Hayes scores 4 times as Aliquippa uses pair of 4th-quarter TDs to top Armstrong

Friday, September 2, 2022 | 11:53 PM

Aliquippa, the defending Class 4A WPIAL and state champion, chose not to play a Week Zero game, so tonight’s trip to Armstrong marked the Quips’ first step in defending the dual 2021 titles. Step 1 was a good one, as the Quips earned a hard-fought 28-14 victory at Armstrong.

“It was tough,” Aliquippa coach Mike Warfield said. “They have a good team. I think not playing last week really hurt us, not having those game reps, game speed and game-time decisions.”

Aliquippa scored the game’s first points. Malachi Shegog came on to attempt a 21-yard field goal, but Armstrong jumped offside, setting up fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line. The Quips sent the offense back out, and sophomore Tiqwai Hayes went into the end zone to give Aliquippa the lead with 5 minutes, 18 seconds left in the first quarter.

On the ensuing drive, it was an Aliquippa penalty that aided the Riverhawks. With his team backed up against its own goal line, Cadin Olsen threw an incomplete pass on third down, but DJ Walker was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, setting up a third-and-13, which Armstrong converted.

After Alex Patton took a pass from Olsen and sprinted to the 5-yard line, Penn commit Olsen found Dozick Zablocki in the back of the end zone on third down to cap the 98-yard drive and tie the score at 7-7.

Walker, the all-state safety, atoned for his penalty with a pair of first-half interceptions. He returned the second pick to the Riverhawks 1-yard line, and Hayes scored on the next play for a 14-7 heading into halftime.

“I was this close (holding his forefinger and thumb an inch apart). I regret that. I should have dived for the end zone,” Walker said. He referenced the pick-6, game-winning touchdown former Quip MJ Devonshire had in the Pitt-West Virginia game Thursday. “I was thinking about that play.”

Added Warfield” “DJ came up with two big plays. He (Olsen) tried to stick those ones. DJ is our leader, and he showed it. I’m proud of him.”

The Riverhawks tied the score in the third quarter. Olsen threw a fade to junior Isaiah Brown in the near corner of end zone. Brown made a contested catch for a 21-yard touchdown, which tied the score at 14-14.

That was the score heading into the fourth quarter when the Quips put the game out of reach.

Warfield said he was happy with the way his team came together in the final quarter.

“I think last year taught that you have to keep playing, no matter what the score is,” he said. “I’m impressed with what we did just battling.”

Aliquippa put together an 11-play go-ahead drive, which Hayes capped with a 1-yard run. Nate Lindsey-Gill was big on the drive for the Quips, gaining 30 yards on three consecutive runs. The point after was missed, and the Quips led 20-14 with 7:40 left.

After a three-and-out by Armstrong, Aliquippa put the game away with its third 11-paly scoring drive of the game. This time, Hayes burst through the right side of the line for a 21-yard score, his fourth touchdown of the game. The 2-point conversion run made it 28-14.

“They made it tough tonight packing the box on us. We missed some blocks, too,” Warfield said of his running game. “I need to look at the tape, because I think (Hayes) may have been looking for more than what he needed to look for. I think we can get better at that.”

Armstrong put together a late drive that stalled at the Aliquippa 2-yard line, and the Quips ran out the clock to start the season at 1-0.

Hayes, who had a great freshman season, started of his sophomore year with 37 carries for 194 yards and the four touchdowns.

“He’s (Hayes) going to carry the load a lot this year,” senior Walker, a senior, said of his sophomore teammate. “I think he’s going to carry us.”

Olsen, the senior quarterback for the Riverhawks, finished the game 14 of 30 for 132 yards. He threw two touchdowns but was intercepted three times by the Quips defense.

The Riverhawks (1-1) will visit New Castle next week for another nonconference matchup. Aliquippa, the top-ranked team in 4A, heads to Stone Field in North Park to take on North Catholic.

“A win is a win, so we’ll take it,” Warfield said. “But we have to get better.”

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