ALIQUIPPA, Pa. — In a rematch of the hotly contested 2019 Class-3A Championship game, Central Valley once again reigned supreme over Aliquippa.
Under the lights on a beautiful Friday night, Central Valley rode senior running back Landon Alexander – literally – to a 21-12 victory over Aliquippa at Carl A. Aschman Memorial Stadium.
Fresh off a 201 yard, three touchdown (with an added punt return touchdown) performance a week ago against Blackhawk High School, Alexander once again fueled the Warriors’ offense, busting off 75-yard and 49-yard runs and flipping into the end zone for an acrobatic touchdown.
With CV senior quarterback Matt Merritt going down with an injury early in the first quarter, in a walking boot by halftime, it fell on Alexander to take over. And he delivered.
Alexander broke the contest open with a field-flipping 75-yard dash through the left side of the Quips’ defensive front, breaking a handful of tackles before being brought down on the Quips’ 7-yard line. He quickly finished what he started with a touchdown on the next play as time ticked away toward the end of the first quarter.
The answering drive from the Quips, in which Quips junior quarterback Quentin Goode flashed his arm strength on a 3rd-and-21 for a big conversion, ended with a Goode’s arm strength failing him on an interception from CV junior safety Jayvin Thompson that was returned 53 yards to set up the Warriors with another scoring chance.
CV wasted no time in capitalizing. With a 4th-and-goal from the two-yard line, Alexander took a pitch with a nice one-handed snag, bounced the run outside and literally flipped into the end zone over a Quips’ defender for his second score of the night.
With just over half of the second quarter gone, the CV lead stretched to a 14-0 advantage.
Unable to capitalize once again, a snap flying over Goode’s head on a key 3rd-and-5 deep inside CV territory to force a punt, the Quips were fortunate that CV was content to let the clock wind down to end the first half with a two touchdown lead.
A defensive battle looked to continue deep into the second half with the Quips facing down a 3rd-and-6 from their own 19-yard line. Goode evaded a swarming CV pass rush, slipping through the fingertips of multiple defenders, before finding junior wide receiver Jamar Jeter who was wiiiide open in the secondary.
Jeter turned upfield and waltzed into the end zone, not a defender within 15 yards of him. A missed extra point made it a 14-6 game, with just under five minutes remaining in the third quarter. The games’ momentum swung back toward the Quips after a quick CV three and out, and a roughing the kicker personal foul extended the drive to allow Goode to show off his arm once again.
Goode stepped up in the pocket on a 2nd-and-24 near midfield and launched an absolute rocket to senior wide receiver Tajier Thornton in stride over the CV defense for a 46-yard gain just before the quarter expired. Quips freshman running back Floyd Sims took a one-yard carry into the end zone. A two point conversion halted at the goal line on the ensuing attempt — shades of the 2019 Championship — kept the lead for CV, however.
Another quick drive for CV ended in a punt, giving the Quips a good spot at midfield, but a 4th-and-2 throw from Goode fell into the dirt for a turnover on downs. As if feeling the surging momentum, Alexander surged for a 49 yard run on the ensuing drive, setting up CV at the five-yard line. A pitch to junior running back Bret FitzSimmons made it a nine point lead with just a few ticks over seven minutes remaining.
With the Quips needing two scores to come back against CV, the Warriors’ defense stood tall and forced the Quips into a 4th-and-35 punt. And with a few kneels, CV clinched a hard-fought victory over the Quips.
With the win, Central Valley improves to 3-0 on the season while Aliquippa falls to 1-1 with the narrow loss.
Aliquippa will travel to Ambridge High School for an away non-conference matchup next Friday while Central Valley will once again travel to Blackhawk for an away non-conference matchup next Friday.