PITTSBURGH — Five-star running back Quinton Martin’s three touchdowns lifted Belle Vernon to a 24-7 win over Avonworth on Friday night in the WPIAL Class-3A championship game at Acrisure Stadium. It’s the Leopards first WPIAL title since 1995.
Martin was simply not going to let Belle Vernon lose a second consecutive WPIAL championship game, as the Leopards fell to Aliquippa last year in the final. It was something the motivated Martin and his teammates all year. They didn’t want to have that same taste left in their mouths.
“What I’m so impressed with what these kids did this year was there wasn’t any selfish attitudes or demeanor when it came to trying to get that trophy,” Belle Vernon head coach Matt Humbert said. “I truly felt like they did it for themselves, they did it for their coaches, and hell they did it for all the kids who were close (to winning a WPIAL championship). I’m just proud as hell of these kids and how they conduct business.”
Martin’s first score came on a 32-yard touchdown reception from Brendan Laux to give the Leopards a 10-7 lead with 1:15 remaining in the first half. It was a play that the Belle Vernon hasn’t run since 7-on-7 in the summer.
“We wanted to try to get the ball to Quinton in a magnitude of different ways like always,” Humbert said. “Teams prepare for him, you would be crazy not to. That was our main red zone play, and really it was a 7-on-7 play that we haven’t ran until (tonight). Think about that, coming full circle. That was our main 7-on-7 play. We hid it in our pocket the whole all year. We haven’t run that play once, we saved it for this game.”
Midway through the third quarter, Martin displayed why he’s has over 20 offers from Power 5 schools, as he had a spectacular 51-yard punt return for a touchdown to give Belle Vernon a 17-7 lead with 5:42 remaining in the third quarter. Martin looked like he was going nowhere, but he got to the outside and made an incredible cut inside to break free.
“I saw that the left sideline was clear. I got as close as I can and kept my feet in bounds, and I cut back because I saw the momentum coming towards me, and then I saw all that green,” Martin said about his game-changing 51-yard punt return for a touchdown.
Early in the fourth, Martin put the game away with a 45-yard touchdown run up the middle to increase the Leopards lead to 24-7 with 8:48 remaining.
“No, I’m pretty sure this is my first one with all three,” Martin said when asked if he ever had a rushing, receiving and punt return touchdown in a game.
Martin was glad to help capture a WPIAL title for Belle Vernon after coming up short in two of the last three years. He was especially happy for the seniors.
“This group of seniors, ever since I was a freshman they’ve always been by my side. Always helping me with everything, ever since I was younger,” Martin said. “And this means a lot to me because we put blood, sweat (and) tears into this every day. For what, three-four hours straight? So, it means a lot. We’re competitors. We want to win, and that’s what we did.”
Martin is a top 20 recruit in the country and holds offers from Power 5 school’s such as Pitt, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Texas, Notre Dame, Boston College, Wisconsin, Syracuse, Texas A&M, Kentucky, Maryland, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Virginia Tech, Rutgers and Louisville. Martin, who stands at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, is ranked as the No. 2 Athlete in the country and the No. 1 junior in Pennsylvania. Pat Narduzzi and Pitt were the first program to offer Martin a scholarship, which took place when he was a freshman.
“It’s been going pretty well,” Martin said about the recruiting process. “It’s college season, I’m in season now. So, it’s going pretty smoothly right now. I’m excited to see what happens after this season. I’ll keep the social media (updated), but I’m very blessed to be a part of the recruiting visit.”
Martin had game day visits at Penn State, West Virginia and Ohio State this season.
“There were multiple things that standout at all the schools. You know, they’re both very, very different,” Martin said.
Martin is projecting to become the highest ranked national recruit from the WPIAL since Jeannette’s Terrelle Pryor in the Class of 2008.
“Not really, no. At the end of the day, I’m just playing the game that I love,” Martin said on whether he feels any pressure from being a national recruit. “I have fun while doing it, and I just do me. Being myself. Not too much pressure. Sometimes, but not all the time.