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2023-2024 Game Summaries

Tigers fall to Eastern PA power St. Joseph’s Prep, 45-23, in PIAA Championship

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by: Jonathan Spina

The magical year came to an end on Chapman Field at Cumberland Valley High School in the state championship as North Allegheny fell to eastern PA power and the number six team in the country St. Joseph’s Prep by a score of 45-23 on Saturday night.

St. Joe’s got on the board early and often as the Hawks quarterback Samaj Jones, a Cincinnati commit, ran in touchdowns of 1-yard and 41-yards to give St. Joe’s the 14-0 lead after a quarter of play. The Hawks added on to their lead in the second quarter as Isaiah West punched the ball in from 22 yards out and St. Joe’s had a 21-0 lead with 11:53 left in the quarter. After a diving interception by Anthony Sacco at the Tigers 30-yard line, North Allegheny’s defense stood strong and forced the Hawks to kick a 41-yard field goal to extend their lead to 24-0 with 9:17 remaining in the half.

The Tigers offense came to life on the next drive putting together a 7-play 58-yard drive that was finished off by a Logan Kushner 5-yard touchdown run and North Allegheny was on the board trailing 24-7 with 6:04 remaining in the second. The momentum was short-lived, however, as Samaj Jones found Elijah Jones, another Cincinnati commit, on an 80-yard touchdown pass and the Hawks had the momentum back and a 31-7 lead.

North Allegheny once again responded by putting together another good drive that culminated with a Peter Notaro 34-yard field goal to make the score 31-10 with 2:23 left in the half. St. Joe’s Prep answered back with an 80-yard kick return by West Virginia commit, Brandon Rehmann to get the Hawks into the red zone. Rehmann would end up being rewarded on the drive catching a 13-yard touchdown pass from Samaj Jones and St. Joe’s had a 37-10 lead going into halftime.

Momentum continued in St. Joe’s favor in the second half as Samaj Jones scored his third rushing touchdown of the night to make the score 45-10 with 5:45 left in the third quarter. North Allegheny would continue to fight getting a 1-yard touchdown run from Daniel Sellers and a 52-yard pitch and catch from Kushner to Khiryn Boyd to make the final score 45-23.

Kushner finished the night 11 for 28 with 125 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also had 66 rushing yards. Boyd had 5 catches for 94 yards with a touchdown.

Evan Lyon led all Tigers defenders with 10 tackles. Liam Flaherty and Sellers both had eight tackles including one for loss.

The senior class was named the Wright Automotive Player of the Game. This class won back-to-back WPIAL Championships, got back into the state tournament for the first time since 2012 last year and got to the state championship for the first time since 2012 this season.

North Allegheny finishes the year at 14-2. St. Joe’s Prep finishes the season at 15-1. Congrats to coach Art Walker and the North Allegheny football team on an historic season.

Football Summary vs. St. Joseph's Prep, 12-9-23

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NA Ground Game Runs Over Harrisburg In PIAA Semifinals, 24-12

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The North Allegheny Tigers punched their ticket to the PIAA championship game for the first time since 2012 with a 24-12 victory over Harrisburg in the PIAA Class 6A semifinals on Saturday afternoon at Mansion Park Stadium. Also appearing in the state semifinals for the first time in 11 years, the Tigers used a potent rushing attack and a rock solid defense to topple the three-time reigning District 3 champions and PIAA runners-up from a season ago.

North Allegheny’s special teams unit also played a pivotal role in the victory and set up the Tigers to score the first touchdown of the game. After Harrisburg’s first two drives went nowhere, senior Evan Lyon returned a punt 21 yards to the Cougars 40-yard line. The Tigers capitalized on the short field and marched 40 yards in seven plays, culminating the possession with an 8-yard touchdown run by Tyree Alualu for a 7-0 lead with 3:29 left in the first quarter.

Following another three-and-out by the Cougars, the Tigers began their next drive at their own 45-yard line. North Allegheny put together a nine-play drive, keyed by a 27-yard gain by Lyon on a reverse to the Harrisburg 11-yard line. Five plays later, senior quarterback Logan Kushner walked into the end zone untouched for a 1-yard scoring run and a 14-0 lead with 11:04 on the second quarter clock.

With Harrisburg’s offense stuck in neutral, the Cougars punted to Lyon after another three-and-out and he returned it 23 yards to the Cougars 37-yard line. The Tigers turned the short field into more points thanks to a 42-yard field goal by Peter Notaro and the lead expanded to 17-0 with 8:41 left in the second quarter.

Midway through the second period, North Allegheny seemed poised to gain a strangle hold of the contest with a 4th and goal at the Harrisburg 1-yard line. However, the Cougars stonewalled the Tigers on a QB sneak attempt with 4:51 to play before halftime. Despite facing the NA defense with the length of the field in front of them, the Cougars scored their first touchdown of the game when quarterback Shawn Lee Jr. tossed an 82-yard scoring strike to Quincy Brannon Jr. to trim the score to 17-6, Tigers, with 4:05 left in the second quarter. The extra point kick failed for Harrisburg, keeping NA’s lead at 11 points.

On the opening drive of the third quarter, the North Allegheny ground game asserted its dominance and put together a six-play, 64-yard march. Junior running back Liam Flaherty carried the ball four times on the drive for 29 yards and Kushner, who toted the ball two times on the possession, scored on a 9-yard scamper to increase the NA lead to 24-6 with 8:32 remaining in the third period.

From there, North Allegheny controlled the football and the clock and outrushed Harrisburg, 267-124, on the afternoon. The Tigers attempted only six passes in the game.

With time winding down in the fourth quarter, the Cougars kept hope alive with a 15-yard touchdown pass by Lee to Brannon, trimming the score to 24-12, Tigers, with 3:45 left in the fourth quarter. North Allegheny recovered the ensuing onside kick and held on to the football for the remaining minutes to cap off a 24-12 victory.

Kushner rushed for a game-high 164 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns for Wright Automotive Player of the Game honors. Flaherty totaled 15 carries for 54 yards. Flaherty was also the leading tackler on defense with 12 stops. The NA defense forced one turnover on an interception by linebacker Dylan Langdon in the second quarter.

Lee was a bright spot for Harrisburg with 104 yards rushing, most of which came in the fourth quarter, and 210 yards passing and two touchdowns. Brannon was the leading receiver for the Cougars with four catches for 115 yards and two scores.

North Allegheny improves to 13-1 on the season, while Harrisburg’s season comes to a close with a 12-2 record. The Tigers will advance to the PIAA Class 6A championship to face St. Joseph’s Prep, the eighth-ranked team in the country in the latest USA Today Top 25 poll. The game will be broadcast live by the North Allegheny Sports Network.

Football Summary vs. Harrisburg, 12-2-23

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NA Battles Harrisburg For First Time In PIAA Class 6A Semifinals

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Appearing in the state’s Final Four for the first time since 2012, the North Allegheny Tigers (12-1) will battle the Harrisburg Cougars (12-1) in the PIAA Class 6A semifinals on Saturday afternoon at Mansion Park Stadium in Altoona, PA. With a trip to the state championship game at stake, the Tigers and Cougars will meet for the first time ever.

The route to the state semifinals has been similar for both team. North Allegheny atoned for its only loss of the year with a 44-41 win over Central Catholic in the WPIAL championship game and won their eighth consecutive game last week with a 41-7 drubbing of McDowell in the PIAA quarterfinals.

Harrisburg’s only loss came in week two to Manheim Township, 38-6, on Sept. 9. Since that game, the Cougars have won 10 in a row, including a 34-28 overtime rematch with Manheim Township in the District 3 championship game. In that game, Harrisburg rallied from a 28-7 deficit in the second half to claim the win. Quarterback Shawn Lee Jr. tossed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Elias Coke with 23 seconds left, and the duo connected again on a two-point conversion to tie the game at 28-28. Junior running back Nehemiah Ewell provided the game-winning points with a short touchdown run in overtime.

The similarities don’t end there. Both teams boast outstanding dual-threat quarterbacks. North Allegheny senior Logan Kushner received his first Division I offer from Davidson after rushing for a career-high 240 yards and accounting for six touchdowns against Central Catholic in the WPIAL championship. On the season, Kushner has passed for 1,589 yards and 23 touchdowns, and has rushed for 1,209 yards and 21 rushing scores.

Lee has also been a reliable multi-purpose threat at QB for Harrisburg, passing for 2,046 yards and 24 touchdowns, while rushing for 1,405 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground. Lee has Division I offers from N.C. State, Iowa State and Kent State. With a variety of offensive weapons, Harrisburg’s leading receiver Elias Coke has 20 D-I offers and has reeled in 42 passes for 791 yards and 12 touchdowns. Ewell is the top running back for the Cougars with 1,194 yards on the ground and 16 touchdowns.

The Harrisburg offensive line is bookended by a pair of D-I recruits as well. Senior Sir-Kayne Venable anchors the left tackle spot and sophomore Kevin Brown is the starting right tackle. North Allegheny boasts an offensive front with a bevy of All-Conference performers, including senior left tackle Cameron Chmura. The Marshall commit is a Bill Fralic Award finalist and will have to miss today’s award ceremony, but he will have a different prize in mind when he takes the field with North Allegheny in the PIAA semifinals.

North Allegheny is 3-1 all-time in PIAA semifinal games and is vying for a fourth PIAA championship. Harrisburg was the state runner-up in Class 6A a year ago is hoping to win its first PIAA crown this season.

The last time the Tigers played in a PIAA semifinal game, they defeated West Lawn Wilson, 45-10, in 2012. Wilson’s Jesse Poore (Johns Hopkins) returned the opening kickoff 85-yard for a touchdown, but it was the only touchdown the Bulldogs would score as NA won in a blowout. Quarterback Mack Leftwich (UTEP) passed for 217 yards and three touchdowns, and the NA defense limited Wilson to a scant 103 yards of total offense and forced two turnovers.

Kickoff for today’s game is set for 1:05 p.m. at Mansion Park Stadium in Altoona. As always, the game will be broadcast live by the North Allegheny Sports Network with hometown broadcasters Randy Gore and Jonathan Spina. The pregame show will get underway at 12:45 p.m., including a pregame interview with Tigers head coach Art Walker. To listen to today’s FREE broadcast on the NA Sports Network, click here. 

NA Manhandles McDowell In PIAA Quarterfinals, 41-7

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The North Allegheny Tigers opened up a 35-0 lead by halftime and cruised to a 41-7 victory over the visiting McDowell Trojans in the PIAA Class 6A quarterfinals on Friday night at Newman Stadium. The Tigers advance to the PIAA’s final four for the first time since 2012. The victory also keeps North Allegheny perfect in head-to-head meetings with McDowell, having won all 12 matchups with the Trojans in a series that began back in 1982.

When NA last reached the state semifinals in 2012, it was McDowell who the Tigers marched through, 56-6, on their way to a PIAA crown. While the final score was not identical, NA’s dominance over McDowell was similar to 2012 as the Tigers carved up the Trojans like a Thanksgiving turkey.

On the opening kickoff, senior Khiryn Boyd returned the kick 74-yards to the McDowell 15-yard line. Three plays later, senior quarterback Logan Kushner scampered into the end zone on a 12-yard run for a quick 7-0 lead just 1:34 into the game.

After a three-and-out by the Trojans, the Tigers needed only one play on their next drive. With 8:36 on the first quarter clock, Kushner launched a 66-yard scoring strike to Boyd for a 14-0 lead.

McDowell, who averaged 42 points per game entering the game, drove to the NA 43-yard line on its next drive before turning the ball over on downs. The Tigers utilized six consecutive rushing attempts before throwing their first and only pass of the drive, a 29-yard touchdown aerial strike by Kushner to senior wideout Evan Lyon, to extend the lead to 21-0 with 2:58 to play in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, North Allegheny began to pull away and ballooned the lead to 35-0 by halftime to invoke the mercy rule. On a 4th and 6, Kushner tossed a 33-yard touchdown pass to Lyon with 11:39 on the clock and Boyd took a reverse 25-yards for a touchdown with 8:35 remaining to account for the second quarter scoring.

McDowell managed to break the shutout with 8:47 left in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard touchdown run by Stephon Porter to cut the NA lead to 35-7. The Tigers capped the scoring with 37 seconds remaining on a 4-yard touchdown run by Luke Rohan to bring the score to its eventual final, 41-7.

Kushner completed 6 of 9 passes for 174 yards and three touchdowns, while adding another 89 yards on the ground and a touchdown on eight carries for Wright Automotive Player of the Game honors. Lyon hauled in three passes for 77 yards and two touchdowns. Junior running back Liam Flaherty toted the football 16 times for 90 yards to help NA outgain McDowell, 442-226.

On defense, junior linebacker Dylan Langdon led the team in tackles with seven stops and brother Kyle Langdon recovered a fourth quarter fumble for the only turnover of the night.

With the win, North Allegheny improves to 12-1 on the season. Its the most victories in a single-season since NA went 16-0 in 2012. McDowell’s season comes to a close with an 8-5 record. The Tigers will face Harrisburg next week in the PIAA semifinals at a site, time and date to be determined. Harrisburg rallied from a 28-13 fourth quarter deficit to beat Manheim Township, 34-28, in overtime on Friday night. Next week’s PIAA semifinal contest will be broadcast live by the North Allegheny Sports Network.

Football Summary vs. McDowell, 11-24-23

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NA Wins 44-41 Thriller Over Central Catholic In WPIAL Class 6A Championship

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For audio highlights, click below.


In a championship game for the ages, and the highest scoring title game in WPIAL history, the North Allegheny Tigers defeated the Central Catholic Vikings, 44-41, on Saturday night for the WPIAL Class 6A crown at Norwin Stadium.  The 85 points scored between the two teams set a new record for the highest scoring championship game in WPIAL history. The victory marked the second consecutive WPIAL championship for North Allegheny and the program’s sixth overall. The Tigers also defeated the Vikings in the 2022 title tilt, 35-21.

In the 2022 WPIAL championship win over PCC, quarterback Logan Kushner rushed for a then-career high 195 yards and accounted for three total touchdowns. Kushner was even better in Saturday night’s title game rematch, rushing for a new career-best 240 yards and accounted for six touchdowns, with four rushing and two passing. He’s the first NA quarterback since Ethan Maenza in 2016 to total six touchdowns in a single-game and only the third to do it in the Art Walker-era. The other was Mack Leftwich, who accomplished the same feat multiple times in 2012.

Kushner’s 240 yards rushing also put him well over the 1,000-yard mark on the season, making him the first Tiger since Luke Trueman in 2017 to pass and rush for over a 1,000 yards in the same the same season. Maenza did the same in 2016 en route to WPIAL Class 6A Player of the Year honors.

The night got off to an inauspicious start for North Allegheny, however, as Central Catholic’s Xxavier Thomas returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown and a 6-0 lead just 14 seconds into the game. The extra point attempt by PCC failed following the touchdown.

In a first half with five lead changes, North Allegheny immediately responded when Kushner found senior wideout Khiryn Boyd wide open for a 45-yard touchdown pass and a 7-6 lead with 10:22 on the clock.

Central Catholic countered with a 12-play, 80-yard drive the was punctuated with an 11-yard touchdown pass by senior quarterback Peyton Wehner to senior tight end Cole Sullivan for a 13-7 lead with 7:01 on the first quarter clock.

Khiryn Boyd hauls in his second TD catch for a 14-13 lead late in the first quarter.

Neither team was able to score on their next possession before NA regained the advantage with 51 seconds left in the quarter courtesy of a 57-yard scoring strike by Kushner to Boyd to leapfrog the Tigers back in front, 14-13. Boyd hauled in all three of Kushner’s pass completions on the night for 107 yards and two scores.

Continuing the seesaw nature of the contest, the Vikings answered back with a nine-play, 80-yard drive that culminated on a 2-yard rushing touchdown by running back Elijah Faulkner for a 20-14 lead with 10:40 remaining in the second quarter. As it turned out, it was the last time Central Catholic led in the game.

The Tigers answered back in kind with an 84-yard march that culminated in a 39-yard touchdown run by Kushner for a 21-20 advantage with 8:05 remaining in the second quarter.

With the first of three turnovers forced by the NA defense and special teams, junior safety James Donaldson intercepted a Wehner pass at the PCC 27-yard line to short-circuit the next Vikings possession. The pick by Donaldson, his second of the season, set up Kushner for a 7-yard touchdown run and a 28-20 NA lead with 8:05 to go in the period. The interception thrown by Wehner was only his sixth of the season.

Tyree Alualu forces a fumble from PCC’s Peyton Wehner for the second turnover of the night.

The Tigers defense struck again late in the second quarter when senior linebacker Tyree Alualu punched the ball away from Wehner on a third down scramble and recovered the loose ball at the PCC 15-yard line. Three plays later, NA was in the end zone again on a 3-yard touchdown scamper by Kushner with just 28 seconds left before intermission and the Tigers led, 34-20. The extra point kick was blocked by Anthony Speca, keeping the NA lead at 14 points at the half.

Leading by two scores, North Allegheny owned possession to start the second half and marched to the PCC 36-yard line before the drive stalled. A fourth down quick kick by Kushner bounced into the body of Speca and was recovered by senior lineman Ryan Ranallo at the Vikings 18-yard line. Following the turnover, an apparent touchdown run by Kushner was called back due to a holding penalty and the Tigers settled for a 28-yard field goal attempt by Peter Notaro. However, the kick was blocked by PCC and pulled in out of the air by Bradley Gompers, who returned it 71-yards to the North Allegheny 20-yard line. The sudden change in momentum led to a Faulkner touchdown run from 15 yards out. Despite owning possession for over 10 minutes in the third quarter, NA’s lead was trimmed to just seven points.

Undaunted by the unfortunate turn of events, the North Allegheny offense went right back to pounding the football with the running game and put together a 10-play, 67-yard drive before stalling at the PCC 13-yard line. Unaffected by two prior blocked kicks, the Tigers went for, and connected on, a 29-yard field goal by Notaro to stretch the NA lead to 10 points at 37-27 with 8:41 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Central Catholic responded with a nine-play, but also time consuming drive, that was aided by a personal foul penalty that erased a potential forced fumble by Alualu and recovery by senior Daniel Sellers at the NA 28-yard line. Instead, the targeting call on NA breathed new life into the drive for the Vikings, to which they capitalized with a 17-yard touchdown pass by Wehner on a 3rd and 15 play to Vernon Settles, trimming the NA lead to 37-34 with 4:40 left in fourth quarter.

In a game where the Vikings defense struggled to stop the run, Central Catholic couldn’t get the critical stop it needed. Pinned back at their own 8-yard line to start the possession, North Allegheny needed just four plays to break the game open once again. Kushner raced 76 yards for his fourth rushing touchdown of the night, and 20th of the season, to grow the North Allegheny lead to 44-34 with just 2:18 left in the contest.

Central Catholic wouldn’t go away quietly, however, and trimmed the score to 44-41, on a 14-yard scoring strike by Wehner to Sullivan with only 28 seconds remaining in the game. In a valiant effort by the Vikings QB, Wehner passed for 280 yards and three touchdowns. Senior Peter Gonzalez was his top receiver with seven catches for 153 yards.

In a last-ditch effort to continue their comeback bid, the Vikings attempted an onside kick that was recovered by Noah Spak at the NA 45-yard line. From there, the Tigers went into the victory formation for a pair of kneel downs by Kushner to close out a 44-41 victory and a WPIAL championship.

With 347 yards of total offense, Kushner was named the Wright Automotive Player of the Game.

Alualu also had a big night and toted the football 18 times for 100 yards. North Allegheny outgained Central Catholic on the ground, 373-90, and led in total offense, 465-327.

With the win, North Allegheny improves to 11-1 overall, while Central Catholic’s season comes to an end with a 10-2 record. The Tigers advance to the PIAA playoffs where they’ll host the McDowell Trojans in the quarterfinal round of the Class 6A playoffs. The game will be broadcast live by the North Allegheny Sports Network.

Football Summary vs. Central Catholic, 11-18-23

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