For the second time in three years, the Aliquippa Quips and the South Fayette Lions met at Heinz Field to battle for the WPIAL AA Championship. And for the second time since 2010, the Lions ended the Quips season, as South Fayette captured its fourth WPIAL title defeating Aliquippa 34-28. This battle of (12-0) teams was a tremendous back-and-forth contest between top seeded Aliquippa and the second-seeded Lions.
Aliquippa took advantage of the game’s first turnover as Jyier Turner recovered a Justin Watson fumble to set up the Quips at the South Fayette 36-yard line. Six plays later Terry Swanson scored his 21st touchdown of the season on a nine-yard run and the Quips had the lead. Darrien Fields then found Swanson for the two-point conversion to make the score 8-0. The Lions had the answer two plays and: 45 later when Brett Brumbaugh found Watson all alone behind the Aliquippa secondary for a 68-yard scoring pass. Brian Coyne added the point after and South Fayette trailed 8-7. The back-and-forth first quarter continued on the next drive as Swanson went around right end and scored on a 48-yard run for Aliquippa. Fields ran in the conversion and Aliquippa led 16-7. Back came South Fayette with :41 left in the quarter when Hayden Orler pounced on a Watson fumble in the end zone for the Lions to make the score 16-14 at the end of the first.
South Fayette took its first lead of the game with 8:29 remaining in the second quarter. Coyne capped a 10-play drive by hitting on a 27-yard field goal to puts South Fayette up 17-16. Brumbaugh finished the first half completing 9-of-16 passes for 213-yards and a touchdown. Watson hauled in four of those passes for 105 yards. Swanson paced Aliquippa carrying 17 times for 112 yards. Dravon Henry added 60-yards rushing on 15 carries.
Watson returned the second-half kickoff to the Aliquippa 12-yard line and Coyne added his second 27-yard field goal to up the Lions lead to 20-16. Late in the third quarter, Turner returned a short South Fayette punt 19 yards to set up Aliquippa first-and-goal at the Lions 9-yard line. On third down, Fields somehow snuck a pass through the arms of Roman Denson and into the waiting arms of junior wide receiver Patrick Anderson for a 9-yard touchdown pass. The two-point conversion run failed but Aliquippa regained the lead 22-20. The see-saw affair continued as South Fayette struck back one minute into the fourth quarter. J.J. Walker finished a six-play drive with an 8-yard scoring run. Coyne added the extra point and the Lions were back in front 27-22. The Quips bounced back late in the fourth quarter after the third tremendous catch of the game by Anderson. Swanson did the damage, finding pay dirt from 29-yards out for his third touchdown of the game. The run for two failed, but the Quips regained the lead 28-27 with 4:01 remaining. Brumbaugh led the Lions down the field and Brumbaugh put the Lions in front to stay with 2:48 left when he found Connor Beck near the goal line. Beck stretched the ball across the plain of the goal line before it was knocked loose and South Fayette led 34-28 after the Coyne PAT. On the Quips’ next play from scrimmage, Denson made a one-handed interception of a Fields pass at the 2:32 mark. Aliquippa had one last chance, getting possession back at its own 10-yard line with 1:15 remaining. But Beck picked off Fields to end the threat and South Fayette left Heinz Field with the gold medal.
Both teams combined for 760 yards of offense, as Aliquippa outgained South Fayette 391-369. Brumbaugh finished the game 16-of-35 passing for 315 yards, two scores and an interception. Watson ended with six receptions for 130 yards and Beck snagged five balls for 112 yards. Swanson ended his stellar career at Aliquippa with 26 carries and 166 yards and three touchdowns.
Aliquippa was appearing in the AA championship game for the sixth consecutive season and the loss snapped the Quips championship run at two straight. South Fayette moves onto to the PIAA Playoffs to face District 9 champion Karns City.
South Fayette 14 – 3 – 3 – 14
Aliquippa 16 – 0 – 6 – 6
(3:49) Aliquippa – Terry Swanson 9-Yard Run (Swanson pass from Darrien Fields)
(3:05) South Fayette – Justin Watson 68-Yard Pass from Brett Brumbaugh (Brian Coyne Kick)
(1:26) Aliquippa – Swanson 48-Yard Run (Fields Run)
(:41) South Fayette – Hayden Orler Fumble Recovery in the End-Zone (Coyne Kick)
(8:29) South Fayette – Coyne 27-Yard Field Goal
(11:03) South Fayette – Coyne 27-Yard Field Goal
(1:18) Aliquippa – Patrick Anderson 9-Yard Pass from Fields (Run Failed)
(11:00) – South Fayette – J.J. Walker 8-Yard Run (Coyne Kick)
(4:01) – Aliquippa – Swanson 29-Yard Run (Run Failed)
(2:48) – South Fayette – Connor Beck 19-Yard Pass from Brumbaugh (Coyne Kick)