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High School Football: Bishop McDevitt vs. Aliquippa in the PIAA Class 4A championship game

The Crusaders take on one of western Pennsylvania's most-storied programs Thursday night for the state championship.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Note: The video is from Dec. 3.

Bishop McDevitt's quest for a second state championship has reached its apex. 

The Crusaders will be back in Hershey playing for a state title for the first time since 2013 tonight, when they face one of Pennsylvania's most legendary football programs.

McDevitt will take on perennial western Pennsylvania powerhouse Aliquippa at 7 p.m. in the PIAA Class 4A championship game.

The title game will be televised on PCN.

The Crusaders' last state title came back in 1995, when they defeated Burrell 29-0 to capture the Class 2A crown in Altoona's Mansion Park. McDevitt lost the 2013 Class 3A championship game to Archbishop Wood, 22-10, in Hersheypark Stadium.

Tonight, the Crusaders face the Quips, who are chasing their fourth PIAA title. 

Aliquippa's legacy includes a record 18 WPIAL championships, a run of 14 straight WPIAL title-game appearances, 27 consecutive WPIAL playoff appearances, and three state titles. The Quips have sent 11 players to the NFL, including Hall-of-Famer Mike Ditka. (Fellow Canton resident Tony Dorsett also hails from Aliquippa, but played his high-school football at nearby Hopewell.)

This year's version of the Quips is riding an 11-game winning streak into Hershey. 

Let's take a closer look at the matchup.

Bishop McDevitt (12-1) vs. Aliquippa (12-1)

Thursday, 7 p.m. in Hersheypark Stadium

TV: PCN

ABOUT MCDEVITT: The District 3 champion Crusaders punched their ticket to the finals with a 28-21 triumph over Bishop Shanahan in the state semifinals last week at Coatesville High School. It was the 12th straight victory for McDevitt, which hasn't lost since dropping a 21-0 decision to Philly-area powerhouse La Salle in its season opener. 

Against Shanahan, the Crusaders trailed 14-13 at halftime, but rallied for a pair of third-quarter touchdowns to take the lead for good. Cyncir Bowers scored on a four-yard run to give McDevitt a 21-14 lead, and Nate Kinsey scored on a 25-yard pick-six to put the Crusaders ahead by two scores.

Shanahan kept battling behind quarterback and all-around weapon Cooper Jordan, who took the ensuing kickoff back 92 yards to the end zone to pull the Eagles back to within a touchdown. 

Jordan led another drive in to McDevitt territory in the game's closing minutes, but the Crusader defense stiffened from there, stopping Jordan's desperation scramble on fourth-and-10 from the McDevitt 27.

Jordan accounted for all three Shanahan touchdowns. He completed 12 of 23 passes for 125 yards and a score and added 44 yards and a TD on the ground to go along with his long kickoff return.

McDevitt countered with big games from Marquese Williams, Bowers, and sensational freshman QB Stone Saunders, along with a stalwart effort by its defense. 

Williams rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown, while Bowers had 51 yards and a TD on the ground. Saunders completed five of nine passes for 90 yards and hit Mario Easterly (4-52) for a 16-yard TD.

This season, Saunders has completed 133 of 206 pass attempts for 2,798 yards and 43 touchdowns. Williams has 1,657 yards and 89 yards on the ground, while Bowers 83-987, eight TDs) is closing in on the 1,000-yard plateau himself.

Easterly is the Crusaders' top receiving threat, with 53 catches, 945 yards, and 14 scores. Kamil Foster (34-846, 13 TDs) is a dangerous weapon on the flanks as well.

McDevitt averages 455 yards and 43.9 points per game on offense, while its defense has generated 29 turnovers and 23 sacks this season.

ABOUT ALIQUIPPA: The Quips are one of the state's most-successful programs, with an all-time record of 756-327 dating back to 1910. Aliquippa ranks No. 6 all-time among the state's winningest programs, according to Pennsylvania Football News

Aliquippa's storied program has produced 11 NFL players, including Ditka, Darrelle Revis, Ty Law, and Sean Gilbert. 

The Quips are a Class 1A team in terms of enrollment, but they're playing up in Class 4A. They're currently fighting a potential PIAA-mandated move to Class 5A next season, according to reports out of Pittsburgh.

Last week, the Quips rallied to defeat Jersey Shore 41-16 in its state semifinal game. Aliquippa trailed 10-0 late in the second quarter and had just 21 total yards and zero first downs on its first five possessions.

But the Quips exploded for 27 straight points over a six-minute span of game time to take the lead for good. Freshman Tiqwai Hayes got the rally started, capping a long scoring march with a 1-yard run on the final play of the first half to cut the Jersey Shore lead to 10-7 at halftime. Then QB Quentin Goode hooked up with Tajier Thornton for an 83-yard touchdown on Aliquippa's first possession of the second half to put the Quips ahead. 

Just over three minutes later, Aliquippa's Cameron Lyndsey intercepted a pass and returned it 14 yards for a touchdown. The Quips then forced a punt on Jersey Shore's next possession, and Cyair Clark returned it 94 yards for another score and a 27-10 advantage.

Clark later returned an interception 25 yards for another score to put the game away for the Quips, who rallied for their 11th straight victory. 

Aliquippa's only loss this season came against Central Valley, a 21-12 setback on Sept. 10. Central Valley is taking on District 3 champion Wyomissing in the PIAA Class 3A title game Saturday afternoon.

Goode has completed 96 of 166 passes for 1,802 yards and 16 TDs this season for Aliquippa. Hayes has 1,575 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns for the Quips, while Clark has caught 30 passes for 605 yards, and is a threat to score whenever he touches the ball -- as evidenced by his four return touchdowns in his last two games.

Jon Tracy (103-617, 13 TDs) is another player to watch on the ground for the Quips. 

With mammoth offensive tackles Tyrese Jones (6-foot-7, 365 pounds) and Naquan Crowder (6-4, 345), Aliquippa has one of the largest offensive lines in the state. 

Many Quips have to play both ways, since there are only 39 players on the roster.

The Quips' 27 straight WPIAL playoff appearances are tied with Thomas Jefferson for the all-time record. Aliquippa has an 18-14 all-time record in WPIAL title games, including this year's title-game victory over Belle-Vernon. 

The Quips' 18 WPIAL titles are also a record.

The Quips haven't had a losing season since they went 2-8 in 1972.

This is Aliquippa's eighth appearance in the PIAA title game. The Quips' last title came in 2018, when they defeated Middletown 35-0 in the Class 3A title game at Hershey. 

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