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PINE TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Friday night’s expected capacity crowd for North Allegheny and Pine-Richland did not disappoint.
With a conference championship on the line and bye-weeks in the opening round of the 6A playoffs, both teams had a lot to play for, and the proximity of the school districts meant a lot of people were going to show up.
So many so, most walking into the stadium found the score 14-0 before they even sat down.
Pine-Richland (9-1, 7-1) scored two touchdowns on just four offensive plays, and the Rams held a 14-0 lead 3:27 into the first quarter on the way to a 42-14 victory over North Allegheny.
The Rams received the opening kickoff and scored on the second offensive play when Cole Spencer found Eli Jochem for 79 yards down the seam.
After a North Allegheny (9-1, 7-1) punt, Pine-Richland again scored on their second offensive play, this time when Spencer found D’avay Johnson for 78 yards down the near sideline.
North Allegheny showed some resiliency when Ben Petschke found Luke Colella on a 52-yard screen pass and the lead was cut from 14-7.
The Tigers scored on their next offensive possession when Percise Colon scored from 34 yards out and the game was tied early in the second quarter.
Pine-Richland’s offense capitalized on a chance to score late in the second half when Spencer found Jochem on a fourth down to set the Rams up with a first and goal from the six. Two plays later Spencer found Jochem again for eight yards and a go-ahead touchdown 21-14.
Spencer had 250 yards passing and three touchdowns in the first half.
The Rams came out hot in the second half scoring on two touchdown passes from Spencer to Eli Jochem and Luke Miller.
Pine-Richland extended the lead further in the fourth quarter when Ben Petschke was intercepted on back-to-back passes, both of which led to Rams’ touchdowns.
Jochem caught his third touchdown pass of the night and Meckler capped the scoring with an eight-yard touchdown run, given the Rams a 42-14 lead.
The win, coupled with a Central Catholic win, forced a three-way tie for first place and tiebreaker points were brought into play.
Central Catholic’s 62 points were just ahead of Pine-Richlands 60, and the Tigers finished in third place.
More importantly, Central Catholic and Pine-Richland earn first-round byes in the playoffs, and the Tigers will be forced to win three games in order to win a WPIAL Championship.
Spencer finished the night with 396 passing yards and five touchdowns. Jochem and Johnson went for 220 and 155 yards and four combined touchdowns.
Petschke threw two interceptions to go along with one touchdown and 98 yards on just five completions.
Colon led all rushers with 77 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown.