Tigers fall to Eastern PA power St. Joseph’s Prep, 45-23, in PIAA Championship
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
|SCORE BY QUARTERS
|St. Joseph's Prep