It’s hard to imagine Aliquippa senior linebacker Cam Lindsey had anything left to accomplish at Acrisure Stadium in his high school career.
“I ain’t never been in the end zone there,” he said.
The Pitt recruit made himself right at home there Friday night in his final game with the Quips on the North Shore.
After breaking open a scoreless tie in the WPIAL Class 4A championship against McKeesport with a 39-yard fumble return for a touchdown, Lindsey scored twice more on offense to lead Aliquippa to its third consecutive title with a 35-21 victory over McKeesport.
Aliquippa now has 20 WPIAL championships in 34 appearances in the district title game.
“It’s never old when you get to play up here every year,” Lindsey said. “It’s just an accomplishment to all the hard work we’ve done all year. Moments like this just show that hard work does pay off.”
Aliquippa, which has played in the WPIAL title game 16 consecutive seasons, now has four titles under sixth-year coach Mike Warfield.
“It feels great,” said Warfield, whose program now owns a WPIAL-best 782 all-time wins with more than 100 coming in the postseason. “I’m so excited and proud of the kids. I thought they played well. Even when we went down, we didn’t budge. I’m proud of them. I’m very proud of them.”
Class 4A No. 1-seeded Aliquippa (12-0) rushed for 199 yards against a stout No. 2 McKeesport defense, led by standout junior running back Tiqwai Hayes, who rushed for 113 yards on 17 carries.
Lindsay finished with 36 yards and two scores on seven carries for the Quips, while John Tracy added 43 yards on 12 carries.
“It’s really normal, I ain’t even happy, I just want to go to states,” said Hayes, a Penn State recruit. “I want to get to states and win. That’s where the fun is. This, it feels normal for us.”
For Aliquippa quarterback Quentin Goode, winning at Acrisure Stadium is starting to feel reflexive as well.
Goode, who is the first Quips starting quarterback to preside over three consecutive WPIAL titles, completed 8-of-14 passes for 157 yards and 2 touchdowns. He completed a 23-yard scoring strike to Demarkus Walker in the second quarter to hand Aliquippa a lead it wouldn’t relinquish before connecting with Michael Gaskins for a 9-yard touchdown pass that rounded out the scoring with 4:14 left in the fourth.
“It feels great, especially being the only quarterback to do this in Quip history, it feels great,” Goode said. “I’m embracing it now, but it ain’t over. This is only part two. First it was conference, now it’s WPIALs, now it’s state playoffs.”
For McKeesport (11-2), it was the third time in a row Aliquippa has ended its season.
The Quips dispatched of the Tigers, 27-21, in double overtime in 2021 before earning a 42-7 victory in 2022. Both losses came in the WPIAL semifinals.
“We blew a couple coverages,” McKeesport coach Matt Miller said. “We turned over the ball a couple times. A couple things went awry. That’s about it.”
McKeesport, which was outgained, 356-225, committed five critical turnovers. The Tigers lost two fumbles, and quarterback Garrett Tarker threw two interceptions.
Senior Keith Spell, who rushed for 55 yards on 11 carries, paced McKeesport’s offense.
Tarker threw for 106 yards and a 28-yard touchdown to Kemon Spell, while also rushing for 17 yards and a score.
Despite the loss Friday night, Miller said his team has much to build upon after his team advanced to the WPIAL title game for the first time since 2016.
“It was a great year,” said Miller, a 1992 McKeesport graduate, whose program has four WPIAL championships and two PIAA titles. “Great kids, they’re an absolute joy to be around every day. I did not want to see it end just like they didn’t. I really thought we had a chance. It started off the way we wanted to. We just couldn’t keep it going.”
After trading a couple of empty possessions to open the game, both teams opened the scoring with touchdowns all within the final 20 seconds of the first quarter.
The Quips defense opened the scoring when junior defensive back Arison Walker forced a fumble by Tarker and Lindsey returned the ball 39 yards for a touchdown with 17 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
McKeesport responded when Richard Beermann returned the ensuing kickoff 73 yards for a score that tied the game at 7-7 with five seconds left in the quarter.
“We knew if we’d get rid of the penalties, and then we had that special-teams play we gave up, we knew if we just settled down and kept grinding eventually our backs our tough,” Warfield said. “You get tired of tackling them at certain points of the game. That’s what you saw.”
Aliquippa began taking control of the game in the final three minutes of the first half.
McKeesport took a 14-7 lead on a 3-yard touchdown run by Tarker, but the momentum wouldn’t last.
The Quips embarked on an 11-play, 72-yard drive, which spanned 4:05, and was punctuated with a 2-yard touchdown run by Lindsey that tied the score at 14-14 with 2:28 left in the half.
When sophomore defensive back QaLil Goode intercepted a Tarker pass, Aliquippa took a lead it would not relinquish three plays later.
Quentin Goode connected with Demarkus Walker for a 23-yard scoring strike, which gave the Quips a 21-14 advantage with 45 seconds left before half.
Lindsey then opened the scoring in the second half with a 12-yard touchdown run that made the Aliquippa lead 27-14 with 3:48 left in the third.
“We started to run the ball more, that’s where I feel like it really kicked in at,” Hayes said. “At first we had penalties, penalties were getting to us. When we eliminated penalties, we saw they couldn’t really stop us.”
Aliquippa advances to face Selinsgrove in the PIAA playoffs.
“This thing is precious,” Warfield said of his team’s postseason dominance. “We don’t want to drop it. Obviously, this thing is like a crystal glass. If you drop it, it’s going to shatter into a thousand pieces. You might be able to glue it together, but it’s not going to look the same. I’m trying to hold this thing tight and not take anything for granted.
“We’ll get back at it tomorrow,” he added. “We’ll look at the tape tomorrow and see what we need to improve on, but we’re going to enjoy today.”