Last Updated: Mon Nov 21, 2022 - 1:14AM
Belle Vernon Area punched its ticket to play for a WPIAL championship for the second year in a row, as the top-seeded Leopards suffocated No. 4 Freeport Area 42-0 in the Class 3A semifinals at Gateway High School.
In winning their eighth game in a row, the Leopards (9-2) secured their spot in the WPIAL Class 3A title showdown against second-seeded Avonworth next Friday at 5 p.m. at Acrisure Stadium.
For the second consecutive week, Belle Vernon Area left no doubt in a playoff victory. Quarterback Braden Laux factored into three touchdowns, while Quinton Martin and Jake Gedekoh each found the endzone twice.
Laux opened the scoring in the first quarter, courtesy of a 14-yard run. Later in the period, he connected with Martin on a 45-yard touchdown pass.
Martin extended the BVA advantage to 21-0 in the second quarter, as he posted a 27-yard touchdown run.
That score held up until the fourth quarter, when the Leopards sealed the outcome with three more rushing touchdowns. Gedekoh compiled 10 and 20-yard scores, while Laux added a 1-yard TD sandwiched in between.
In addition to his success on the ground, Laux hit 10-of-16 passes for 139 yards. Gedekoh amassed 13 carries for 123 yards, while Martin rushed 16 times for 78 yards and added six receptions for 89 yards.
In recording their third shutout of the campaign, the Leopards were led by Parker Jewell, who posted a team-high eight tackles, while Alonzo Wade snagged a pair of interceptions. Luke Bryer, Steve Macheska, and Dom Sasko each notched six tackles, while Martin and Adam LaCarte posted interceptions.
Belle Vernon Area, which lost to Aliquippa last year in the WPIAL Class 4A Championship, is in pursuit of its second district crown, as the Leopards won gold in 1995. The Antelopes (11-1), who blasted Shady Side Academy 35-0 in the semifinals, are seeking their third WPIAL title, with the most recent coming in 2019.