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Game of the Week

Aliquippa cruises past Ellwood City

Ellwood City (9) vs. Aliquippa (35)
Written: Oct 08, 2011
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Ellwood City Lincoln High threw a staggering first punch last night.

Aliquippa delivered the decisive knockout.

The Quips overcame Kyle Crawford’s 82-yard touchdown run for 35-straight points and settled for a 35-9 win in a WPIAL Class AA Midwestern Conference battle at Helling Stadium.

The Wolverines (3-2 conference, 4-2 overall) stopped Aliquippa, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s top-ranked PIAA’s top-ranked Class AA squad, on its first drive and forced a punt.

Ellwood took over on its own 18. Crawford, a senior, grabbed the handoff and burst 82 yards untouched up the middle and outraced several defenders into the end zone. Scott Lewis added the PAT kick for a quick 7-0 lead.

“Here’s the deal – it’s a long game. Sometimes, you have to learn to overcome adversity. If you’re supposed to be that good, then you better learn how to do it because it’s not always going to go that easily for you,” Aliquippa coach Mike Zmijanac said. “They were prepared. Obviously, they had something they thought was going to go early and it did. We recouped and did what we had to do.”

Undaunted, the Quips (6-0, 6-0) needed just four plays to retaliate. Dravon Henry reached paydirt on a 2-yard run. The conversion run failed, which left the hosts with a 7-6 edge.

Following a Wolverines punt, Aliquippa embarked on another scoring march. This time, Mikal Hall fired a pass to Devon Walker for a 10-yard scoring strike. Henry hauled in Hall’s conversion toss to give the guests a 14-7 edge with 3:49 left in the first quarter.

Ellwood appeared headed on a game-tying drive as it marched deep in Aliquippa territory. However, Henry sprinted in front of Bryan Graebing’s pass, snagged it in stride and burst down the near sideline for a 75-yard pick-6 interception. Terry Swanson’s run made it a 22-7 game with 7:50 before halftime.

“That hurt; there’s no doubt. That just took the air right out of kids. We thought we had some things going. Even though we were down, we weren’t out, so to speak. That doesn’t help at all,” Ellwood coach Don Phillips said. “Those things happen in game and you have to rebound. If you’re going to be a good football team and you have thoughts of competing in this conference, you have to step up and meet that challenge.”

The Quips added to their lead with 3:53 left on the clock. Hall took to the skies for a 48-yard aerial strike to Kaylan Kenney. The receiver bobbled the ball before he secured it, broke free from a defender and scooted into the end zone. Robert Kish booted the PAT for a 29-7 advantage.

Aliquippa had a chance to add even more padding to its lead before halftime. Malik Stewart’s interception set up the drive. Yet, Ellwood put an end to it when Morella picked off a pass at the Wolverines’ 1-yard line with 1.5 seconds on the clock.

The Quips cashed in on their first possession of the second half. Following an Ellwood punt, Henry broke loose for a 62-yard scoring hike. The conversion run failed, which left the guests with a 35-7 margin.

Neither team sustained much momentum the rest of the contest. The Wolverines added a safety in the fourth quarter when Nicholas Valentino tackled Anthony Barton in the end zone with 4:47 to play.

“We made a better effort in the second half. When you play a team like Aliquippa with the talent, speed and quickness, you have to meet that aggression and we didn’t,” Phillips said. “They are very good. They hurt you with a lot of weapons. They run a lot of kids in and out and they have just a lot of different weapons. You have to play flawless and you have to get after them. They have that tradition going; they play with confidence. We need to get to that level; we need to play with that same kind of confidence.”

Other than Crawford’s 82-yard spree on Ellwood’s first play, the Quips put the clamps on the Wolverines. They allowed the hosts only 97 yards the rest of the fray.

“We had a game plan going in and I don’t think that first play was a part of it,” Zmijanac. We had a plan on how to defend them and, outside of a few pass plays after that first play, I thought we played really well.”

Ellwood visits Laurel on Friday for a key Midwestern Conference battle, while the Quips enter into the ring of battle with Beaver for the conference lead.

(E-mail: ncsports@ncnewsonline.com).

ALIQUIPPA ELLWOOD

15 First downs 6

342 Yards Rushing 131

24 Yards Lost 28

318 Net Rushing 103

11 Passes Attempted 12

6 Passes Completed 4

1 Passes Intercepted 3

112 Yards Passing 76

430 Total Yards 179

2-1 Fumbles-Lost 0-0

3-33.3 Punts-Average 7-37.4

8-55 Penalties-Yards 5-27

ALIQUIPPA 14 15 6 0 —35

ELLWOOD 7 0 0 2 —9

Scoring plays

ELLWOOD CITY — Kyle Crawford, 82-yard run (Scott Lewis kick)

ALIQUIPPA — Dravon Henry, 2-yard run (run failed)

ALIQUIPPA — Devon Walker, 10-yard pass from Mikal Hall (Henry pass from Hall)

ALIQUIPPA — Henry, 75-yard interception return (Terry Swanson run)

ALIQUIPPA — Kaylan Kenney, 48-yard pass from Hall (Robert Kish kick)

ALIQUIPPA — Henry, 62-yard run (run failed)

ELLWOOD CITY — Safety, Anthony Barton tackled in end zone
GAME SCOREBOARD
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 OT SCORE
Ellwood City 7 0 0 2 0 9
Aliquippa 14 15 6 0 0 35
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