HERSHEY, Pa. (WHTM) — Despite a fast start and two touchdown lead in the first three minutes of the game, Bishop McDevitt ultimately fell to Aliquippa 34-27 in the PIAA 4A State Championship on Thursday.

The Crusaders did make it a one touchdown game with 3:01 to play on an 18 yard connection from QB Stone Saunders to Marquese Williams.

Saunders set the McDevitt single-season touchdown record in the game with his 46 touchdown passes as a freshman.

This was the Crusader’s fourth time under head coach Jeff Weachter to make it to the State Championship Game. McDevitt has yet to win a state championship since it’s lone title in 1995.

How it happened

On the very first drive of the game, freshman QB Stone Saunders found Mario Easterly for a 59-yard touchdown connection to take the 7-0 lead.

Then seconds later, the Quips didn’t field the kickoff and it was recovered by McDevitt’s Jaire Rawlison. Marquese Williams caps off the drive with a 16-yard touchdown run, his 26th of the season. This all happened within the first 2:17 of the first quarter.

Aliquippa quickly woke up thanks to a stellar freshman of their own. Penn State offered Tiqwai Hayes broke loose on a 42 yard touchdown run to (his 21st rushing touchdown on the season) to pull within six with less than six minutes to play in the first quarter.

As the McDevitt offense continued to struggle, Saunders under incredible pressure made a rare mistake. For just the fifth time this season, Saunders was picked off by the Quips Cameron Lindsey who ran it all the way back for a touchdown and an Aliquippa lead.

As the game moved into the second quarter, the frantic scoring continues. Saunders broke the school single-season touchdown record on a 56 yard strike to Kamil Foster to retake the lead 20-14 with 10:59 to play in the quarter.

The Quips answered with a short 2-yard touchdown run, but missed the PAT. So the game would head to the locker room tied at 20-20.

Pace of play grinds to a halt in the third quarter with no scoring coming out of the locker room.

In the fourth, however, Hayes continues his dominant performance punching it in from one yard out with 11:57 to go in the game to take the 27-20 lead.

The Quips would push it to a two touchdown lead, before a miraculous play from Saunders. Getting hit from behind, the freshman quarterback got the pass off to Williams, who catches the ball on the sidelines and tiptoes down the line for an 18 yard touchdown. So the Quips lead was cut to seven with just 3:02 left to play.

The Quips offense was able to move the chains and run out the clock to win the fourth state title in school history.

The Quips will be moved up to play in Class 5A next season.

According to the PCN Broadcast, Bishop McDevitt athletic director Tommy Mealy confirmed they are in talks with Aliquippa to open the 2022 season against each other in a WPIAL/Mid Penn crossover game at Chambersburg High School.