TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, 11:06 p.m.
Updated 13 hours ago
That North Allegheny gave up a touchdown against North Hills on Friday night at Newman Stadium likely will go down as a footnote in any assessment of how the Tigers’ defense performed compared to its predecessors.
A lockdown effort for three-plus quarters led No. 6 North Allegheny (7-2, 5-2) over the Indians, 31-7, at home to secure third place in the Quad North.
No. 7 North Hills (6-3, 4-3), which was shut out in its past three meetings with the Tigers, avoided a fourth with a score in the game’s final five minutes. The loss dropped the Indians to fourth in the conference.
“We played all-in and relentless, and that means the world to us,” senior linebacker Layne Skundrich said.
Able to hold North Hills’ offense to two first downs and just 44 yards in six possessions, North Allegheny built an 18-0 halftime lead.
North Hills gained 11 yards on its first play from scrimmage, a run up the middle by Nick Santucci. Not much in the way of progress followed.
“We had a game plan, and we tried to execute it, but they were better than us up front, and it made it really difficult for us to move the football,” North Hills coach Pat Carey said.
The Tigers scored their first points through persistence. They converted three third downs — including a third-and-18 — and a fourth-and-2 during a 74-yard drive that ended with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Jeff Clemens to Paul Blendinger.
North Allegheny’s lead increased to 15-0 with 6:42 left in the second quarter after Mike Pope scored on a 2-yard run. On the previous play, Tigers defensive back Clay Byerly intercepted Indians quarterback Jake Bruder and returned the ball 42 yards to set up Pope’s TD.
The ensuing possession for North Allegheny opened with a 76-yard screen pass to Josh Bergman, who raced to North Hills’ 2-yard line. A 24-yard field goal by Seth Mancuso followed
Clemens completed 5 of 11 passes for 133 yards in the first half. He added two rushing scores in the second half and finished with 141 yards passing.
A breakthrough for North Hills came late in the fourth quarter. NA’s kickoff hit an Indians blocker, and NH fell on the ball at their 47.
Wide receiver Kindhal Taylor, operating as a wildcat quarterback, carried three times for 38 yards on the drive, the final 22 of which came on a touchdown run.
“I have a great defensive staff,” NA coach Art Walker said. “Those guys do a great job of breaking things down and making it simple for the kids. It was a tribute to them tonight. And it kind of opened up our playbook a little more, because when your defense is playing well, you can afford to take a few chances.”
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.