WEXFORD – The formula is going to be pretty simple for North Allegheny this season: play great defense and have the offense capitalize.
The Tigers record improved to 3-0 (2-0 in Class 6A) with a 27-3 win over Central Catholic at Newman Stadium on Friday.
North Allegheny held the Vikings to just 106 yards of offense while forcing six turnovers (three interceptions and three fumble recoveries). The Tigers also converted a fake-punt to keep a drive going that eventually turned into a touchdown.
“We feel, right now, that we’re the best defense in the state,” said Corey Melzer. “We’re not cocky, but when you know you’re the best, it makes you play better. We knew they ran the ball a lot, so we had to fill the gaps.”
Ben Maenza scored both North Allegheny touchdowns while racking significant yardage on the ground and away the best offensive player for both teams.
Melzer had two interceptions while Joey Porter Jr. also grabbed an interception in the win.
The Tigers scored 10 points off Central Catholic turnovers.
“It makes it 100-times easier when you know your defense is going to make almost every time. It gives us confidence on the offensive side, it just makes everything easier,” said Maenza.
Maenza scored on runs of five and 10 in the first and second quarter before Central Catholic cut into the lead with a field goal. The senior rushed 22 times for 119 yards to go along with the two touchdowns.
The North Allegheny offense appeared to be in neutral for the rest of the evening except for two Isaac West field goals (22 and 39 yards).
The Tigers scored two late fourth quarter touchdowns but the game had long been decided.
The win snaps a three-game win streak for Central Catholic over North Allegheny.
WHEN IN PITTSBURGH …
Penn State head coach James Franklin and cornerbacks coach Terry Smith took in the game while they were in the area for the Pitt-Penn State game on Saturday. Porter, Jr., has a Penn State offer, as well as offers from Pitt, LSU, Miami and Nebraska, among others.