The North Allegheny Tigers claimed their second consecutive 6A WPIAL Championship over the Central Catholic Vikings thanks to a dynamic performance from quarterback Logan Kushner, who ran for 242 yards and four touchdowns on 25 carries.
Kushner’s performance echoed that of Pine-Richland wildcat quarterback Ethan Pillar, who carried the ball 56 times for nearly 300 yards in the Rams’ upset victory over the Vikings in October. That was the Vikings’ only loss of the season prior to the title game, and Kushner said the Tigers drew inspiration from Pine-Richland’s game plan on film.
“We were watching a lot. Pine was able to exploit their team, and we took some notes on that. We were able to do the same,” Kushner said. “We just knew if we kept pounding the ball we’d be able to win the game. Shoutout to the offensive line for blocking great all night.”
Khiryn Boyd Breaks Free
Kushner added two more touchdowns through the air, connecting with receiver Khiryn Boyd for 57 and 45 yard scores in the first half. The long touchdowns helped North Allegheny go blow-for-blow with the Vikings, who threatened early on, beginning the game with a bang on a 99-yard kick return touchdown from receiver Xxavier Thomas.
Kushner described Boyd’s performance in glowing terms.
“He’s obviously one of the most electric players in the WPIAL,” Kushner said. “Our connection is just great, on and off the field. He’s an amazing player for us.”
Boyd, meanwhile, brimmed with confidence after the game.
“Last year I scored on the same exact plays. We knew they can’t guard me, they can’t hang,” Boyd said. “We got a great quarterback who threw me the ball, money, bro. Easy.”
Central Catholic blew out the Tigers 50-22 when they met earlier in the season, and Boyd described how they prepared for the rematch with that sobering loss looming in the background.
“We lost by 30. That has never happened,” Boyd said. “And it was at home, so you know we had to get our revenge. We was locked in, no social media or nothing.”
North Allegheny Seals the Deal
The first half had the makings of a track meet, with the Tigers opening a 34-20 lead. Scoring slowed in the second half, but the big plays continued in droves.
Kushner continued to show his dynamic ability as a playmaker when he executed a quick kick to perfection. The surprise punt bounced off a Vikings’ defender, and North Allegheny managed to recover the loose ball. Kushner said the play’s success surprised him.
“I mean, I didn’t think the kick was that good,” Kushner said. “I didn’t even really see it hit the guy, but then I heard everyone cheering so I was like ‘okay, that works.’”
Late in the fourth quarter, Vikings’ receiver Vernon Settles absorbed a crushing hit from Tigers’ linebacker Tyree Alualu. The ball popped out on the devastating blow, but Alualu was flagged for targeting to give Central Catholic new life.
Settles didn’t mince words when describing the hit, or how it felt to get revenge moments later, scoring a touchdown to pull his team within a score with five minutes to play.
“Gosh. That was probably the hardest hit I took in my whole football career, I’m not gonna lie. Getting up from that took a lot,” Settles said. “It felt so nice. It felt so nice. They were talking before, after I got up. It felt nice getting them back with that touchdown.”