Beaver Falls races past Sto-Rox to win fifth WPIAL championship

Saturday, November 14, 2020 | 7:40 PM

Beaver Falls used its vast array of weapons Saturday to secure its fifth WPIAL football title.

Josh Hough and Trey Singleton each ran for over 100 yards and the Tigers defense turned a pair of turnovers into scores as Beaver Falls came away with a 43-30 victory over Sto-Rox in the Class 2A finals at North Hills’ Martorelli Stadium.

The top-seeded Tigers rolled out to a 36-0 lead before Sto-Rox had a flurry of scoring activity late in the game.

It was the second Beaver Falls championship in the last five seasons and a long rise from a 1-9 team in 2017.

“We were a physical team all season long, and we came here tonight to prove that we are a physical team, and we did that,” said Tigers coach Nick Nardone. “The final score wasn’t any indication of the game. If we keep our pedal on the gas the whole game, it wasn’t even like that. We out-physicaled them, we out-skilled them, and thought we were better than them in every facet of the game.”

Beaver Falls (10-0) will now play Wilmington in the PIAA semifinals next weekend, possibly at Geneva College’s Reeves Stadium.

Sto-Rox, the No. 3 seed in the tournament, concluded the season at 8-2. The Vikings have come up short in the title games five times in the last nine seasons.

Sto-Rox made some early mistakes, including several pre-snap penalties, that led to a 28-0 halftime deficit.

“We couldn’t get started early,” Vikings coach LaRoi Johnson said. “We didn’t get the running game going. We stopped them early, but the mistakes finally caught up to us.”

An interception by Tyler Cain ended Sto-Rox’s first possession. And the Tigers, using a wildcat formation exclusively in the first period, drove 74 yards in 11 plays. Hough, a Syracuse recruit, ran through the middle for 20 yards to open the scoring.

Shaliek Livingston went over the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season on a 2-yard run to put the Tigers in front, 14-0, with 6 minutes, 31 seconds left in the second quarter.

After Sto-Rox lost the ball on downs, Quadir Thomas got behind the Vikings secondary and took a pass from Jaren Brickner 69 yards for a score. Beaver Falls concluded the first half scoring on an 18-yard run by Hough to go in front, 28-0, with 49 seconds to go.

Sto-Rox was limited to minus-8 rushing yards in the first half, and Beaver Falls tried only three passes.

Said Nardone: “We’re going to run the ball at you until you show you can stop it. A lot of people think our team is just Shaliek and Josh, and those are tremendous backs who can do great things, but if we need Thomas to run a deep pattern or Singleton and Mekhi Clark to run some jet sweeps, we have athletes all over the field.”

Clark’s 6-yard run, his only carry of the day, put the Tigers ahead, 36-0.

“I thought we started out good and came out fast and physical,” Singleton said. “I’ll run out of the wildcat or any formation.”

Sto-Rox finally got on the scoreboard with a 39-yard pass from Josh Jenkins to Jaymont Green-Miller. Five plays later, Emir Short raced 56 yards with a pass interception to make it 36-15.

Makhy Upshaw recovered the first of two onside kicks, but Sto-Rox lost the ball on downs.

Brickner’s 2-yard keeper ended the Beaver Falls scoring.

Sto-Rox capped the game with a sneak by Jenkins and a 65-yard pass by Jenkins to Zay Davis to make the score 43-30.

The Vikings were seeking the third title in school history but ended up with their sixth title-game loss.

“This (result) definitely hurts a little bit,” Johnson said. “We know how special we can be. This game doesn’t represent who we were.”

“If that game doesn’t come down to onside kicks and throwing touchdown passes against our second team, that game’s nowhere near where it was,” Nardone said. “We were good until then when we showed some anxiety.”

Jenkins finished the season with 1,427 yards after his 177-yard performance Saturday.

Hough now 1,920 yards on the season and 4,250 yards and 53 touchdowns on his career.

Besides the two recent titles, Beaver Falls also won WPIAL championships in 1928, ’60 an ’84.

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