Southern Columbia rolls to AA title

The Associated Press

HERSHEY — Quarterback Nick Becker rushed for two touchdowns and Billy Marzeski returned an interception 41 yards as Southern Columbia defeated Aliquippa 49-14 Saturday in the PIAA Class AA football final.

Southern Columbia's Chase Tillett (90) celebrates his team's victory over Aliquippa in the PIAA Class AA football championship, Saturday in Hershey. Southern Columbia defeated Aliquippa 49-14.

The Tigers (16-0) won their seventh overall title and first in Class AA, turning four first-half turnovers by the WPIAL champions into a 28-14 lead after 24 minutes. Becker's 88 yards paced Southern Columbia's Wing-T as the Tigers tied a championship record for points.

Aliquippa (15-1) — led by Pittsburgh recruit Kaezon Pugh, who rushed 19 times for 109 yards and a touchdown — set its own mark with a Class AA-record seven turnovers in all.

Quips quarterback Sheldon Jeter was intercepted three times, twice by Marzeski, who put Southern Columbia ahead 21-6 midway through the second quarter.

"They were that way throughout the playoffs," Southern Columbia coach Jim Roth said. "There were times where people have driven the ball on them and had some success. But they've really hung tough. They've gotten stops when we needed them to. They were opportunistic and they played hard all the time. We didn't let down."

Aliquippa, attempting to win its first Class AA title since 1993, took an early 6-0 lead on Pugh's 1-yard dive. The Tigers responded with touchdown runs from fullback Jared Torres and Becker as well as Marzeski's pick. Becker's second scoring run stretched 30 yards with 33 seconds left in the opening half.

Aliquippa threatened early in the third quarter but a Josh Yoder sack and fumble recovery by Gabriel Delbo ended the developing series at Southern Columbia's 36. Seven plays later, Torres had his second touchdown run and the Tigers led 35-14.

Hunter Thomas, one of three 1,000-yard rushers for the Tigers this season, scored a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to finish with 57 yards on 17 carries.

"Losing sucks, it's just the way it is," Aliquippa coach Mike Zmijanac said. "The team that loses the Super Bowl or game 7 of the World Series, they are miserable. There's only really one happy team every year."