Live blog from tonight's Class AAAA showdown between North Hills and Pine-Richland. Follow score updates and notes from other games to the right on @PGVarsityXtra account. If you have a score update, tweet @PGVarsityXtra and use #wpial
FINAL: PINE-RICHLAND 32, NORTH HILLS 15
Connor Slomka was big in the win. North Hills wanted to stop the pass, but Slomka rushed for 168 yards on 19 carries. QB Ben DiNucci was 10 of 20 for 172 yards. Mike Merhaut caught five passes for 80 yards.
For North Hills, Jake Bruder completed 8 of 22 for 116 yards. Brandon Wagner caught four passes for 74 yards.
PINE-RICHLAND 32, NORTH HILLS 15
Pine-Richland answers with scoring drive. Connor Slomka has 44-yard run and later scores on 8-yard run.
PINE-RICHLAND 26, NORTH HILLS 15
Maybe we will have a game after all. North Hills looks like different team offensively second half. No-huddle offense. Bruiser Bruder steps up in pocket, 46-yard TD pass to Brandon Wagner. Bruder hits Kindhal Taylor with two-point conversion and North Hills suddenly within 26-15.
9:28 Only 1:50 left in third and P-R still looking for its first first down of the second half.
Ben DiNucci dives into the end zone in the first half (photo by PG's Matt Freed)
PINE-RICHLAND 26, NORTH HILLS 7
I would've liked to have been a fly on the wall in the North Hills locker room at halftime. There might have been some choice words coming from the coaches.
North Hills shows something here in the second half. A little moxie. Drives for a TD on its first possession. Kindhal Taylor takes handoff on end around, keeps it and goes 24 yards for a touchdown. Jake Seiler kicks extra point.
9:09 Pine-Richland started slowly in the first half, but came on strong. Pine-Richland outgained North Hills, 321-51, in the first half. Ben DiNucci was 8 of 15 for 138 yards.
HALFTIME: PINE-RICHLAND 26, NORTH HILLS 0
PINE-RICHLAND 26, NORTH HILLS 0
Officially a blowout. Mike Merhaut runs 15 yards for TD. Kick failed. Less than a minute left in the half. Ben DiNucci has started to heat up at QB.
Game getting bogged down some with number of personal foul penalties - on both sides.
PINE-RICHLAND 20, NORTH HILLS 0
Connor Slomka scores on 5-yard TD run. Pine-Richland offense is rolling. Rams have overcome some penalties but keep on moving.
8:21 Instead of North Hills trailing only 13-7, that flipped momentum drastically.
8:19 Pine-Richland comes up with a big defensive play. North Hills driving. Pine-Richland D'Ondre Gaston steps in front of a pass for Kindhal Tyalor. INT. Returns to the 20.
8:12 North Hills having trouble moving ball. Three and out.
Pine-Richland on second play, complete pass. Fumble. North Hills' Eddie McDonough recovers. North Hills now at P-R 41.
PINE-RICHLAND 13, NORTH HILLS 0
Pine-Richland has scored two consecutive possessions. This time Rams go 64 yards in 11 plays and QB Ben DiNucci caps with an 8-yard TD run.
North Hills is in trouble.
END FIRST QUARTER: PINE-RICHLAND 6, NORTH HILLS 0
7:58 Mr. Accurate Ben DiNucci a little off tonight. But Pine-Richland running the ball with some success. DiNucci has had few scrambles, too.
PINE-RICHLAND 6, NORTH HILLS 0
Connor Slomka runs 9 yards for a touchdown to cap an 11-play, 81-yard drive. Ben DiNucci 2 of 7 so far.
7:42 North Hills turns ball over on downs at P-R 19 with 6:06 in first quarter. Incomplete passes third and fourth down.
7:40 Big penalty. Pine-Richland 15-yard facemask on third-down play. North Hills now at Pine 22.
7:35 Big play North Hills. Pine-Richland first possession Ben DiNucci underthrew a deep pass. Tipped and intercepted by Kindhal Taylor of North Hills.
7:30 THIS PLACE IS PACKED
7:24 Anxious to see big North Hills lineman Jacob Buccigrossi. Division I prospect for next year.
Fairly big Class AAA game, Knoch and Hampton tied, 7-7, after the first.
7:21 Seton-LaSalle retired tonight the jersey No. 5 of Bruce Gradkowski, backup Steelers QB. Deservedly so. Was one of the first throwing quarterbacks in the WPIAL in modern era.
I know Pine-Richland is good. But how good? I don't think the Rams have faced much competition yet. Yes, they beat North Allegheny, but this is not a great North Allegheny team.
North Hills would like to sustain some drives to keep the ball away from Pine-Richland, and a thing to watch is how well North Hills can match up with Pine-Richland receivers man to man.
And on the lighter side, is this guy wishy-washy or what? He's good no matter who wins, with Pine-Richland hat and North Hills coat. Mike is a former North Hills player and had three other brothers play at North Hills who are all here - John, Bob and Tom. The O'Rourkes had their own fearsome foursome of North Hills players. All were good.
But they have a nephew who plays for Pine-Richland - Joe Lieberman.