Despite some anxious 2nd-half moments, Aliquippa puts away Montour

Saturday, September 16, 2023 | 12:04 AM

A pair of undefeated teams squared off in a pivotal Class 4A Parkway Conference matchup when Aliquippa took on Montour on Friday night at the new Heinz Field.

The Quips went on to win 42-18, but there were some interesting moments in the second half.

Aliquippa started the game with a pair of drives that ended in a Tiqwai Hayes rushing touchdown.

Aliquippa held a commanding 22-point lead at one point, 28-6, but Montour hung around and scored 12 unanswered points from the late second quarter into the third.

The Quips committed 18 penalties throughout the game and the Spartans often capitalized, inching them back into contention.

The Spartans scored late in the second on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Jake Wolfe to Kaleb Platz. Wolfe found Platz yet again on their first drive in the third quarter, cutting the lead to 10 at 28-18.

Nonetheless, the Quips pulled away on their next drive on a 4-yard touchdown run by John Tracy.

After a missed field goal by the Spartans, the Quips took full control of momentum and scored a game-closing touchdown, accounting for the 42-18 final score.

Aliquippa was led by quarterback Quentin Goode and wide receiver Brandon Banks. Goode found Banks on a third-and-13 play, which set up the Tracy rushing touchdown to make it 34-18.

Goode completed 16 of 20 passes for 260 yards and two touchdowns. Banks finished with six receptions for 106 yards.

Banks talked about his chemistry with his quarterback.

“He’s been throwing to me since we were kids, 5 years old, and it just came up whenever we got older and stuff,” Banks said. “Through the first few games, I wasn’t making enough plays for our team and our head coach, he just pulled me aside and was talking to me. I noticed I had to come out and make plays, so that’s what I tried to do.”

Banks also played a role on defense. The Quips turned the Spartans over via interception twice. Banks had a huge pick in the first quarter to extend Aliquippa’s early lead.

“I watched film on (Montour’s) Daniel Batch, and he’s decent receiver receiver,” Banks said. “They told me I was going to be following him, so it was getting into my toolbox, looking to see what he does and his releases and his routes and stuff. I think we only held them to two catches, so I think I did a good job.”

Goode said it felt good to be dialed in the whole game.

“The past two weeks, we really haven’t been where we were supposed to be,” Goode said. “My brother (Qa’lil) told me to start off with some little easy stuff to get me in a rhythm and that is just what I did.”

The Quips accumulated yards on the ground too. Hayes spearheaded the offense with three rushing touchdowns and 93 yards on 21 carries. Tracy finished with 71 yards on 12 carriesand a touchdown.

Aliquippa throwing the first punch gave the Quips room for error.

Hayes scored on a 1-yard run less than five minutes into the first quarter. Goode scrambled out of trouble and threw a dime to Demarkus Walker for a 21-yard completion for a first down to set up the score.

After a Banks interception, Hayes scored on another 1-yard run. Goode found Walker on a fade route on the 2-point conversion to make it 14-0.

The Spartans answered quickly. Wolfe connected with Batch for a 34-yard pass into the Aliquippa red zone. Caden Halajcio ran in the Spartans first touchdown from 8 yards out.

The Quips responded with a lengthy drive that took up close to half the second quarter and ended with another Hayes touchdown, this time from 3 yards out.

Aliquippa quickly another score on a 45-yard touchdown pass from Goode to Mike Gaskins to make it 28-6.

The Spartans then made their way into Aliquippa territory. Wolfe seemingly found Batch in the end zone, but as he was coming down with it, Arison Walker stripped the ball away for an interception with a little under two minutes left in the half.

Wolfe found Kaleb Platz on an 8-yard touchdown pass before halftime to make it 28-12 at the break.

In the third quarter, after an 11-yard touchdown pass from Wolfe to Platz, it was 28-18.

The Quips strung together a long drive and got the ball to the Montour 19. Goode threw a dart to Banks for a 15-yard gain on third-and-13, putting them at the 4. Tracy ran in the score on the next play, increasing their lead 34-18.

Aliquippa added a final touchdown on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Goode to Demarkus Walker to make it 42-18.

Despite pulling away late, Aliquippa coach Mike Warfield wasn’t pleased with the penalties his team took.

“I think the penalties just crushed us,” Warfield said. “Their touchdown drives were because of penalties, so we’ve got to get better at that. I mean we can’t be up and down. … We just have to play football. I was disappointed in how we reacted with them and so you’ve just got to go to the next-play mentality and those things are going to happen. You’ve just got to react to them, and we didn’t react well early, but we got better.”

Warfield was especially pleased with the team’s receivers.

“We challenged our guys on Monday, especially our wideouts,” Warfield said. “I didn’t think they were making enough plays for Quentin, and they met that challenge today. I was pleased to see that. I really was on them about it because I know they’re better than that. And if we want to go to where we’re trying to get to, they’ve got to play like they did tonight.”

Banks was the leading receiver, but Walker also had a game, finishing with 61 yards receiving on four receptions.

For Montour, Wolfe finished with 177 yards on 13-for-27 passing with two touchdown passes and two interceptions.

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