Three Second Half TD’s By Maenza Help Tigers Best Big Macs, 45-21
Senior running back Ben Maenza rushed for 165 yards and three touchdowns to help North Allegheny put away Canon-McMillan on Friday night, 45-21. All three of Maenza’s touchdowns came in the second half to turn a close game into a comfortable 24-point win. For his efforts, Maenza was named the Wright Automotive Player of the Game by the North Allegheny Sports Network.
Playing in their first home game of the season, the Big Macs rode a wave of emotion in the early going and scored the game’s first touchdown on a 1-yard plunge by Josh O’Hare for a 6-0 lead with 5:44 on the first quarter clock. Canon-McMillan missed the point after kick.
On the ensuing possession, North Allegheny answered back with an 11-play, 93-yard drive that culminated on a 9-yard touchdown run by quarterback Gunnar Fisher. With place-kicker Isaac West adding a successful PAT, the Tigers led 7-6 with 41 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Tigers added on to the lead in the second quarter when Fisher heaved a 53-yard bomb to Joey Porter Jr. for a 14-6 lead. West tacked on a 35-yard field goal later in the quarter, with 4:16 on the clock, to increase the score to 17-6, NA.
Just when it appeared NA had seized control, Canon-McMillan responded with a quick three-play, 69-yard drive that was punctuated on a 32-yard touchdown by O’Hare to cut the score to 17-12. Davey Cooper rushed in the two-point conversion to bring the score to 17-14 just before halftime.
North Allegheny opened the second half with possession and put together a 10-play, 80-yard march that concluded on an 8-yard run by Maenza for a 24-14 advantage with 7:27 to go in the third quarter.
Canon-McMillan quarterback Jonathan Quinque keyed the ensuing drive with a 48-yard swing pass to O’Hare, which led to a 5-yard touchdown pass to Alec Hendal with 5:06 remaining in the third quarter to trim the NA lead to 24-21. O’Hare finished with 155 yards rushing and 223 total yards for CM.
A block in the back penalty on the kickoff and a personal foul on the next play had the Tigers backed up to a 1st and 17 at their own 8-yard line. Undaunted, sophomore quarterback Peter Vardzel hit senior receiver Corey Melzer in stride for an 82-yard pass play to the Canon-McMillan 10-yard line. Moments later, Maenza scampered into the end zone for a 4-yard score and a 31-21 lead with 3:42 to play in the third period.
From there, the Tigers were able to put the game away in the final stanza courtesy on a 37-yard touchdown run by Maenza and a 38-yard rumble by fullback Sam Gelosh for a 45-21 victory.
An important team stat in the win was third down conversions. North Allegheny was able to sustain drives by going 9 of 13 on third down conversions. Meanwhile, Canon-McMillan’s inability to extend drives was detrimental to its cause, converting on only 1 of 7 attempts.
With the win, North Allegheny remains unbeaten with a 4-0 record overall and 3-0 mark in Class 6A. Canon-McMillan falls to 0-3 in conference play. The Tigers will visit Mt. Lebanon next week.
Football Summary vs. Canon-McMillan, 9-14-18
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