It took all of about 10 plays on Friday night for Aliquippa to prove that Mars was no match for the mighty Quips.
After giving up a touchdown on the No. 4 Planets’ opening possession, No. 1 Aliquippa promptly answered with six consecutive touchdowns to activate the mercy rule en route to a convincing 47-24 WPIAL Class 4A semifinal win at North Allegheny High School. Playing the entire game in a rainstorm that refused to let up, record-setting senior quarterback Quentin “Cheese“ Goode tossed a trio of touchdown passes for the Quips, and Tiqwai “Tikey” Hayes, Cameron Lindsey and Arison Walker each found the end zone twice in the blowout victory.
Now, Aliquippa is “going home.”
For the Quips and their fans, “home” means another trip to Acrisure Stadium on Thanksgiving weekend, as Aliquippa extended its unfathomable streak of WPIAL championship game appearances to 16 consecutive seasons. The two-time defending champion Quips (11-0) will collide with No. 2 McKeesport for the WPIAL Class 4A crown at Acrisure Stadium at 8 p.m. Friday.
“I thought the coaches had a really good scheme, and the kids were playing fast and violent, so I’m pleased with that,” said Aliquippa coach Mike Warfield. “It takes us a second sometimes [to get going]. … I think even with the weather conditions, we still were able to throw the ball whenever we wanted to throw the ball. ‘Cheese’ has done a great job.”
Despite the unfavorable conditions, Goode was nearly flawless, completing 9-of-12 passes for 169 yards and three touchdowns while displaying complete command of the Quips’ offense. His career record as a starter now stands at 37-2, and he will soon become the first quarterback in school history to start in three WPIAL championship games.
“It feels good, especially to know that I’m the only quarterback in [Aliquippa] history to do it three times in a row,” Goode said. “We were practicing with wet balls all week, so that really helped us. … I give all my props to the receivers. They could have easily just dropped everything, but they caught it, and they made plays.”
Hayes was electric as always, rushing for 196 yards and a pair of scores on 13 carries while doing most of his damage in the first half. Meanwhile, his backfield mate John Tracy continued to cement his status as one of the top backup running backs in the state. Tracy rushed for 46 yards on 10 carries and caught two passes for 83 yards, including a highlight-reel 78-yard TD reception that saw him obliterate a pair of would-be tacklers before racing down the sideline for six.
“His stature might give you a false impression, but [Tracy] is probably one of the toughest kids on the team,” Warfield said. “He’s one of those kids who just can do it all. You should see some of the things he does at practice. He has quickness, he has speed, and he’s tough as nails. … It’s just good to see how him and ‘Tikey’ complement each other.”
A Pitt recruit and four-star linebacker with a knack for bone-crunching hits, Lindsey got in on the fun on offense on Friday with three carries for 14 yards and a touchdown along with three receptions for 41 yards and a score. His 24-yard receiving TD on Aliquippa’s opening drive gave the Quips a lead they would never relinquish, and he made sure of it by flying all over the field on defense with his smash-mouth style of play.
“Not even just myself, but as a team — we all played great tonight,” Lindsey said. “They run a hurry-up offense, so we had to get used to them adjusting quick. But I think once we figured it out schematically, we were able to keep up with them.”
The game couldn’t have gotten off to a better start for the Planets (10-3), who marched right down the field with a 14-play scoring drive on their opening possession, capped off by Evan Wright’s 1-yard TD plunge on fourth-and-goal. For Wright, it was touchdown No. 34 in a spectacular senior season, but it would be his only highlight of the night as Aliquippa’s punishing defense kept him and the rest of Mars’ offensive weapons in check. Wright finished the game with 48 yards on 18 carries, giving him 1,847 yards rushing for the year.
“Playing against other teams’ good running backs, that motivates us, because we know we’ve got to be on our A-game, too,” Lindsey said. “We’ve got to play our A-game if we want to get to games like this.”
Mars fans had a brief moment to celebrate before Arison Walker returned the ensuing kickoff for an 84-yard TD, kickstarting a surge of 40 consecutive points by the Quips before the Planets even knew what hit them. Lindsey’s go-ahead 24-yard TD reception capped off Aliquippa’s first drive, then Hayes performed a disappearing act after seemingly running into a crowd of bodies near the line of scrimmage, before re-emerging and turning on the jets for a 73-yard TD run.
Just like that, after only 10 offensive plays, the Quips had turned a 7-0 deficit into an 18-7 lead — and they were just getting started.
“Everybody is lethal with the ball in their hands,” Walker said about Aliquippa’s bevy of playmakers on offense. “Everybody can score, everybody has speed. We just trust our speed to get us to the end zone.”
Next up, it was Tracy doing his best Marshawn Lynch impression after catching a dump-off from Goode on third-and-8. A pair of defenders met him near the first-down line, but Tracy simply ran right through them and sprinted down the sideline for a 78-yard score. Then, with the Quips facing fourth-and-1 near midfield on their next possession, Hayes broke free for a 46-yard scamper down the sideline, setting up Lindsey’s 4-yard TD run to make it a 34-7 halftime lead.
Hayes needed only two carries in the second half to put the game out of reach, as his 48-yard TD run on the second play of the third quarter made it a 40-7 ballgame. After a field goal by the Planets cut it to 40-10, Walker hauled in a pass from Goode and made a couple of defenders miss with some nifty moves on his way to the end zone for a 26-yard TD. Walker’s score activated the mercy rule and prompted Warfield to rest his starters for the remainder of the game as Aliquippa cruised toward yet another WPIAL championship appearance.
“We plan on coming very focused,” Tracy said. “Make no mistakes, come play physical and fast. … It’s going to be really physical. I love it.”
Other Class 4A semifinal
It will be a colossal collision of two historic Western Pa. powerhouses in the WPIAL Class 4A championship game, as No. 2 McKeesport (11-1) used its stifling defense and trademark triple-option offense to grind out a 28-14 win against No. 3 Montour (10-2) at West Mifflin High School.
Senior running back Keith Spell had a game to remember for the Tigers, rushing for 190 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries while registering five sacks on defense. His younger brother, freshman phenom Kemon Spell, rushed for 123 yards and scored the team’s only other touchdown on a 57-yard run on the final play of the third quarter to break open a 14-14 tie.
McKeesport and Aliquippa have faced off in the WPIAL semifinals in each of the past two seasons, but they have never met in the WPIAL title game — until now. The Quips prevailed in a 27-21 double-overtime thriller in the 2021 semifinals before blowing the doors off the Tigers last year by a score of 42-7. This time, the two ultra-physical programs will meet for all the marbles as McKeesport makes its first WPIAL championship appearance since 2016.