PIAA Playoffs: Quips strike early and often in rout

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Aliquippa's PIAA playoff game concluded with tears, heartbreak and a long bus ride home, the byproducts of a controversial call on a failed two-point conversion attempt late in the fourth quarter that played a big role in a one-point semifinal loss.

Friday night, there was repeat of the emotional drama of Dec. 10, 2011. There was no sadness, despair, controversy or anger, either.

Dravon Henry's gleaming smile afterwards was proof of that.

Aliquippa raced to a huge first-quarter lead and put in most of its backups midway through the second quarter as the Quips rolled to a 51-15 win against District 9 champion Karns City in a PIAA Class AA quarterfinal Friday at Central Valley.

The Quips (14-0) advanced to the semifinals for the second year in a row. They will meet the winner of the game today between District 10 champion Hickory (11-1) and District 6 champion Richland (13-0).

Karns City (10-4), located in northeastern Butler County, was no match for Aliquippa. The Quips jumped to a 31-0 advantage late in the opening quarter. They led, 44-0, at halftime, outgaining Karns City, 355-40.

Karns City (10-4) scored two second-half touchdowns, but both came against Aliquippa's backups.

"I've watched a lot of football, and this is the best team I've seen," said Karns City coach Ed Conto, who has been a head coach for 28 years. "They're just really fast on both sides of the ball. I'd be surprised if that team doesn't win the state championship."

It was the continuation of a recurring theme. Aliquippa, which won its 15th WPIAL title last week, has won every game by at least 27 points, outscoring its opponents, 709-64. It marked the seventh time the Quips have scored at least 50 points.

"We don't like to think about how good we are," said Henry, who rushed for 119 yards and two touchdowns on five carries.

"We just feel like we have to go out and play hard every week."

Aliquippa ran for 428 yards, including four touchdowns of at least 60 yards from Henry (63 yards), Jyier Turner (69), Malik Shegog (60) and freshman Kaezon Pugh (64).

Terry Swanson, who ran for 206 yards in the WPIAL championship, finished with 70 yards and two touchdowns on six carries.

"I think we were just bigger and stronger than they were, and that's football," said Aliquippa coach Mike Zmijanac.

Karns City had 153 yards and benefitted slightly from 12 Aliquippa penalties.

Henry, one of the top junior running backs in the state, flashed his talent right from the start, bursting for a 45-yard gain on Aliquippa's first offensive play. He finished the drive with a six-yard touchdown run. Shegog connected with Dajon Perry for the two-point conversion, and the rout was on.

On their final five touchdown drives of the first half, Aliquippa needed 31 seconds, 44 seconds, 67 seconds, 13 seconds and 97 seconds to find the end zone.

"It feels great going back to the semifinals," said Henry, whose team is hoping to win its third PIAA title in two weeks.

"That was a heartbreaker last year. We just have to take care of business this time."


First Published December 1, 2012 5:00 AM


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