Aliquippa tops South Park to reach 12th WPIAL title game in row

Friday, November 8, 2019 | 11:04 PM

There are a few certainties in life: death, taxes and Aliquippa appearances in the WPIAL championship game.

For the 12th consecutive year, Aliquippa (11-1) advanced to play for a WPIAL football title, this time by defeating South Park, 21-7, in the Class 3A semifinals at Martorelli Stadium. The Quips will be in search of their 18th WPIAL championship next Saturday at Heinz Field.

It didn’t take long for Aliquippa to jump on the Eagles.

After winning the coin toss and deferring possession to the second half, Aliquippa recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff. On the second play from scrimmage, Vernon Redd dashed 33 yards to the end zone just 18 seconds into the game. Redd ran off tackle to score his 14th touchdown of the season.

Redd finished with 79 yards rushing on 21 carries.

South Park struggled to get anything moving offensively with 66 yards of total offense in the first half.

The Quips got good field position once again after senior Michael Dawkins partially blocked a South Park punt.

Aliquippa quarterback Vaughn Morris connected with Penn State recruit Zuriah Fisher on a 10-yard slant pass to score with 4:31 left in the opening quarter. The touchdown came on fourth-and-5 and was the second fourth-down conversion of the drive. Morris threw to Isaiah Towler for the 2-point conversion and a 14-0 lead.

After that, South Park’s defense stiffened for most of the second quarter. It limited the Quips to 216 total yards for the game, well under their average.

“The defense has played well all year,” Eagles coach Marty Rieck said. “We’ve faced the best of the best, and I’m proud of the way they fought tonight.”

Aliquippa extended its lead late in the first half after another South Park turnover. As South Park was driving, senior quarterback Steven Kmonk was intercepted by Dewayne Revis, who returned the ball to the Eagles 48-yard line.

After a South Park personal foul, the Quips took over at the 33 with 1:14 left in the half. Four plays later, Morris hit Soloman Chinua in the corner of the end zone with 13 seconds left to extend the lead to 21-0.

“It’s playoff football, and when you make mistakes and turn the ball over, you have to expect the other team is going to take advantage of it, and Aliquippa did that tonight,” Rieck said.

Aliquippa coach Mike Warfield liked what he saw from his defense and special teams but wants to see more from his offense.

“Getting those two first-half turnovers was big to help set the tone for us,” he said. “Our offense played well, but we need to clean up our mistakes, namely penalties that stalled out some of our drives.”

South Park scored the only touchdown of the second half on a 1-yard run by Rudy Mihoces with 7:23 left in the fourth quarter. Mihoces finished with 84 yards on 24 carries.

But it was too little, too late for the Eagles (5-6).

Aliquippa will face Central Valley in the WPIAL Class 3A championship, a rematch of Central Valley’s 45-6 Week 9 win.

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