CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. — Redemption was the name of the game.
It was a day the Crusaders remembered and used as motivation for the 2022 season, after Bishop McDevitt lost the 4A PIAA state championship on Dec. 9, 2021, to Aliquippa.
Three hundred and sixty-four days later, the two teams meet once again in the 4A state finals. It was a much-wanted rematch for the Crusaders.
The wait was over.
After a short week, it was Bishop McDevitt and Aliquippa left to duel for the 4A title.
The Crusader defense came up big on a three and out for the Quipps.
On McDevitt’s first play of the game, quarterback Stone Sauders saw Tyshawn Russell on a crossing route. Russell, from one side of the field to the other, couldn’t be caught. He went 80 yards as the Crusaders struck first.
But the Quipps marched down the field on their drive. Quarterback Quentin Goode passed to Cameron Lindsey for six. They went for two, but the big guy Riley Robell said I don’t think so, and the Quipps couldn't convert.
McDevitt lead by one with 47 seconds left in the first, 7-6.
Crusaders Chase Regan and Kade Werner felt the pressure to collectively take down Goode. On the Quipps' next play, Ty Kephart read the play perfect. He intercepted the ball and went 64 yards, stopping shy of the end zone.
Head coach Jeff Weachter called a timeout. Whatever they talked about worked.
A play later, it was Sauders over the top to Russell. The extra point was blocked, so McDevitt was up 13-6.
Before the half, they found the end zone once more. This time, Sauders found Rico Scott. Row the boat, Minnesota head coach PJ Fleck in the house as the Crusaders led 20-6 at the half.
To start the half, the Quipps decent field possession near midfield. The ball came loose on a fumbled snap. Crusaders Brennan Almond was there to jump on it and get the ball back for the blue and gold.
On their next play, the star duo, Sauders connected with Russell for another touchdown—and that wasn't all for the two. On their next possession, Sauders and Russell connected one final time for their fourth touchdown of the game.
The Crusaders seemed unstoppable, but it got a little hairy in the fourth. The Quipps have two back-to-back interceptions for touchdowns.
Crusaders make the decision to stay on the ground and get the senior Minnesota to commit Marquese Williams the final touchdown of his high school career. Bishop McDevitt got redemption, 41-18, and won their first state title since 1995—a first for Coach Weachter.
“Pretty sweet! Man, I waited 25 years for this," said Jeff Weachter, Bishop McDevitt head coach. "I can't thank these guys enough. I'm so happy for them. They play well. They've done everything we asked them and it feels real good."
“Every single person on that field wanted this one early in the game," said Riley Robell, Crusader senior guard. "We knew it would be a war."
“To win a state championship, it means a lot for this program and Coach Weachter," said Marquese Williams, Crusader senior running back. "[We] really wanted it so we had to fight towards, with each other, to get that for our coach."
A lot to celebrate, but also for McDevitt football coach and athletic director Tommy Mealy, it's something very special. He is the only person who was with the team in 1995 and still in 2022, to win both state titles.
"I'm just so happy for the whole Bishop McDevitt community. What's really neat about this, an event like this bonds this group for the rest of our lives and we'll always have this night, Dec. 8, 2022. A great win over a great program with great football pedigree, in Aliquippa."