North Allegheny's Matt Steinbeck runs for a touchdown against La Salle College in the PIAA Class AAAA championship game at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey today.
By Mike White Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
HERSHEY, Pa. - North Allegheny High School won a state football championship tonight, and did it in dominating fashion.
North Allegheny defeated LaSalle College of Philadelphia, 21-0, in the PIAA Class AAAA title game at Hersheypark Stadium. It was only the second shutout Class AAAA championship history.
North Allegheny (15-1) used a strong running game and a staunch defense to defeat LaSalle (13-2), the defending champion. North Allegheny's win gave the WPIAL two state titles this season. Clairton won Class A on Friday. It was the second PIAA title in school history for North Allegheny. The other came 20 years ago.
North Allegheny held a 14-0 halftime lead, despite not completing a pass in the first half. The Tigers took advantage of a LaSalle fumble to get their first touchdown. After a short pass, LaSalle's Tim Wade fumbled and North Allegheny linebacker Kevin Cope recovered at the LaSalle 40. North Allegheny used nine consecutive running plays to score a touchdown and quarterback Mike Buchert capped the drive with a 4-yard run.
North Allegheny took a 14-0 lead late in the first half, using its version of the two-minute offense. In other words, no completed passes.
North Allegheny took over at the 29-yard line with 2:32 left in the half and the Tigers moved 71 yards in six plays for a score. Mike Buchert ran quarterback keepers for 15 and 17 yards to put the ball at the LaSalle 28. On the next play, Buchert ran to his right and pitched back to Matt Steinbeck, who was running to the left. The misdirection play worked to perfection as Steinbeck ran 28 yards for a touchdown with 47 seconds left in the half.
Another LaSalle mistake set up North Allegheny's third touchdown of the game. On the first possession of the second half, LaSalle's Matt Magarity threw a pass over the middle that went off a LaSalle player's hands and was intercepted by Steinbeck, who returned it 45 yards to the LaSalle 24.
Then on third-and-17, North Allegheny pulled out a trick play. An end-around pass from Brendan Coniker to Dan Slivka was good for 30 yards to the LaSalle 1. Buchert scored on the next play and the extra-point kick put North Allegheny ahead, 21-0, with 7:46 left in the third quarter.