North Allegheny tops Seneca Valley, reaches WPIAL Class 6A championship

Friday, October 30, 2020 | 11:41 PM

It was by no means easy, but top-seeded North Allegheny showcased its versatile offense in a 21-7 victory over fourth-seeded Seneca Valley in the WPIAL Class 6A semifinals Friday night at Newman Stadium in Wexford

A barrage of runners led the way for the Tigers (6-0), who reached the WPIAL finals for the first time since 2012. Seneca Valley finished 4-3.

J.R. Burton, Khalil Dinkins, Mason Kress and Nate Hoke each carried the ball at least six times for at least 30 yards.

Hoke scored two second-quarter touchdowns — from 7 yards and 1 yard. He also sealed the win on an interception with under two minutes remaining.

Burton recorded a game-high 98 yards rushing on 17 touches.

“We knew it was not going to be easy, but we just stayed patient and tried not to do anything stupid with penalties and turnovers,” North Allegheny coach Art Walker said.

“We relied on our defense fighting the field-position battle, waiting for a break, and then we started making a couple plays (to get) things going our way.”

One of those plays was a 59-yard run from Burton with 9 minutes, 7 seconds left in the first half, which set up Hoke for his first of two scores, and Brandon Persad’s extra point made it 7-0 with 8:27 remaining in the half.

Dinkins, a Penn State verbal commit, had 69 yards on seven rushes, including a 12-yard touchdown in the third quarter to put the Tigers ahead 21-0 with 2:11 remaining.

Kress finished with 32 rushing yards and 44 receiving yards, including a 23-yard catch from Greg Phillips on a crossing pattern to set up Hoke for his second touchdown.

Phillips went 8 for 15 for 112 yards and an interception.

The Tigers defense prevented the Raiders from crossing the 50-yard line in the first half.

Seneca Valley’s defense was strong, too, and accounted for the Raiders’ only touchdown.

Deontae Webb picked up a loose ball that was bobbled by multiple players from both teams at Seneca Valley’s 15-yard line and ran 85 yards for a touchdown, cutting the deficit to 21-7 with 7:57 left to play.

Josh Miller also had two early sacks that pushed the Tigers’ out of the red zone and stifled their chance at scoring on their first drive of the game.

Sophomore Graham Hancox started at QB for Seneca Valley instead of Brian Olan. Hancox became the third Raider to start at QB this season, as Olan replaced original starter Dustin Horn because of injury.

“Olan struggled with some turnovers (in games past), so we thought to give Hancox a shot and I thought he did a pretty good job tonight,” Seneca Valley coach Ron Butschle said.

“We just wanted to see if we could get something going on offense. We have been playing musical quarterbacks (and running backs) since Week 2.”

Seneca Valley running back Ethan West, who was returning from an injury, did not start, but his workload increased as the game progressed. He ran for 35 yards on 11 carries.

Seneca Valley was outgained by North Allegheny, 339-81.

Hancox finished 8 of 23 for 36 yards and two interceptions.

“North Allegheny has the best defense in (Class 6A). We struggled to move the ball, but when we did, we shot ourselves in the foot,” Butschle said.

The Tigers will face Central Catholic (5-2) in the WPIAL Class 6A championship at 7 p.m. Friday at North Hills’ Martorelli Stadium. Central Catholic defeated No. 3 Mt. Lebanon, 35-0, in the other Class 6A semifinal.

Watch an archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

Robert Scott III is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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