Tri-Valley Ends Southern’s Come-back Season
SCHUYLKILL HAVEN: In a game that seemed to have a bit of everything, the Bulldogs of Tri-Valley come up big, downing the Southern Columbia Tigers 35-32 in the single A State Quarter-final.
The game started normally enough, with both teams testing each others’ strengths and weaknesses. Tri-Valley received the opening kick-off and were held to only a one-yard gain before punting to Southern at the Bulldog 42. With excellent field position, the Tigers began to march when, on 3rd & 10, quarterback Jake Townsend attempted his first pass of the night. It was a short pass completed to Billy Shoop who has it almost immediately stripped away at the Bulldog 29. The Tiger defense was able to get the ball punted back, but it pinned Southern at their own 10 yard-line. Unable to connect on a 3rd & 5 pass, Southern then punted back to Tri-Valley at the Bulldog 40. At this point in the game, it looked as if it would be a defensive struggle, with neither team putting up big numbers offensively. But, looks can be deceiving.
Four plays into their drive, Matt McGinley hit Matt Helper for the 43-yard go-ahead score. The Tigers didn’t help themselves much on their next possession, throwing an interception to Brandon Auman at his 45 yard-line. With two turn-overs killing two of the first three drives, the Tiger defense needed to come up big – and the did. After stalling a 10-play 52-yard drive inside the red-zone, at the eight, sophomore Matt Moore came around the end to block the fieldgoal attempt. Southern recovered the ball at the 26.
This time, a 12-play, 74-yard drive would end with Townsend finding Jake Morton for an eight yard touchdown reception, knotting the score at seven each. The Tiger defense forced another 3 & out series, giving SC possession at their 43. Two plays later Morton Rumbled 46 yards and was tripped-up just short of the goal-line at the three. The next attempt by Morton was stopped at the two. Next Morton dove over the pile and looked to break the plane, but, after a delayed call, the ball was spotted at the one. This time Townsend called his own number and pushed his way across the goal-line. However, after he was across, a teammate pushed him further into the end-zone and was called for assisting the runner. The poor call forced Southern to settle for a field-goal and a 3-point lead at 10 -7. They held that score until half-time.
Receiving the kick-off to open the second half, Southern increased their lead to 17-7 on an eight-play 67-yard drive, capped by a 30-yard touchdown pass from Townsend to Tim Benner. Tri-Valley would not be intimidated by the ten point deficit, and they answered right back with a five-play 68-yard drive of their own. McGinley connected with Auman for a 32-yard touchdown pass, cutting the lead to 17-14.
Southern was then held to a second 3 & out in the game while momentum built for Tri-Valley. A 49-yard toss to Tanner Troutman netted a 1st & 10 at the 12.McGinley finished it off, punching it in from the two yard marker, retaking the lead at 21-17. Early in the fourth quarter Southern had an opportunity when Kieth Day recovered a fumble, but they failed to capitalize as the Bulldog defense swarmed the ball-carriers and forced the Tigers to two more 3 & out series.
Tri-Valley continued to turn up the heat in what became a wild final quarter. Utilizing the option, they took advantage of Southern’s inability to tackle Wyatt Straub. After a 42-yard gain on an option pitch to Straub, McGinley then kept the option and scored easily from the 15. Things now looked bleak for the Tigers, down by two scores with eight minutes left in the contest. However, Benner was having a carer night and got his team great field-position at their 45 on the ensuing kick-off return. From there Morton caught a short pass and, with little room to run, pitched it back to Cody Rosenburger, netting 16 yards to the Bulldog 39. On the next play Morton broke tackles and rumbled into the end-zone, cutting Tri-Valley’s lead to 28-24.
The tenacious Bulldogs had plenty of fight left in them, as they marched off 73 yards on seven plays, capped by a 21-yard pass to a wide-open Bowman. With the score 35-24 and only 3:51 on the clock, Tri-Valley was in command. But Benner, once again, fought his way close to mid-field on the kick-off return. This set up a 35-yard gain by Morton to the Bulldog 25. Townsend then, under heavy pressure, lobbed the ball to a leaping Benner for the score. A two-point conversion run by Morton brought the Tigers to within a field-goal with 3:11 left to play.
The excitement continued when senior kicker, B J Snyder, kicked a textbook on-side kick which was recovered by Moore. The Tigers still had life, and they clawed their way down-field into field-goal range, chewing up precious time off the clock. Here an official threw a flag for holding away from the play, which placed Southern at the 32. Tri-Valley stopped Morton for a short gain at the 29, where Townsend was forced to spike the ball and bring up a 4th & 12 – and a big decision. Coach Roth decided not to put the pressure of a 46-yard, game-tying field-goal attempt of 46 yards on BJ Snyder’s shoulders. A fourth-down pass attempt fell incomplete and an elated Bulldog squad got the ball on downs to end the game. A better game of high school football is seldom seen. This time, two battle-tested teams slugged it out for 48 minutes. Tri-Valley(10-4) just wanted it a little bit more. They will take in the winner of Saturday’s Millersburg – Bishop McCort match-up in the state semi-final.
Follow EasternPAFootball.com on Twitter @EPAFootball
Share This Post: