Aliquippa downs Washington to earn 7th straight trip to WPIAL Class AA title game
The WPIAL’s most-decorated football program is headed back to Heinz Field for a championship game rematch.
No. 2-seeded Aliquippa earned a record-setting seventh consecutive trip to the WPIAL Class AA final with a 44-26 victory over Washington on Friday at Joe P. Demichela Stadium in West Allegheny.
Aliquippa’s victory sets up a rematch with nemesis South Fayette, which defeated Seton-La Salle, 35-21, in the other semifinal. The top-seeded Lions edged the Quips, 34-28, in last year’s title game.
Aliquippa will get another shot at the Lions thanks largely to junior Kaezon Pugh, who continued his torrid playoff pace with 24 carries for 285 yards and four touchdowns.
“It feels great. We run every day at practice and know that when the fourth quarter rolls around, we will be ready,” Pugh said. “I can’t wait to hit anything wearing green.”
Aliquippa spent much of the first half Friday playing like a team that might be upset. DiMantae Bronaugh lost two fumbles that Washington turned into two scores. DeQuay Isbell caught a 60-yard touchdown pass from Jonathan Spina, who also had a 1-yard touchdown run. Aliquippa committed six penalties before surrendering Kurt Adkins’ 67-yard touchdown that put the Prexies ahead 20-16.
It was the first time Aliquippa, which had won every game this season with a running clock, faced adversity. But much like he did last week in a 40-0 quarterfinal victory over Mt. Pleasant, Pugh carried the Quips.
The junior’s 1-yard, first-quarter run opened the scoring, and he added a 9-yard touchdown that put the Quips back on top at 22-20. Malik Wells’ 1-yard touchdown in the third quarter brought Washington within 28-26 before Pugh sealed the game with a pair of 12-yard scores in the fourth quarter.
“He’s spent some time behind two great running backs,” Aliquippa’s Mike Zmijanac said. “He’s taking advantage of an opportunity, but this is all because of our program.”
Anthony Barton added a 2-yard touchdown run for the Quips.
Brian Duermeyer is a freelance writer.