Last Friday, the 1A and 2A classifications featured quarterfinals games, while 3A – 6A teams played in semifinals tilts. When the final whistle sounded, eight teams punched their tickets to Heinz Field for WPIAL championship contests, while another eight took a step closer on the road to RMU. Among the matchups, a battle between historic programs in 1A was decided by a score in the final minute, a rematch of a classic semifinals bout in 5A had a different result, the 3A frontrunner used a late run to avoid an upset bid, and a big defensive play sealed a shocker in 4A. Without further ado, here are the very best plays from Week Eleven.
1. Jeannette 30, Rochester 26
The third-seeded Jayhawks struggled for most of the contest against the Rams, prompting a change at QB in the second half. Upon relieving Robert Kennedy, Seth Howard sparked the Jeannette comeback. The Jayhawks faced a fourth down late in the contest, and Howard responded by connecting with Isaiah Winters on the winning 29-yard score.
WBVP-AM 1230’s Bob Barrickman and Jason Colangelo detail the Jayhawks’ late score that keep their championship hopes alive:
2. Gateway 28, McKeesport 21
Last year in the semifinals, the Gators were just one play away from prevailing against the Tigers and going to the championship. A miraculous hook-and-lateral play won McKeesport the game at the buzzer, though. This year, the teams met again in the semis, but this time, it was the Gators who used some late heroics. Trailing by one point with less than three minutes left, the Gators turned to freshman running back Derrick Davis. Davis powered his way into the end zone on an 18-yard run, and the Gators’ defense made the lead stand.
The Trib Live High School Sports Networks’ Matt Vandriak and Josh Rowntree have the call, while Chelsea Rowntree provides the videography as the Gators gained redemption:
3. Aliquippa 14, Beaver Area 7
The Quips playing at Heinz Field for a WPIAL title feels like an annual tradition, but that was very much in jeopardy in the 3A semifinals. The top-seeded Quips trailed Beaver 7-6 in the fourth after the Bobcats scored a rare touchdown against the Aliquippa defense. That same D forced a turnover, however, and then the Quips notched the eventual winning touchdown, courtesy of Xavier Harvey.
WMBA-AM 1460’s Tom Hays and Bruce Frey provide the audio of Harvey’s 22-yard score with less than five minutes left:
4. Montour 35, South Fayette 27
The Lions easily handled the Spartans in the regular season, but the rematch would be quite a contrast. South Fayette started strong once again, but this time, Montour mounted a fourth-quarter comeback to prevail. A pair of interceptions in the final frame proved crucial, with the first pick setting up Brandon Lipford to score the go-ahead points. With Montour clinging to a 28-27 edge late in the contest, the Lions drove into Spartans’ territory. Lipford came up big again, however, intercepting QB Drew Saxton and returning the ball to the South Fayette 5-yard line, which immediately led to a touchdown.
The Trib Live High School Sports Networks’ Sam Hall and Steve Nagler have the call of Lipford’s decisive play that propelled the Spartans to the 4A Championship game: