AMBRIDGE — There are less than four miles that separate Ambridge and Aliquippa high schools.
Needless to say, Friday night’s meeting between the Bridgers and Quips produced an intense game through 48 minutes on the gridiron.
In fact, Aliquippa junior Brandon Banks said an Aliquippa assistant coach compared the game to another local rivalry.
“Coach Short said it was like the Backyard Brawl between West Virginia and Pitt,” Banks, who had two touchdowns for Aliquippa, said. “We just wanted to make it a tough game and leave with the win, like we did.”
Tiqwai Hayes began his big night with a 20-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter. However, the extra point was missed and Ambridge marched down the field quickly. The Bridgers got on the board courtesy of Quaylon Darby with a one-yard rush into the end zone. Ambridge converted on the extra point and took the lead.
Hayes responded with another rushing touchdown, this time from five yards out. Aliquippa attempted the two-point conversion, but it was no good.
In the rivalry matchup, Aliquippa head coach Mike Warfield said that he was impressed with the play of Hayes.
“He played well tonight. It’s tough, though. Every time we got a big play, it got called back," Warfield said following the win. "I don’t know if that’s a coincidence or not. We need to take a look at it and get better.”
Banks caught his first touchdown in the second quarter off of a 32-yard pass from junior quarterback Quentin Goode. The tide started to turn for Ambridge in the second quarter, after Grant Uvodich picked up a fumble recovery, dropped by Demarkus Walker, and ran 55 yards into the end zone.
With four seconds left in the first half, Aliquippa responded to the Ambridge turnover touchdown, with Goode finding Hayes in the air for a seven-yard pass. Cameron Lindsey converted the 2-point attempt, taking a 26-14 lead into the half.
“It was a well-coached team, and we know what to expect with them. It was a game of two halves,” Ambridge coach Sherman McBride said. “We couldn’t stop the bleeding in the second half. That’s what good teams do. We needed to continue like we played in the first and second quarter. You saw what the score was in the first half. We needed to eliminate their big plays. We couldn’t get them three-and-out. It was one, and touchdown. Two, and then touchdown. Three and then another touchdown.”
Aliquippa opened up the third quarter with vengeance, with Goode throwing a 75-yard touchdown pass to Banks. After a fumble by Ambridge, Aliquippa recovered the ball and senior tight end Dorius Moreland scored off a 37-yard touchdown pass from Goode.
Ambridge got back on the board with a quarterback keeper from Deaven Ivory, but Aliquippa pushed for a healthy lead over the Bridgers. As Warfield alluded to though, penalties got in the way of the Quips Friday night, as it was the holding calls that ruined more scoring chances for Aliquippa, including what would have been a 55-yard rushing touchdown from Hayes, negating the scoring run.
“I mean, I’ve never seen anything like this, I’ve never been part of this,” Aliquippa coach Warfield said. “Every big play we had was called back. I’ve never seen anything like this. Never.”
Hayes did eventually respond with a 38-yard touchdown rush before his final touchdown came in the third quarter on a 91-yard sprint into the end zone. Originally, the referees threw a flag on Aliquippa’s senior tackle Naquan Crowder, but after discussion the flag was picked up. Isaiah Martinez recorded the two-point conversion, to cap off the win.
After the game, McBride said that his young Ambridge side is learning from the experience.
“Most of our kids are good players. But we’re young and we’re making young mistakes," McBride said. "If we continue to play like we did the first two quarters, we can play with anyone. We proved that. If we make the young mistakes that we continue to make, then, well, you saw the results.”
Ambridge will look to snap a four-game losing streak at home against West Allegheny in a 4A Parkways Conference matchup on Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. Meanwhile, the Quips will look to build on their perfect 5-0 record with a road game against Blackhawk in a conference tilt on Oct. 7 at 7 p.m.
This article originally appeared on Beaver County Times: Aliquippa pulls away in second half to claim Battle of the Bridge over Ambridge, 55-20