Middletown comes up short again in Title Game
The Quaker Valley Quakers won their first state championship on their first try, and they did it in convincing fashion to boot. Running back Jordan (J.T.) Taylor, quarterback Ricky Guss, and wide receiver Ethan Moore carried the offense against a good Middletown defense. In what was perhaps a true Cinderella story, the Quakers overcame a coaching change days before the season began to become the AAA state champs. Pretty much no one had picked them to even be ranked, let alone become state gold medalists. Guss said that Coach (Jerry) Veshio did a great job coming in and ‘keeping us grounded.’
Quaker Valley’s coaching staff displayed their confidence in the Quaker defense when they elected to defer after winning the coin toss. That meant putting their ‘D’ out first against a Blue Raider team averaging 43 points a game. Middletown’s first three possessions netted four yards. Nothing that the Blue Raiders’ offense threw at Veshio’s defenders would phase them and that set the tone for the game.
Quaker Valley broke through on their second drive. They traversed 56 yards in five plays. Taylor had the honor of scoring the Quakers’ first ever touchdown in a title game when he broke a couple of tackles and galloped 34 yards to pay dirt. Landon Grant’s first of five straight point afters gave Valley the 7-0 lead nine minutes into the contest.
On Middletown’s next possession, Joe Peduzzi stepped in front of a Scott Ash pass giving QV the ball at its 45, but they could not take advantage. The Blue Raiders subsequently drove to the Quaker six, but missed a scoring opportunity when Donovan Brady misfired on a field goal attempt. Middletown then forced Quaker Valley to punt. The Blue Raider faithful rose to their feet in unison when Tre’ Leach gathered in the kick at Middletown’s 45, headed toward the sideline, and behind a wall of blockers skedaddled 55 yards putting his team on the board. Brady’s PAT tied the game at 7 with 5:59 remaining in the half.
That was to be Middletown’s high water mark as Quaker Valley responded by scoring three touchdowns in 3:43. First, Guss connected with Moore for a 66 yard score. Moore out jumped the defender and came down with the ball. As he did the defender slipped and fell allowing Moore to go the rest of the way uncontested. Quaker Valley now led 14-7 at the 4:47 mark. The Quaker defense did their job, forcing a punt which traveled a mere 8 yards.
Beginning at the Middletown 34, Valley scored in four plays. With the ball at the one, Guss appeared to check when he noticed Moore had no defender opposite him. He then simply took the snap and passed the ball to Moore who waltzed into the end zone with 1:54 on the clock. The dagger came 47 seconds later when Taylor pressured Ash on a screen. As Ash released the ball, Andrew Seymour read the play and picked off the short toss returning it 40 yards for the TD and giving Quaker Valley a comfortable lead at 28-7 heading into the half.
The Quakers upped the margin to 28 points on their opening possession of the third quarter when Taylor bolted 35 yards crossing the goal line at the 9:55 mark to complete the 67 yard drive in five plays. A Brady 39 yard field goal lowered the Blue Raider deficit to 35-10 Then, only 8 ticks into the final stanza Guss punched it in from a yard out to increase the lead to 41-10.Middletown closed out the scoring late in the game when Leach scored their first offensive touchdown on a one yard run and Lamar Ventura picked up a fumbled snap by his team, and made a beautiful 70 yard run to set the final at 41-24.
— WPAFootball (@WPAFootball) December 9, 2017
The Blue Raiders finished the game with 282 total yards, but had only 147 until the final two drives. Ventura’s one run for 70 yards led the Raiders on the ground. Brady Fox had the bulk of the carries, 18, and ended the game with 59 yards. Ash completed only 4 passes out of 16 attempts and had 92 yards.
For the victorious Quakers, Taylor had 15 totes for a game high 147 yards on the ground. Guss rushed for 97 and passed for 104 yards. He completed 6 of 12 with five of those to Moore for 98 markers. Quaker Valley ended its championship season with a 14-1 record, while Middletown finished with its first loss and a matching 14-1 mark.
I don’t even know how to feel right now. This is AWESOME!
We just came here to compete. Do what coach told us to do.
We came out telling our defense we couldn’t let the running back hit any holes and that’s what we did.
Who’s going to write my movie script.
They started doing this in September. The seniors were committed to being great. I don’t even think they even knew they were going to be good enough to be State Champions.
On the one yard td from Guss to Moore: When Ricky came off the field I told him he’s a magician, I didn’t even see that play.
I’ve talked to these guys many weeks about being humble.
I don’t care. We have the best defense in the state. They are tenacious.
Our four down linemen. Those guys are nails. When they go the defense goes
We did a good job of staying focused.
It feels real life. It can’t be any more real life for me. I guess you could make this a movie, but for me it’s just real.
It’s just tough to lose like this again but we built a foundation for future teams
I thought we made a few mistakes that we normally don’t make, but I’m proud of my teammates. They all fought hard and never gave up
I was pretty nervous to start the game. At halftime coach Myers calmed be down and I was able to play better in the second half but it was just too late.
We just didn’t play our best game and that’s on me. No Question. Hats off to Quaker Valley, they played very well.
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