Behind its swarming defense, Aliquippa improved to 7-0, blanking Clairton, 28-0, Friday night at the Pit.
It was a matchup of two of Pennsylvania’s premiere small-school programs, but the game itself was overshadowed by penalties and sloppy play. The teams combined for 38 penalties for 303 yards and just 223 yards of total offense.
For the Quips, it was their fourth straight shutout, and their defense has yet to allow an offensive touchdown in 336 minutes of play.
“We played really good defense,” Aliquippa head coach Mike Zmijanac said after the game. “They’re playing as a team, and we don’t seem to have a whole lot of weaknesses. We played really well, and Coach [Peep] Short and his defensive staff are doing a great job defensively.”
Clairton (5-2) finished with only 12 yards of offense, and the Bears recorded just 12 plays that netted positive yards. Their first three drives of the game all started in Aliquippa territory, but the Quips defense turned back the visitors each time, including stopping the Bears on fourth-and-two just minutes into the game.
Aliquippa led 20-0 at the break on Deoveon Crute’s six-yard scoring catch and a pair of short touchdowns runs by Tariq Jones.
Content with the lead and the play of its defense, Aliquippa worked the clock in the second half. Avante McKenzie capped the scoring with a six-yard score with 8:23 left in the game.
McKenzie paced the Quip offense with 125 rushing yards, and Eli Kosanovich threw for 66 yards and a score.
Clairton entered the game averaging 32 points a contest but had no answering for the Quips’ suffocating defense. Aliquippa’s Dajour Fisher and Xiyrail Barnat each registered a sack, and Marlin Devonshire collected his first interception of the season.
“Every week we come in with the same goal and that’s not to let opposing teams score,” Devonshire said. “They came in and thought they were going to score. They were talking a lot, taunting us before the game, and that motivated us a little bit extra.”
Crute hauled in the game’s opening score with 5:23 left in the first quarter. A pair of long McKenzie runs and a William Gipson 20-yard catch and run set up the touchdown. Aliquippa opened the second quarter with a nine-play, 63-yard drive, capped by Jones’ first touchdown.
Jones added his second score minutes later after the Quips stopped the Bears on fourth-and-two from the Clairton 28-yard line. It took Aliquippa just six plays to score and all but put the game out of reach.
It was the second straight loss for Clairton, which had not lost consecutive regular season games since 2005, and first regular season road loss in eight years (2009). The Bears will look to get back in the win column next week at Leechburg.
While the victory keeps the Quips undefeated and avenges last year’s 52-16 loss to Clairton, Zmijanac stressed more important games are ahead.
“This game was not important,” Zmijanac said. “It wasn’t important before, it’s not important now, and it won’t be important tomorrow.”
Aliquippa travels to unbeaten Quaker Valley next week in a showdown of the Beaver Valley Conference’s top two teams. The Quakers defeated Beaver Valley, 42-14, Friday night to improve to 7-0.
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