Aliquippa tops Mt. Pleasant in Class AA for 8th consecutive WPIAL semifinal berth
Aliquippa is going to the WPIAL semifinals for the eighth straight season.
The second-seeded Quips used their top-ranked offense and suffocating defense to beat No. 7 Mt. Pleasant, 40-0, in a Class AA quarterfinal Friday at Canon-McMillan.
Aliquippa (11-0) will play No. 3 Washington (11-0) in the semifinals next week.
Kaezon Pugh led the way for Aliquippa, rushing for a game-high 194 yards and five touchdowns — four in the first half.
“He’s a running back — running backs are supposed to run,” Aliquippa coach Mike Zmijanac said. “I don’t know what to say. My wife told me I have a problem with dispensing praise.”
The Aliquippa defense was equally impressive, holding Mt. Pleasant (8-3) to 173 yards and intercepting four passes.
“That was everything,” Zmijanac said. “We jumped on them, and defensively, we played really well. They had to throw the ball, and we had some picks, and the game was over.”
Mt. Pleasant committed five turnovers when the teams met in a Week 8 nonconference matchup. Aliquippa won that game 63-14.
The Quips were not perfect in the second meeting, committing 10 penalties for 95 yards and losing two fumbles.
“We knew going into this game that we were going to have to play a near-perfect game to pull off the upset,” Mt. Pleasant coach Bo Ruffner said. “We needed to be able to win the turnover battle. We found a way to create a few turnovers, but we just turned it over too many times here tonight.”
The Vikings have not won a quarterfinal game since 1996.
Pugh opened the scoring on Aliquippa’s second play, rushing for a 56-yard touchdown 21 seconds in. The 6-foot, 203-pound back added first-half scores of 3, 5 and 10 yards before tacking on a 53-yarder in the third quarter.
On defense, Darrien Fields had two interceptions for the Quips, and Jassir Jordan returned an interception 64 yards for a touchdown late in the first half.
Sheldon Jeter also had an interception for Aliquippa.
Aliquippa’s semifinal matchup with Washington will be a rematch of the 2012 WPIAL Class AA final, which the Quips won 34-7 to claim their 15th and most recent WPIAL title.
The Quips are seeking a WPIAL-record 16th championship.
“My Serbian friend (Washington coach Mike Bosnic) and I will get together, and we’ll play again,” Zmijanac said. “It should be a good one.”
Ray Judy is a freelance writer.