‘We are here:’ Aliquippa gets defensive in WPIAL semifinal victory over McKeesport

Friday, November 18, 2022 | 11:46 PM

There was no tropical storm or heavy rain.

This time it was simply Aliquippa’s defense that took the ball out of McKeesport’s hands over and over. The Quips intercepted two passes, recovered three fumbles, scored a safety and celebrated two defensive touchdowns Friday night in a dominant win over McKeesport, 42-7, in a WPIAL Class 4A semifinal at Canon-McMillan.

A week earlier, McKeesport survived 12 fumbles in a rain-soaked win, but Aliquippa made these miscues hurt.

The Quips led 42-0 after 6-foot-3½, 340-pound defensive lineman Naquan Crowder and an entourage of teammates rumbled 87 yards with a fumble for a fourth-quarter touchdown that wrapped up another trip to the WPIAL finals.

“Every mistake they make, every three-and-out they take, we were trying to capitalize,” Crowder said. “We were trying to make a point. We were trying to make our statement: We are here.”

The win takes No. 1 seed Aliquippa (11-0) back to the WPIAL finals for the 15th year in a row. The defending champion Quips will face No. 2 Central Valley (11-1) at 8 p.m. Friday at Acrisure Stadium.

Remarkably, Crowder wasn’t the only lineman to score.

Quips defensive tackle Jason McBride returned an interception 15 yards to the end zone, running back Tiqwai Hayes rushed for 197 yards and three touchdowns, and receiver Donovan Walker scored on a 39-yard catch.

This was a highly anticipated rematch of a dramatic 2021 semifinal that the Quips won in double overtime. This time, there was little suspense. No. 5 seed McKeesport (11-2) turned the ball over on three of its first four possessions and Aliquippa built a 21-0 lead by the second quarter.

“It seemed like we got underwater and were drowning,” McKeesport coach Matt Miller said. “We couldn’t get anything going. That was the big issue. We felt like we got under water and couldn’t get back on top.”

Aliquippa coach Mike Warfield wanted his players to be the more physical team, especially against a tricky McKeesport option offense with two 1,000-yard rushers.

Junior linebacker Cameron Lindsey delivered one of the hardest hits, a jarring first-quarter collision with McKeesport quarterback Jahmil Perryman that sent the ball high into the air. The Quips recovered Perryman’s fumble, one of three lost by McKeesport.

“They were ready to play,” Warfield said of his players. “The wing-T is hard to guard, especially when you have the speed that they have. But our guys were in the right place at the right time — all of the time.”

McKeesport never got its run game going. Perryman had 10 rushing yards on 21 carries. Bobbie Boyd had nine yards on eight carries.

So instead, McKeesport tried to pass.

Perryman threw for 135 yards and broke the shutout with a 39-yard touchdown pass to Boyd in the fourth quarter. But Perryman completed only 8 of 22 attempts. Facing an oversized defensive line, McKeesport threw the ball on two of its first three plays and four of its first seven.

“They were clogging the box,” Miller said. “Against other teams, you could still will your way to get run plays. We had some things we thought were open. We just didn’t make plays.”

McKeesport’s first possession ended with a 15-yard interception-return touchdown by McBride, who picked off a screen pass. Brandon Banks had the Quips’ second interception later in the half.

“I felt like big-time players show up in big games and we all showed up,” McBride said. “Everyone on Facebook, everyone on Twitter said, ‘They can’t stop the run. They’re too slow.’ We had to show them what we can do.”

On the other side, Aliquippa’s run game was strong. Hayes rushed for 197 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries. The sophomore scored on runs of 38, 10 and 64 yards.

The 38-yarder pushed Aliquippa’s lead to 12-0 in the first quarter.

The Quips added two points on a safety early in the second quarter when McKeesport’s punter was tackled in the end zone after a bad snap. A 39-yard touchdown pass from Quentin Goode to Donovan Walker extended Aliquippa’s lead to 21-0 before halftime.

Hayes added two rushing touchdowns in the third to lead 35-0, enacting the mercy rule with 3 minutes, 27 seconds left in the quarter.

“The kids were focused,” Warfield said. “You could tell in the preparation. I wasn’t too concerned because of how we prepared during the week. I knew the kids would be focused and ready to go, and it showed tonight.”

Watch an archived video stream of this broadcast on Trib HSSN.

Chris Harlan is a TribLive reporter covering sports. He joined the Trib in 2009 after seven years as a reporter at the Beaver County Times. He can be reached at charlan@triblive.com.

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