Tigers Bedevil Blue Devils For Non-Conference Win, 44-27
In a non-conference clash with the first-place team in the Southeastern Conference, the North Allegheny Tigers vanquished the Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils on Friday night, 44-27. The Tigers offense amassed 511 total yards and slugged it out with the finesse and up-tempo Blue Devils. Senior quarterback Luke Trueman rushed for 122 yards and passed for 242 yards and three touchdowns on his way to Wright Automotive Player of the Game honors.
The night began inauspiciously for the Tigers, however, as the opening possession ended on an interception by Mt. Lebanon’s Michael Palmer at the NA 30-yard line. The Blue Devils quickly capitalized and scored on a 4-yard touchdown pass by James Stocker to Aiden Cain for a 7-0 lead. Cain, the leading receiver in the WPIAL, hauled in five passes for 105 yards on the evening.
North Allegheny answered back on the ensuing possession and tied the game at 7-7 when Trueman tossed a scoring strike to junior receiver John Vardzel from 30 yards out with 4:04 to play in the first quarter. After Mt. Lebanon’s next drive was foiled on a sack by Dylan Wall, the Tigers scored again on a 1-yard rushing touchdown by Turner White to give NA a 14-7 lead with 1:39 remaining in the opening stanza. The touchdown was set up thanks to a 62-yard pass by Trueman to tight end Sam Humes to the Mt. Lebanon 9-yard line.
In the second quarter, Trueman fired two more touchdown passes to give NA a 27-7 lead going into halftime. Trueman hit fullback Ryan Langdon for a 12-yard touchdown pass with 6:52 in the second quarter and dealt a 20-yard scoring pass to Vardzel with just three seconds left in the half.
Mt. Lebanon opened the third quarter with a furious 63-yard drive that ended with a 10-yard rushing touchdown by John Naylor. The Blue Devils’ senior running back gained all 63 yards on the possession to help bring the score to 27-14, Tigers.
A 26-yard field goal by Dom Falo increased the North Allegheny lead to 30-14 before the most critical play in the game occurred on Mt. Lebanon’s next drive. Deep in Tigers territory, Stocker fumbled and NA defensive back Joey Porter Jr. scooped up the loose ball and returned it 75-yards for a touchdown and a 37-14 lead with 3:58 remaining in the third quarter. The play proved to be a backbreaker for the Blue Devils.
Playing an important role in the outcome of the game, the Tigers defense was able to disrupt the rhythm of the Blue Devils offense. NA pressured Stocker and sacked him three times on the night. That constant pressure also forced the Mt. Lebanon signal caller into mistakes as he threw interceptions to Luke Collella and Dante Caputo, to go along with his pivotal fumble that was returned for a touchdown by Porter.
Mt. Lebanon trimmed the NA lead to 37-21 on a 10-yard scoring run by Antonio LaSota with 1:33 left in the third period. The Tigers iced the game on a 20-yard run by Ben Maenza in the fourth quarter to make it 44-21, North Allegheny. The Blue Devils capped the scoring in the waning minutes on a 10-yard touchdown pass by Seth Morgan to Lucas DeCaro to bring the final score to 44-27.
With the win, North Allegheny improves to 4-2 on the season while Mt. Lebanon slips to 4-2 overall. The Tigers will host Penn Hills next week at 7:30 p.m.