NORTH ALLEGHENY 63, COATESVILLE 28
HERSHEY, Pa. - A dual-threat quarterback, a stout offensive line, and a hard-charging defensive front squashed Coatesville's bid for a first state football title.
In a high-scoring affair, North Allegheny, with two of its nine scores coming on fumble returns, buried the turnover-plagued Red Raiders, 63-28, Saturday night in the PIAA Class AAAA final before 6,047 at HersheyPark Stadium.
"I wish we would have come out and played better, but it wasn't our night on either side of the ball," Coatesville coach Matt Ortega said.
Two PIAA championship-game records went by wayside: points scored by a single team (63), and combined points (91).
Mack Leftwich, a shifty runner with a rocket-like arm, showed why he is headed to Texas-El Paso. Generously listed at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, he threw for 199 yards and ran for 90.
In the first half, when North Allegheny sprinted to a 35-7 lead, Leftwich hit on 12 of 15 passes for 137 yards and a score. "He's the best quarterback I ever had," Tigers coach Art Walker said. "I'm sad that's my last game with him."
The Tigers (16-0) claimed their second title in three years and third overall. En route to the crown, they outscored foes by 671-140. "That's a very good football team," said Ortega, whose squad coughed the ball up four times.
Behind a line anchored by Pat Kugler, a 6-foot-4, 280-pound left tackle and Michigan commit, the District 7 champs rushed for 257 yards on 44 attempts. Halfback Alex DiCiantis carried 21 times for 115 yards and three TDs.
On the game's first possession, Leftwich, who made good on 16 of 20 throws, directed a 12-play, 71-yard scoring drive. It was capped by his 8-yard pass to Skylar Cox.
Then, in back-to-back fashion, North Allegheny scored on fumble returns of 80 and 52 yards to put the Red Raiders (13-3) in 21-0 hole. "Those turnovers in the first half really put us behind the 8-ball," Ortega said.
Near the end of the first half, with his 89-yard TD jaunt, Coatesville junior halfback Daquan Worley (17 carries for 160 yards) set a new championship-game record and left it 35-14 at the break.
In the third quarter, Emmett Hunt's 1-yard keeper closed the gap to 14 points. But Leftwich's 17-yard toss to wideout Gregg Garrity marked thefirst of four straight scores for the Tigers.
After a slow start, Hunt completed 11 of 18 passes for 131 yards. He finished the season with 3,113 yards passing and 44 TDs, including his 43-yarder to Dre Boggs (four catches for 71 yards) in the late going.
The Red Raiders were looking to become the first Ches-Mont League team to capture state gold since the old Downingtown won in 1996.
Coatesville's defense was led by junior middle linebacker Tyler Burke, who notched 19 tackles (17 solos). Junior nose guard Mike Boykin notched a second-quarter sack.
North Allegheny 21 14 14 14-63
Coatesville 7 7 7 7-28
NA: Skylar Cox 8 pass from Mack Leftwich (Ben Ziolkowski kick)
NA: Brendan Coniker 80 fumble return (Ziolkowski kick)
NA: Kevin Edwards 52 fumble return (Jason Buchert kick)
C: Emmett Hunt 1 run (Jon Bollenbach kick)
NA: Leftwich 5 run (Ziolkowski kick)
NA: Alex DiCiantis 22 run (Buchert kick)
C: Worley 89 run (Bollenbach kick)
C: Hunt 1 run (Bollenbach kick)
NA: Gregg Garrity 17 pass from Leftwich (Ziolkowski kick)
NA: DiCiantis 1 run (Buchert kick)
NA: DiCiantis 1 run (Ziolkowski kick)
NA: Nick Cully 60 run (Buchert kick)
C: Dre Boggs 43 pass from Hunt (Bollenbach kick)