2017-2018 Game Summaries
Pine-Richland clinched its sixth WPIAL title game appearance with a 49-25 victory over the North Allegheny Tigers on Friday night at Ambridge High School. The Rams rolled up 665 yards of offense in the WPIAL Class 6A semifinal contest and prevailed predominantly on the passing connection of Phil Jurkovec to Jason DiFrancisis. Jurkovec completed 18 of 20 passes for 432 yards and five touchdowns, with four of his scoring strikes going to DiFrancisis.
The night began with a great display of solidarity between the two schools as the bands for North Allegheny and Pine-Richland unified to play the Star Spangled Banner before the contest.
Once the game commenced, the Pine-Richland offense drove to the North Allegheny 26-yard line before their opening possession stalled. The Tigers quickly scored on their first drive of the game with a 2-yard touchdown run by Turner White for a 7-0 lead with 9:49 to play in the first quarter. NA quarterback Luke Trueman set up the touchdown with a 72-yard run on the possession.
The big-play Pine-Richland offense responded just 25 seconds later when Jurkovec hit DiFrancisis for a 52-yard touchdown pass to knot the score at 7-7. Pine-Richland added touchdown runs by Jordan Crawford and Jurkovec in the first quarter to take a 21-7 lead.
In the second quarter, North Allegheny mounted an 11-play, 70-yard drive that culminated on a 38-yard touchdown pass by Trueman to running back Ben Maenza who broke numerous tackles on his way to the end zone. The Maenza touchdown reception cut the score to 21-13. The Tigers followed with a two-point conversion pass from Ben Petsche to Sam Humes to trim the deficit to 21-15 with 9:26 remaining in the second quarter.
The Rams marched to the North Allegheny 6-yard line on the ensuing possession but running back Kenny White fumbled and Tigers linebacker Ethan Augustine recovered to thwart the PR scoring threat. North Allegheny converted the turnover into a 32-yard field goal by Dom Falo and the Pine-Richland lead shrunk to 21-18 with 2:34 left before halftime.
Pine-Richland used up only 1:11 on its next drive and scored on a 17-yard connection between Jurkovec and DiFrancisis to give the Rams a 28-18 lead going into halftime.
The Tigers had the football first in the second half but their drive stalled with a turnover on downs at the PR 27-yard line. One play later, Jurkovec heaved a 73-yard touchdown pass to Crawford to increase the Rams advantage to 35-18.
North Allegheny responded with an 11-play, 73-yard drive that was capped on a Trueman 5-yard touchdown pass to fullback Ryan Langdon to bring the score to 35-25, Rams, with 5:21 remaining in the third quarter. Trueman passed for 121 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 97 yards. Adding a reception for 41 yards on the night, Trueman was selected as the Wright Automotive Player of the Game.
Pine-Richland pulled away over the final 15 minutes of the game with two more touchdown passes from Jurkovec to DiFrancisis from 25-yards and 46-yards out, respectively, for a 49-25 win. DiFrancisis finished with nine receptions for 263 yards and four touchdowns.
Pine-Richland improves to 12-0 on the season and advances to the WPIAL Class 6A championship game for a meeting with the Central Catholic Vikings. North Allegheny’s season ends with an 8-4 record.
The North Allegheny defense intercepted four passes, including one pick six by junior defensive back Nikko Rankin, to spark a 38-14 triumph over the Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils in the WPIAL Class 6A quarterfinals on Friday night. The Tigers also posted five quarterback sacks to slow down the high-octane Mt. Lebanon offense. It was the second time this season NA beat Mt. Lebanon on the road.
North Allegheny’s offense got off to a quick start with a seven play, 40-yard drive that was capped on a 2-yard touchdown run by Turner White for an instant 7-0 lead. After a three-and-out by Mt. Lebanon, the Tigers improved the lead to 14-0 thanks to an 82-yard touchdown run by quarterback Luke Trueman with 6:38 to play in the first quarter.
The NA lead swelled to 21-0 with 8:41 remaining in the second quarter when Trueman hit fullback Ryan Langdon for a 10-yard touchdown pass. Langdon has two touchdown receptions this season with both coming against Mt. Lebanon.
Mt. Lebanon starting quarterback James Stocker was just 2 for 5 for 25 yards before leaving the game with an injury in the first half. Stuck in neutral most of the half, backup Seth Morgan ignited the Blue Devils offense late in the second quarter. Mt. Lebanon cut the score to 21-7 on a 6-yard touchdown run by Johnny Naylor with 2:43 left in the half.
Following a Tigers punt, the Blue Devils marched 96 yards on six plays for another score. With 24 seconds remaining before intermission, Morgan tossed a 22-yard touchdown pass to Lucas DeCaro to cut the NA advantage to 21-14. DeCaro also hauled in a 58-yard reception on the drive to set up the touchdown. DeCaro totaled five receptions for 111 yards. Receiving mate and record breaker Aidan Cain hauled in eight passes for 102 yards, but most of his damage was done with the game out of reach.
Down by just a touchdown, Mt. Lebanon opened the second half with the football but was forced to punt. With his second big kick return of the night, John Vardzel raced 50 yards with a punt to the Blue Devils 9-yard line. One play later, White toted the football the final nine yards for his second rushing score of the night and a 28-14 lead with 10:48 remaining in the third quarter.
Leading by two scores, the Tigers defense made a play that gave NA a decided advantage for the remainder of the contest. Sophomore Luke Colella tipped a Morgan pass that was intercepted by Rankin and returned 26-yards for a touchdown. The Rankin pick six was his second of the season and gave North Allegheny a 35-14 lead. Adding some crunching tackles on special teams, Rankin was selected as the Wright Automotive Player of the Game by the North Allegheny Sports Network.
Colella hauled in an interception of his own in the second half and junior defensive back Joey Porter Jr. picked off two passes to give him a team-leading seven on the season.
North Allegheny capped the scoring with a 23-yard field goal by Dom Falo late in the third quarter to bring the score to its eventual final, 38-14.
The Tigers improve to 8-3 on the season and advance to face the Pine-Richland Rams in the WPIAL semifinals next week. Mt. Lebanon’s season comes to a close with a 6-5 record.
Football Summary vs. Mt. Lebanon, 11-3-17
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There weren’t any surprises on the landscape of the WPIAL Class 6A playoff bracket. The WPIAL released the playoff pairings on Monday night and the North Allegheny Tigers (7-3) received the No. 5 seed. The Tigers will visit the fourth-seeded Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils (6-4) in the quarterfinals round on Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
This will be the second time this season the Tigers will take on the Blue Devils in the south hills. In the first meeting, North Allegheny defeated Mt. Lebanon by a 44-27 decision on Sept. 29. Quarterback Luke Trueman passed for 242 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for another 122 yards in the win.
The North Allegheny Sports Network will broadcast Friday’s WPIAL quarterfinal game with the pregame show starting at 7:10 p.m. For a look at the entire Class 6A bracket, click here.
In an offensive showcase, the Pine-Richland Rams outlasted the North Allegheny Tigers for the Northern Seven Conference title on Friday night, 48-28, at Newman Stadium. The two teams combined for 1,108 yards of total offense and 45 first downs. Pine-Richland’s Jordan Crawford and Kenny White both rushed for over 200 yards and produced an evening full of big plays to help the Rams lock up the top seed in the upcoming Class 6A playoffs.
The Rams built a 14-0 lead in the first quarter on the strength of a 56-yard touchdown run by Kenny White and a 95-yard touchdown run by Crawford. The Tigers answered the Crawford touchdown with a seven play, 72-yard drive that culminated on a 2-yard touchdown run by Luke Trueman to trim the deficit to 14-7 with 54 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Midway through the second quarter, Kenny White busted loose for an 81-yard touchdown to increase the Pine-Richland lead to 21-7. Just before halftime, North Allegheny marched 54 yards on seven plays courtesy of a power running game that was sparked by change-of-pace back Ben Maenza. Maenza carried the ball six times for 50 yards on the drive and scored on a 6-yard run to cut the score to 21-14, Rams. Maenza finished with 73 yards and averaged 8.1 yards per carry.
North Allegheny had the football first in the second half but was forced to punt. Pine-Richland quarterback Phil Jurkovec, who was held to 74 total yards in the first half, busted loose for a 69-yard touchdown run with 8:15 on the third quarter clock for a 28-14 lead. Jurkovec concluded the game with 178 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
Despite the deficit, the Tigers continued to fight back and manhandled the Rams defensive front for another lengthy drive. Senior tailback Turner White was the primary battering ram on an 11-play drive, carrying the ball six times for 31 yards to set up a play-action pass by Luke Trueman to tight end Brennan McCauley for a 9-yard touchdown. The Trueman to McCauley connection brought the score to 28-21, Pine-Richland with 3:54 remaining in the third period. Turner White posted his third 100-yard rushing performance of the season with 104 yards on 21 carries. For his efforts, Turner White was named the Wright Automotive Player of the Game.
Following the Turner White touchdown, Pine-Richland responded with a quick drive that ended on a 10-yard touchdown run by Jurkovec to balloon the lead to 35-21. Showing great resolve, the Tigers once more answered the call and used a fake punt to convert on a 4th and 9 from their own 21-yard line late in the third quarter to spark an 80-yard drive. The possession was punctuated on another great gadget play from head coach Art Walker, a 21-yard halfback pass from Turner White to John Vardzel to make it a 35-28 ballgame with 10:06 remaining in the fourth quarter.
While the Rams defense couldn’t solve the Tigers offense, the Pine-Richland offense continued to carry the team on its back. Kenny White scored his third rushing touchdown of the game, a 4-yard scoring run with 6:48 remaining, for a 41-28 advantage. The Rams missed on the point after touchdown.
On the ensuing possession, North Allegheny marched to the Pine-Richland 17-yard line before a Crawford sacked Trueman and forced a fumble that was recovered by Andrew Kristofic with 3:57 left to play to effectively lock up the win. Pine-Richland capped the scoring with a 46-yard touchdown run by Crawford for a 48-28 victory.
For North Allegheny, the loss snaps a six-game winning streak and brings the Tigers record to 7-3 overall and 4-2 in the Northern Seven Conference. Pine-Richland improves to 10-0 overall and 6-0 in the conference. Both teams will prepare for the WPIAL playoffs next week.
by Jonathan Spina
The North Allegheny offense posted 474 yards of total offense and special teams scored two touchdowns and blocked a punt as the Tigers who have already clinched a playoff berth were all over Hempfield from the opening kick.
The game started exactly how Coach Art Walker drew it up with the defense getting a 3-and-out and then on the Tigers first offensive play of the game Luke Trueman took a quarterback sweep to the left for 71 yards and the opening touchdown and two minutes in the game North Allegheny was up 7-0.
The next offensive drive North Allegheny went to their power running game and the drive ended with a Turner White 3-yard run to make the score 14-0.
Hempfield’s offense woke up the next possession putting an impressive drive together through the air finishing with Braden Brose catching a pass from Justin Sliwoski and scampering 52 yards to cut North Allegheny’s lead to 14-7 with 2:06 left in the 1st quarter.
Play was uneventful most of the 2nd quarter until the last two minutes when North Allegheny put together a 14 play, 82 yard drive that was capped off by a Trueman 12 yard run and North Allegheny was now up 21-7 with 2:40 left in the 2nd quarter.
Hempfield looked to get into their two minute offense but that was shut down quickly by the daunting Tigers defense when linebacker Alex Hays tipped and intercepted a Sliwoski pass and on the next play Trueman found Joey Porter Jr. on a 48 yard touchdown pass and in 40 seconds the North Allegheny lead was up to 28-7.
The half wasn’t over yet though as Hempfield drove down the field and with 10 seconds left in the half, on 4th down, Sliwoski threw a prayer to the end zone that landed in the hands of Brose for a 26 yard touchdown and at the half North Allegheny led 28-14.
North Allegheny wasted no time getting the scoring going in the second half when John Vardzel took the opening kickoff of the second half 88 yards for a touchdown and giving North Allegheny a 35-14 lead 12 seconds into the second half.
Sliwoski and Brose connected once again this time from 13 yards out and on the ensuing kickoff this time it was Percise Colon’s turn to take the kick back 86 yards for another special teams touchdown for the Tigers giving them a 42-21 lead with 6:56 left in the 3rd quarter.
Varzdel was not done scoring as he caught a 31-yard pass from Trueman for six and the rout was on.
North Allegheny’s special teams came up big again when Trevor Tresser blocked a punt and set the Tigers up on the 14 yard line and the offense would not disappoint with Colon plunging in from 3 yards to make the score 56-21.
Brose and Sliwoski would connect one more time from 9 yards out and then Colon capped the scoring with a 28-yard run for his third touchdown of the night and a dominating night was over with the Tigers winning 63-28.
Luke Trueman was the Wright Automotive Player of the Game with 241 total yards and 4 total touchdowns. Turner White had 12 carries for 98 yards and a touchdown. Ethan Augustine and Dante Caputo paced the defense with six and a half and six tackles respectively.
North Allegheny improves to 7-2 while Hempfield drops to 1-7. The Tigers host Pine-Richland next Friday at Wright Field for senior night. Kickoff is at 7 pm.