North Allegheny Goes Airborne to Beat Woodland Hills for 1st WPIAL Title Since 1990

Sunday, November 28, 2010 | 12:00 AM

There are those who wondered throughout this 2010 season if North Allegheny could pass the football if they needed to. We may never know, but after the WPIAL Class AAAA Championship Game, we now know the Tigers can throw if they want to. NA quarterback Mike Buchert came out slinging, hitting on all six of his first half passes as the Tigers jumped out to a 21-0 lead at halftime and held on for a 21-14 victory for North Allegheny's second WPIAL championship and first gold crown since 1990.

After Woodland Hills gained one first down and punted, North Allegheny took over at their own 7-yard line. Buchert then connected with senior Dan Slivka on a pair of play-action passes combining for 77 yards to the Woodland Hills 3-yard line. Buchert then hit tight end Rob Kugler on a pop pass to put the Tigers up 7-0 after the Alex Greenblatt point after touchdown.

On NA's third possession of the first half, Buchert hit Slivka again on a big pass play of 27 yards to the Wolverines 21 yard line. Two plays later, Buchert avoided pressure as he rolled right, stopped before he hit the line of scrimmage and lobbed a scoring pass to James Kleinhampl of 18-yards to extend the Tigers lead to 14-0.

The next time North Allegheny had the football, Air-Walker was grounded as a more familiar weapon came into focus. Senior running back Alex Papson had two carries for nine yards on the drive before he broke free from what looked like a 1-yard run off the right side as three Woodland Hills defenders had him wrapped but could not bring him down, 43-yards later, Papson helped the 5th-seed Tigers extend the lead to 21-0, which they took to the locker room.

The tide turned quickly in the third quarter when Papson fumbled the ball away on the Tigers first possession of the second half. To add insult to injury, Papson suffered a shoulder injury and would be lost for the rest of the contest.

The defending WPIAL Quad-A champs would not go quietly as three big plays in the third quarter brought the Wolverines back.

Woodland Hills quarterback Pat Menifee hit Shakim Alonzo on a 46-yard touchdown pass with 4:35 left in the third to put the Wolverines on the board. After an NA three and out, a bad snap from center on a punt gave Woody High the ball at the Tigers 24-yard line. It took George Novak's one play to tunr that miscue into points as Lafayette Pitts raced right on first down and took it 24 yards to the house to pull Woodland Hills to within 21-14 as the third quarter turned into the fourth.

The Tigers offense struggled in the second half without their ace back, but the defense came up large in the final quarter to seal the victory. Twice, the Wolverines had the ball in NA territory in the final three and a half minutes. Woodland Hills got the ball as close as the Tigers 21-yard line when they were turned away on downs with 3:24 left. Then after getting the ball back at the North Allegheny 47-yard line with 57 seconds left, Menifee had a fourth down pass picked off by Clay Bunting, who was filling in for injured DB Matt Steinbeck.

Despite missing most of the second half, Papson still led all rushers with 123 yards. Buchert finished 6 of 9 for 137 yards and two touchdown tosses. Meanwhile, the Tigers defense was huge in keeping Woodland Hills in check. The Wolverines had 94 total yards on the ground while Pitts was held to 49 yards rushing.

Woodland Hills season ends with a final record of 8-4 as their seven game winning streak comes to an end. North Allegheny celebrates district gold and improves to 12-1 and will face State College for a second time this season on Friday, December 3rd at Pine-Richland High School. Back in Week One, the Tigers mauled the Little Lions 42-7.

Woodland Hills Wolverines : 0 – 0 – 14 – 0 = 14
North Allegheny Tigers : 7 – 14 – 0 – 0 = 21

1st: NA – Kugler 3-yard pass from Buchert (Greenblatt PAT)
2nd: NA – Kleinhampl 18-yard pass from Buchert (Greenblatt PAT)
2nd: NA – Papson 43-yard run (Greenblatt PAT)
3rd: WH – Alonzo 46-yard pass from Menifee (Scifo PAT)
3rd: WH – Pitts 25-yard (Scifo PAT)

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