Five turnovers. No matter how good a football team is, it can’t get away with that many mistakes.

Proving that they are indeed human, La Salle gave away five possessions and fell to North Allegheny 21-0, in the PIAA Class AAAA championship Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium. The loss severed the defending state champions’ 12-game winning streak and ended their season with a still-fantastic 13-2 record.

Not surprisingly, no one from La Salle’s sideline was offering any lame excuses. {{more}}

“We just got beat,” said La Salle coach Drew Gordon. “They outplayed us.”

On the rare occasions when the Explorers could muster some offense, something uncharacteristic – a turnover, a missed block, etc. – interrupted their momentum. Still, since the Explorers had defeated North Penn by 38-35 in the state semifinals, a La Salle comeback wasn’t exactly impossible.

But North Allegheny wasn’t biting. They had too much respect for their opponent.

“When La Salle fumbled (four plays into the game), it was their first turnover in the playoffs,” said quarterback Mike Buchert, who scored all three of NA’s touchdowns. “That started things. I had a good feeling, but we know how good La Salle is, so even though we felt good about having an early lead, we understood that that could turn around in a blink.”

But there would be no blinks, and for just the second time in 15 games, and only the third time in 30 games, there would be no victory for La Salle.

– John Knebels