a 61-yard kickoff return by Rob Foster to take a 28-21 lead at the start of the 3rd quarter. That is the way the game would stay until 7-39 to go in regulation as West Mifflin charged in on a 15-play, 80 yard drive and a Fulmer 2 yard dive on 4th down to tie the classic at 28. C-V nearly won in overtime after calling a timeout with 2 seconds to go at its 40 yard line.  On 4th down, the Warriors tried a lateral play that nearly produced the game winning score.  Quarterback John George got the ball to Foster and he proceeded to zig-and-zag his way toward the end zone before DiAngelo Mitchell made a game-saving tackle at the WM 15. To the extra period the teams went with Foster scoring on a 5 yard run to make the score 35-28 with West Mifflin getting a chance to tie or win. Fulmer's 10 yard scamper off left tackle brought the Titans back to within 35-34 with the extra point pending.  However, Central Valley was called for encroachment and West Mifflin Coach Ray Braszo decided to go for the win.  Fulmer tried left tackle again and dialed up the game-winner on the 2 point conversion. Fulmer and tailback Jimmy Wheeler produced quite the 1-2 punch as the quarterback had 156  yards on the ground while Wheeler had 144. Foster, who scored 3 touchdowns, rushed for 138 in his final high school game. Each team committed 1 turnover which did not result in any scoring. Central Valley finishes 9-3 with all 3 losses by 1 point each and two in overtime. 11-1 West Mifflin will play match wits with another Parkway Conference foe, 11-1 West Allegheny in the WPIAL AAA Final on Friday at Heinz Field.

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WPIAL CLASS AA Semifinals:

Aliquippa Quips 56 - Jeannette Jayhawks 0 
The Aliquippa Quips defeated the Jeanette Jayhawks 56-0 to advance to their 5th straight WPIAL Class AA Championship Game at Heinz Field.  The game was dominated by the Quips from the outset as they took the opening kickoff and drove to the Jeanette 10 yard line in 7 plays before fumbling on a bad QB-C exchange.  Jeanette recovered but the Quip defense forced a 3 and out punt and Aliquippa was on the march again.  This time Jeanette was able to force the Quips to turn the ball over on downs at the Jayhawk 37 yard line, but again was forced to punt after 3 plays by the stiff Quip defense.  Aliquippa started their third drive from their own 22 late in the 1st Quarter and proceeded to march down the field with a 12 play drive that culminated with a Devon Walker 12 yard TD run to put the Quips up 6-0 at the 7:51 mark of the 2nd quarter.  Terry Swanson ran it in for the 2 point conversion and Aliquippa led 8-0. For a game that was scoreless through the 1st Quarter and 4:09 of the second, the dam burst in the final minutes of the first half.  Jeanette after receiving the kickoff proceeded to fumble at their own 17 yard line on their 2nd play of the drive which led to a Malik Shegog 13 yard TD run at the 6:00 minute mark of the second.  Less than a minute later the Jayhawks fumbled again this time at their own 35 yard line which led to a Dravon Henry 35 yard TD burst.  Swanson again ran in the 2 point conversion and the Quips were now on top 22-0.  But Jeanette’s bad breaks continued as they fumbled yet again, for the third time of the half at their own 36 and this led to a Shegog 30 yard TD run which made it 28-0 with 3:21 left in the half.  It looked as though the Jayhawks might escape without further damage, but again were forced to punt and the Quips were able to drive it from their own 35 yard line to the end zone scoring on a Swanson 12 yard TD run.  With Henry’s 2 point conversion the score became 36-0 with 16 seconds remaining in the half.  That meant that Aliquippa exploded for 36 points in the last 7:51 of the first half, helped generously by 3 key Jeanette turnovers.  The Quips outgained the Jayhawks 310 to 12 in the first half including 291 yards total rushing: Henry-158, Swanson-60, Shegog-59, and Walker-14.  Jeanette with 12 total yards did not register a 1st down in the half. Jeanette’s first drive in the 3rd quarter ended quickly with an interception by the Quips which led to a Khalil Seaburn 5 yard TD run making it 42-0 with 8:05 to go in the 3rd quarter.  Jeanette continued the turnover parade in the 4th quarter which led to 2 more scores from Aliquippa subs Kaezon Pugh and Robert Gilbert.  To show how the night went for both the Quips and the Jayhawks, a bad snap on the attempted extra point after Gilbert’s TD was picked up by the Quip kicker and run into the end zone for the final 2 points of the game making it 56-0.  Aliquippa remains undefeated and will face the Washington Little Prexies at Heinz field next Friday at 5 PM.  Jeanette finishes the year at 10-2.
 

Washington Little Prexies 26 - South Fayette Lions 14
As if Shai McKenzie had not done enough already. The Junior, who came into the Semifinals as the leading rusher in the WPIAL, popped off a performance of a lifetime, rushing for 291 yards and 4 touchdowns on 42 carries, leading #3 Washington (12-0) to a 26-14 win over #2 South Fayette (11-1) on Friday night at Chartiers Valley High School. Combating the Little Prexies all night was the WPIAL’s leading passer, South Fayette’s Brett Brumbaugh. But things started off in a bad was for the sophomore, as he was intercepted on the game’s first play from scrimmage. Washington would strike first, as McKenzie would score from eight yards out, making it 7-0 Washington after one quarter. The second quarter brought a flurry of scoring. After McKenzie would push the lead to 14-0 on a 58-yard scamper, Brett Brumbaugh would lead a quick drive down the field, capping it off with a 1-yard QB sneak, cutting the Washington lead to 14-7. He would follow it up just 6 minutes later, hitting Zach Challingsworth for a 23-yard touchdown, tying the game at 14-14 at the half. But the second half was all Washington. McKenzie would rip off a 56-yard run and, after a missed 2-point conversion, the Little Prexies were up 20-14.But the ensuing possession is when the game turned for the worst for South Fayette. After leading a drive down the field, the Lions would be turned away on 4th down at the Washington 3-yard line. McKenzie would make them pay, going in from 7 yards out on the following drive and sealing the 26-14 win for the Little Prexies, who make the WPIAL Championship game for the first time since 2001, when they won it and the PIAA Championship. Brumbaugh finished 11-for-27 for 238 yards, throwing a touchdown and two interceptions. The bad news for Brumbaugh was that he finished the game 1-for-8 for 18 yards and an interception. The possession statistics were heavily in favor of Washington, as they won the first down battle 26-9, were 12/18 on 3rd down and ran 81 plays (including 74 rushing plays) to South Fayette’s 42. Washington outgained South Fayette 511-293 in the contest. The Little Prexies will now move to the WPIAL Championship next Friday at 5PM, where they will meet defending Champion and top-seeded Aliquippa

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WPIAL CLASS A Semifinals:

Clairton Bears 37 - Neshannock Lancers 7
The Clairton Bears won their 59th consecutive game, defeated the Neshannock Lancers to return to Heinz Field. The win tied the Pennsylvania high school record for consecutive wins, also held by Central Bucks West. The Bears will meet Sto-Rox in the title game, a rematch of last year's game. Clairton will look for their 5th straight WPIAL title, that feat has only been accomplished one other time as Braddock won 5 consecutive titles from 1955-59. Clairton racked up 499 yards of offense in the win and 20 first downs. Tyler Boyd scored a first quarter touchdown, giving him 107 for his career, 3 shy of the WPIAL record, set by Rushel Shell last season. Boyd gained 126 yards on 17 carries, he had only 4 carries in the second half. Coach Tom Nola said Boyd was banged up a little bit. Boyd moves into 11th place on the all-time WPIAL rushing list, passing Connellsville's Marcus Furman, Jason Murray of Belle Vernon and Keith Miller of Beth-Center. Boyd scored the opening tochdown on a 6 yard run. Clairton took a 12-0 on the opening play of the second quarter on an Armani Ford 7 yard touchdown pass to Terrish Webb. Ford hit Titus Howard, who made a diving catch for a 20 yard touchdown, Boyd tossed a 2-pointer to Webb for a 20-0 advantage. The Clairton defense did not allow Neshannock past the Bears 35 yard line. Neshannock scored their only touchdown on a 50 yard bomb from Ernie Burkes to Alex Welker with 2:20 left in the half. But the Bears answered 36 seconds later on a Ford 12 yard pass to Santeaun Sims and a 26-7 lead at the half. The Bears forced to punt twice in the second half, but Boyd nailed the Lancers deep in their own territory at the 2 yard line. On the next play, Kienan Owens was tackled in the end zone for a safety. Clairton added a touchdown late in the quarter on a Ford 13 yard pass to Webb. The Bears kicked a 4th quarter field goal, Bryon Clifford hitting from 30 yards out with some help from the crossbar. Ford threw for 179 yards on 10-17. Clifford ran for 129 yards on 7 carries. The Bears had 7 different plays run the football and 7 receivers caught passes. Robert Boatright picked off a pass and recovered a fumble for the defense. The Bears are 12-0 overall. Neshannock was held to 176 yards of offense, 36 in the second half. Eli Owens ran 12 times for 92 yards. Burkes was 4-12 for 65 yards, he was picked off 3 times, the Lancers had 4 turnovers on the night. The Lancers end the season at 10-2.

Sto-Rox Vikings 34 - North Catholic Trojans 20
It was a tale of two halves at Dormont Stadium on Friday night, and the star players of Sto-Rox and North Catholic were both heard from. In the end, though, it was Lenny Williams doubling up P.J. Fulmore's touchdown total, leading the Vikings to a 34-20 victory and a rematch with Clairton next Friday at Heinz Field. The first quarter saw no scoring, and most of the second was the same until Adam Sharlow found Ronnie Meder for a 19-yard touchdown pass with 4:43 to go. A missed extra point left the score 6-0 Trojans, and Williams made them pay with a 10-yard strike to Wendall Miller with 29 seconds remaining until halftime with Elisha Bonner tacking on the kick for a 7-6 advantage. Business picked up in third, and it started early after Jaron Allen intercepted a Sharlow pass on the opening drive. Williams would take it from there with a 16-yard jaunt and a 14-6 lead. Fulmore finally got on the board just 2:32 later with an eight-yard plunge into the end zone, but a failed conversion kept the score 14-12. Brendan Blair had Sto-Rox back on the board a mere 1:40 later with a five-yarder, and Bonner tacked on the game-winning point. The biggest play of the game arrived with 1:30 remaining as Williams found Ben Shackelford for 73 yards and a 27-12 lead entering the fourth quarter. Fulmore gave North Catholic some hope with a four-yard touchdown and the conversion run with 9:57 still to play, but Williams capped the ensuing possession with a five-yard scamper to seal the victory. Fulmore ended the night and his season with 205 yards on 35 carries. As for Williams, he completed 12 out of 18 passes for 184 yards along with 90 rushing yards on 13 attempts. Shackelford finished with eight catches for 152 yards.

 

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