Top-ranked North Allegheny rolls past Norwin

Friday, October 9, 2020 | 11:02 PM

A late arrival by North Allegheny to Westmoreland County didn’t manage to derail the WPIAL’s No. 1-ranked Class 6A football team on Friday night at Norwin.

Chalk it up to experience in matters like these: When the lights go on for North Allegheny, they generally go out for the Tigers’ opponents.

Khalil Dinkins scored four touchdowns, and North Allegheny, besieged by pregame travel difficulties, shook off a sluggish start to roll to a 49-13 victory and remain unbeaten with just two games remaining in a shortened regular season.

“This is a longer trip than some for us, and we had some issues,” North Allegheny coach Art Walker said. “We had a problem with our buses being on time, and one of our equipment trucks broke down on the (Pennsylvania) Turnpike and we had to make a change there. That put us well behind schedule, but our kids handled it well.”

Did they ever.

Dinkins had his way with Norwin (1-4, 1-4), and quarterback Greg Phillips, who took most of the snaps for the Tigers for a second consecutive week, engineered the offense to scoring drives on nearly every possession as North Allegheny overcame a 7-0 deficit and led at halftime 35-7.

Dinkins scored on a 69-yard touchdown run with 5 minutes, 50 seconds left in the first quarter for North Allegheny after Norwin’s Connor Chrisman gave the Knights a short-lived 7-0 lead just 19 seconds earlier with a 57-yard touchdown run.

“We had some success early,” Norwin coach Dave Brozeski said. “But (Dinkins’) big play, when they scored a touchdown, took the wind out of our sails and I don’t think we ever responded after that.”

North Allegheny (4-0, 3-0), coming off a 14-11 victory over No. 5 Mt. Lebanon a week earlier, poured it on, with Dinkins also scoring on a 6-yard run and on 15- and 30-yard passes from Phillips, who has been playing as part of a three-man platoon system at quarterback for much of the season.

But Phillips seemingly has settled in the past two weeks, and Walker is pleased with what he is seeing from his senior field general.

“He’s had two solid weeks in a row, and that’s what you expect from a senior.”

Phillips finished 6 of 8 passing for 89 yards and gave way mainly in the second half to junior Ryan Treser, who scored on a 35-yard touchdown run in the third quarter when the Tigers had the game in hand.

Dinkins amassed 145 total yards, 76 rushing and 69 receiving. Of his four receptions, three went for at least 15 yards.

“Khalil had a heckuva night. He’s a special athlete,” Walker said.

JR Burton’s 19-yard touchdown run in the final minute of the first quarter gave North Allegheny the lead for good, 14-7.

Dinkins then scored three second-quarter touchdowns to put the game out of reach.

“Dinkins is a very good player, and he made some great plays against us tonight,” Brozeski said. “They’re a very good team, probably as good as we’ve seen all year.”

That includes No. 2 Central Catholic, whom the Knights gave some trouble in a 38-28 loss Sept. 18.

“We know who we have on the schedule, and you’ve got to play each play as a battle, each game a week at a time,” Brozeski said. “We will continue to prepare for whoever is next up and be ready to go. You learn from your mistakes, and you understand that the competition is solid.

“Depth of talent is with a lot of teams that we play. Like any team, you need quality depth at all positions, not only for the games but for practices.”

Andrew Gavlik also scored for North Allegheny on a 2-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, and Fleming, who was 10 for 14 for 187 yards passing, managed to find Noah Vogel on an 11-yard scoring pass for Norwin with just 17 seconds remaining on a running clock that began when North Allegheny took a 35-point lead in the third.

North Allegheny, ranked No. 1 in the WPIAL and No. 3 in the PIAA by the Trib, hosts to WPIAL No. 3 Canon-McMillan on Friday before closing out the regular season at Hempfield on Oct. 23.

“I liked how we responded after that first possession,” Walker said, referring to North Allegheny’s three-and-out situation by its offense and the Tigers trailing by a touchdown.

“They scored on the opening drive, and when we got the ball back, we did nothing. That’s definitely not what you want to do. It’s our job to answer. I’m really proud of my guys how they responded after that.”

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