Bishop McDevitt claims its first title in 27 years, beating Aliquippa for the 4A crown, 41-18
Written by: Joseph Santoliquito on Thursday, December 8th, 2022. Follow Joseph Santoliquito on Twitter.
Photo courtesy of Matt Topper
MECHANICSBURG, PA — It haunted them. Bishop McDevitt senior receiver Tyshawn Russell sat on the edge of his couch after last year’s state title loss to Aliquippa and replayed it 10 times the next morning. Crusaders’ senior two-way lineman Riley Robell couldn’t sleep at all, anxious to cut up the tape to see what he did wrong.
Hardly anything went wrong Thursday night, when McDevitt got redemption by beating Aliquippa, 41-18, in a rematch of last year’s PIAA Class 4A state championship at Chapman Field at Cumberland Valley High School.
Both Robell and Russell played major parts in the Crusaders’ championship. Robell caused a fumble that resulted in a McDevitt touchdown and Russell had four touchdown receptions for a total of 121 yards receiving.
“I remember last year watching the game film 10 times (of the state championship), and I didn’t play offense that much last year,” Russell said. “Coming over to offense, I knew no one could guard me. I got my shot and I knew what I could do. I was hungry to get back here. We could have beaten them last year. We could have two right now, but I’m happy with one.”
This was McDevitt’s sixth appearance in the state championship (1995, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2021, and 2022). The Crusaders broke their four-game state title losing streak to capture their second state crown and first since 1995 when McDevitt was a Class 2A school.
The Crusaders (13-1) also snapped Aliquippa’s 24-game winning streak, which was the longest in the state. The McDevitt victory prevented the 2022 Quips from becoming the first repeat state championship in Aliquippa history and the first Quips’ team to be an undefeated state champion.
“I couldn’t sleep all night after we lost last year,” admitted Robell, who’s committed to James Madison. “As soon as I got the YouTube cut up in the Hudl, I had it up on my TV and just sat in my bed watching it over and over. I critiqued myself time and time again. I don’t think I ever watched a game as much as I watched that one.
“I can tell you every play, every step. I had it marked the whole way across. That game is burned in my memory. In between every play I played today, I was thinking about that game. This is the greatest feeling in the world. It didn’t matter how good they were. We felt we could do anything against them. I knew it was going to be hard-nosed football, it was a matter of who hit who harder.
“We hit harder.”
Aliquippa (13-1) turned the ball over three times during a four-possession span from midway into the second quarter to early in the third quarter. It translated into three McDevitt touchdowns and essentially the game.
Crusaders’ 6-2, 200-pound sophomore quarterback Stone Saunders completed 10 of 16 for 167 yards, five touchdowns—and three interceptions, equaling his season total.
“They just beat us tonight, they were the better team and I tip my hat to those guys,” Aliquippa coach Mike Warfield said. “We had a few turnovers at the beginning of the game and some bad decision-making, but they beat us. No excuses. It’s as simple as that.”
Senior tailback Marquese Williams sealed the victory for the Crusaders with a two-yard score with 5:27 to play, squashing the Quips’ late comeback bid when Tiqwai Hayes and Quentin Goode added cosmetic scores to make the game look closer than it actually was.
The Crusaders ran off 50 plays for 277 yards of total offense, averaging 5.5 yards a play, to the Quips’ meager 135 yards of total offense, averaging 2.4. Another staggering stat was the Quips only converted 1 of 10 third downs.
McDevitt never trailed. The Crusaders went into halftime holding a 20-6 lead, scoring 13 points off of two Quips turnovers.
By halftime, Saunders completed six of seven passes for 113 yards and three touchdowns (Aliquippa had only 21 yards passing at halftime).
Of Aliquippa’s seven first-half drives, the Quips punted four times, going 1-for-6 on third-down conversions, scored on one series, and had two turnovers, an interception and a fumble that resulted in McDevitt scores.
An early turning point came when McDevitt’s Ty Kephart stepped in front of a Goode pass and returned the interception 62 yards to the Aliquippa six with just over five minutes left in the half. A one-yard loss and a false start pushed the ball back to the 12, where Saunders found Russell for a touchdown in the back of the end zone.
After a parade of flags for the extra point, the Quips wound up blocking the extra point, giving the Crusaders a one-score 13-6 edge with 5:09 left in the half.
On the following possession, the Quips’ offensive problems continued. Robell forced Hayes to fumble at the Aliquippa 25 and the Crusaders capitalized when Saunders threw his third touchdown of the half, a 12-yard strike to Rico Scott for a 20-6 McDevitt lead.
McDevitt struck first and struck fast. On the Crusaders’ first play, Saunders hit a breaking Russell for a 70-yard touchdown pass. The play completely shocked the Aliquippa defense. Russell went untouched.
After three-straight drives of three-and-out for the Quips, they finally got a huge break when defensive back Brandon Banks made a diving interception on the sideline at the McDevitt 31.
That got the Quips’ offense going momentarily.
Aliquippa used nine plays to travel 31 yards over 4:30 to get within 7-6, the big play of the drive was when Hayes plowed three yards to the nine on a fourth-and-one at the McDevitt 12. After a one-yard loss, Goode lofted a 10-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Lindsey with :47 left in the first quarter. When McDevitt was flagged with an encroachment penalty on the extra-point kick, Warfield opted to try for two. McDevitt stuffed Hayes, preserving McDevitt’s slim 7-6 lead.
It’s the closest the Quips would get.
Bishop McDevitt (13-1) 7 13 14 7-41
Aliquippa (13-1) 6 0 6 6-18
MC – Tyshawn Russell 70 pass from Stone Saunders (Gustavo Garcia kick), 10:20
A – Cameron Lindsey 10 pass from Quentin Goode (run failed), :47
MC – Russell 12 pass from Saunders (kick failed), 5:10
MC – Rico Scott 12 pass from Saunders (Garcia kick), 2:58
MC – Russell 28 pass from Saunders (Garcia kick), 10:12
MC – Russell 11 pass from Saunders (Garcia kick), 4:19
A – Tiqwai Hayes 45 INT return (kick failed), 2:07
A – Goode 1 run (pass failed), 10:41
MC – Marquese Williams 2 run (Garcia kick), 5:27
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been covering high school football since 1992 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on Twitter @JSantoliquito. Follow EasternPAFootball.com on Twitter @EPAFootball.
Follow EasternPAFootball.com on Twitter @EPAFootball
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