WPIAL Class 3A final by the numbers: Belle Vernon 26, Avonworth 0
Friday, November 24, 2023 | 8:20 PM
Short wait for No. 3
Belle Vernon waited 27 years to win its second WPIAL football championship. It took just 364 days to experience that winning feeling again.
The Leopards defeated Avonworth, 26-0, to earn their third district title Friday.
They beat the ’Lopes for the second year in a row at Acrisure Stadium after a 24-7 victory in 2022.
Martin shows versatility
Belle Vernon’s Quinton Martin scored three touchdowns three ways (run, reception, punt return) in last season’s WPIAL championship game victory.
The Penn State-bound senior running back/defensive back again showcased his versatility in Friday’s victory, even without finding the end zone.
He ran for 46 yards on nine carries, caught five passes for 25 yards and broke up a pass defensively.
His biggest impact might have come on Belle Vernon’s final drive.
Martin ran the ball five times for 42 yards to help Belle Vernon chew up the final 7 minutes, 45 seconds and seal the 26-0 win.
Stat of the game
Field position played a key role in Belle Vernon’s ability to keep Avonworth off the scoreboard.
And junior punter Willie Schwerha was a primary reason the Leopards were able to consistently flip the field.
Schwerha had four punts for 170 yards, an average of 42.5 yards. That included a 62-yard boot that was downed at the Avonworth 2-yard line near the end of the third quarter. Three plays later, Dominic Ghilani sacked Carson Bellinger for a safety and a 19-0 lead.
Belle Vernon will play in the PIAA semifinals Dec. 1 or 2 against District 10 champ Hickory (11-2), a winner Friday over District 6 champion Martinsburg Central.
The Leopards won the PIAA championship last season after beating Martinsburg Central in the semifinals and Neumann Goretti in the finals.
Bill Hartlep is the TribLive sports editor. A Pittsburgh native and Point Park graduate, he joined the Trib in 2004, covering high school sports. He held various editing roles before assuming his current position in 2019. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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