PITTSBURGH — It took an overtime period to decide the fate of Central Valley’s third WPIAL championship in school history on Saturday at Heinz Field. The Warriors held off Beaver County rival Aliquippa, 13-12, in a game that was a classic smash mouth battle from the jump.
Central Valley and Aliquippa had nearly identical stats when this game was final. The Warriors ended the game with six more yards gained than the Quips, and that was indicative of just how neck and neck the game turned out to be in the end.
Central Valley wide-receiver Michael Barbuto got in the end zone for the Warriors on a 10-yard rush on the first play of the overtime period. Barbuto got a significant push from his teammates that took him in for the score from about the four-yard line. Ethan Ott connected on the extra-point that turned out to be the deciding factor in the game.
Aliquippa still had a chance to tie or come out victorious with their offensive possession in overtime. On the Quips’ second play in the extra quarter, running back Isaiah Towler juked a few Warrior defenders and pounded it in the end zone to cut the Central Valley lead to just one point. With the Quips kicking struggles, a two-point conversion attempt was destined to end the game, one way or the other.
Isaiah Towler got the call again for Aliquippa but was stuffed at the 3-yard line by the Warriors Barbuto and Stephon Hall. The Warriors sideline stormed the field with a euphoric celebration.
Aliquippa was in control and leading by 6 points with just 9:54 remaining in the game. Central Valley found themselves with a fourth-and-6 from the Aliquippa 8-yard line. Perhaps with the game on the line, Warriors quarterback Ameer Dudley hit his receiver Jaylen Guy for only touchdown regulation for Central Valley.
Aliquippa senior wide receiver Chinua Solomon made a difference in the first half against the solidified Warriors defense. Solomon pulled in an 11-yard touchdown grab from quarterback Vaughn Morris with 22 seconds left in the first half. That was the only score of the championship until the fourth quarter. Solomon had four catches for 46 yards in the game.
Central Valley has beaten Aliquippa in three of the team’s last four meetings, including a 45-6 onslaught in the final week of the regular season.
The scoreboard wasn’t indicative of what these two teams have shown on the offensive end prior to the championship game.
Central Valley scored 42 points in both of their playoff games before the championship game and Aliquippa led 3A with 42.1 points per game.
Central Valley was led on the offensive end with a heavy dose of senior running back Jaylen Guy. Guy carried the ball 19 times for 104 yards.
Aliquippa was one-for-five in red-zone scoring in Saturday’s game.
Both teams will advance to compete in the PIAA state playoffs that start next weekend.