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By Jonathan Spina

In a matchup of the No. 2 and No. 3 teams in WPIAL Class 6A, North Allegheny’s defense shined brightest forcing six turnovers in route to a 27-3 statement victory against Pittsburgh Central Catholic.

The game started off very slow with the first four possessions of the game ending with punts. North Allegheny’s offense finally got going midway through the first quarter when Ben Maenza had a 59-yard run to put the Tigers in the red zone. He then finished the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run and after a quarter of play North Allegheny led 7-0.

The second quarter also started slow but three minutes in, Liam Alker-Connelly recovered a fumble to give North Allegheny’s offense a short field at the CC 28-yard line. As they have all season, the Tigers offense took advantage with Maenza running the ball in from 10 yards out to make the game 14-0. Central Catholic threatened late in the second quarter and had a 1st and goal on the 5-yard line with about two minutes to go in the half but the North Allegheny defense stood tall and forced Central Catholic to kick a field goal and the Tigers had the lead at the half, 14-3.

The second half started as perfectly as North Allegheny could have imagined when Central Catholic fumbled the opening kick which was recovered by Josh Dozier at the Vikings’ 20-yard line. The possession ended in a missed field goal but the North Allegheny defense was just getting started playing take away.

The next two possessions for Central Catholic ended with interceptions by Joey Porter Jr. and Corey Melzer. After the Melzer interception it looked like a North Allegheny drive had stalled on 4thdown when Coach Art Walker called a fake punt and punter/kicker Isaac West found Dante Caputo for the first down to keep the drive going. West would finish the drive with a 22-yard field goal and after three quarters North Allegheny had a 17-3 lead.

West then added a 39-yard field goal at the beginning of the fourth quarter to make the score 20-3. On the next possession, Melzer got his second interception of the night and then caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from Gunnar Fisher with 4:33 remaining in the game. North Allegheny got one more turnover when Khalil Dinkins had a sack and forced fumble which was recovered by Nathan Hoke and that capped a huge 27-3 win for the Tigers.

Maenza finished with 22 carries for 111 yards and two touchdowns.

Central Catholic (2-1, 1-1) will look to get back in the win column on Friday with a home contest against Hempfield (1-2, 0-2) at 7:30 p.m.

North Allegheny will be back in action next Friday on the road against Canon Mac (0-2, 0-2 in WPIAL 6A). Kickoff is at 7 pm and can be listened to right here on the North Allegheny Sports Network and the Trib Live High School Sports Network.