Pequea Valley Uses Memorable 4th Quarter Flurry To Nab 2nd Straight Brave Bowl
They call it the Brave Bowl. Although it might not be the most popular rivalry around, don’t bother telling that to Pequea Valley and Octorara. Make no mistake about it, this is a big deal in these parts. When these two schools square off representing Lancaster and Chester counties respectively, the atmosphere in and around the community of Gap, PA is electric. As Pequea Valley head coach Mike Choi puts it, “It’s as good as any rivalry I’ve seen. If you haven’t been to a Pequea Valley/Octorara game, it’s incredibly special. When you see how much both teams want it and how both fan bases support it, it sends goosebumps up and down your arms.” Needless to say, both squads of Braves would have to manage all the fanfare and emotions that come with it, as well as the elements with heat indexes flirting near triple digits as an important game for both was afoot.
The emotion of the Brave Bowl was captured on the game’s first play as Andrew Allison of Octorara hustled down on kickoff coverage and lowered the boom on the PV return man setting up PV at their own 28 which got the crowd excited. The drive didn’t last very long, however, as Joe Meyer scooped up thePequea Valley fumble and took it to the 17 setting Octorara’s Braves with fantastic field position to get started. The Octorara drive was highlighted by Sye Hall taking it down to the PV six off the jet sweep, which quarterback Trent Pawling capped off by taking it in from four yards out for the game’s initial score. After a bad snap on the extra point try, it remained a 6-0 Octorara lead with 9:12 to go in the first.
Pequea began marching on their second drive which started at their own 36 with Ryan Smith taking a sweep for seven yards to set up a third & one which quarterback Jordan Lapp converted to keep the drive alive. Unfortunately for PV, their second drive would meet the same fate the first drive did, with a turnover, as Pawling added an interception to his night as Octorara set up shop at the PV 35 following the pick.
What followed was a tug of war of sorts between the two sides. Octorara started the drive off with a 14 yard completion to Zach Heagy followed by Jeru Gray collecting a tackle for loss setting Octorara back five yards. PV would then get in the backfield to earn the sack, but a personal foul called on Pequea kept Octorara in business and moved the ball down to the 13 yard line. After a false start called on Octorara sent them back to the 18, Octorara would remain there when it came time for 4th & 18. On 4th & 18, it looked like Octorara had drawn up a play that was going to work, however we’ll never know due to PV’s Brody Mann making a fantastic defensive play on the ball to break it up and keep Octorara from doing further damage.
With the ball back and an added boost of momentum, Pequea Valley began to move it. First down saw fullback Connor Horst get a carry for 11 yards followed by a gain of 7 to start it off. From there, Lapp found Grant Gaynor for a connection out to midfield. Faced with a third & ten later in the drive, Lapp to Gaynor worked again, this time for 11 yards to move the sticks and bring an end to the first quarter.
After the second quarter began, Lapp would keep PV’s drive alive with a third & one conversion down to the Octorara 24 yard line. Connor Horst did the honors as he went up the gut for the 24 yard house call to get Pequea on the board. Following the PAT, it was a 7-6 PV lead with 10:03 to go in the half.
Both Octorara and PV’s ensuing drives would end in sacks by the opposing defenses. First it was Connor Horst making Octorara punt it away and then Scott Burridge following suit for Octorara. After Burridge’s sack, Octorara would get the ball back at their own 30 with 5:17 left in the half.
The key to this Octorara drive would be Brandon Garver getting behind the secondary and hauling in a big 34 yard reception to take it down to the PV 33. Octorara running back Scott Burridge would then find the endzone for a 33 yard TD burst to put Octorara up 12-7 with 4:30 still left the clock.
Octorara maintained the five point advantage heading into the half after both teams failed to score on their remaining drives. Octorara’s would eventually stall after five straight penalties that created a third & 40 that could not be picked up. Pequea Valley threatened to score when they got it next, but the drive ended on downs at the Octorara 21.
It was clear that Octorara used the chalkboard inside the locker room at half as Octorara drew up a flea flicker from Caden Dalton to Jamison Schempp that went for a touchdown. However an illegal procedure called against Octorara brought it all the way back. Octorara would eventually punt it away, as would Pequea Valley.
The next Octorara drive proved to be more successful as they took over at their own 40 with 6:41 left in the third quarter. Fast forward later in the drive to third and four from the Pequea 35, Trent Pawling picked up the first down off the jet sweep action. Sye Hall would later race 11 yards down to the PV 17, and then Scott Burridge got his Braves knocking on the door at the PV eight after his carry. Burridge walked in the door as he earned his second TD of the night by crossing the goal line from one-yard out to give Octorara the 18-7 lead which was the score heading into the fourth quarter.
With the game hanging delicately in the balance, PV would have to answer the dinner bell in the fourth quarter which they did in spades. On the next PV drive, Lapp found Brody Mann for the 23 yard pass and catch combo to take PV down to the Octorara 9. Lapp then capped the 64 yard drive off with a physical six-yard TD run dragging tacklers into the endzone with him. The two point conversion play was no good, but the Pequea Valley crowd awoke with energy as their team was now in striking distance at 18-13 with 10:15 left in the ballgame.
PV captured the momentum they needed to put them over the top defensively the next time Octorara had the ball. On fourth down, Octorara went with a fake punt that was promptly stopped by Ryan Smith by what appeared to be just inches inches short to give PV the ball back 55 yards away with the home crowd now in a frenzy.
Hit the fast forward button again with Pequea Valley having to negotiate a fourth & 11 from the Octorara 31 with 2:23 left. PV looked to Grant Gaynor as his enormous, juggling catch along the PV sideline extended the drive. Connor Horst successfully completed the comeback as his TD and run on the two point conversion made it a 21-18 PV lead with just under two minutes remaining.
The job was not done though as Octorara still had a chance to tie or win the game in walk off fashion. Octorara would take over at their own 28, but would arrive at their own 49 yard line after a Trent Pawling run. Octorara kept it moving after a pass to Brandon Garver took them to the PV 40 yard line with just 50 ticks left. Unfortunately for Octorara, a bad snap would spell doom for their chances as Pawling had to chase down the loose pill back at the PV 44 with now 42 seconds remaining. Octorara’s last hope was put to an end as Eddie Chilcote brought the heat on the play which put an end to Octorara’s chances with PV getting the ball back allowing the home-standing Braves to run out the clock. As they did, the PV students rushed the field in celebration after the 21-18 comeback victory.
On a micro, it was a great come from behind win for Pequea Valley. On the macro, it might even be bigger. “They told me we couldn’t win here when I took the job. We’ve now won six straight (dating back to last year). That’s a pretty big deal for us,” coach Choi added in the postgame. “Our goal this year is to make the playoffs. We’ve missed out the last two years by .01 and .08. The key here is when our guys face adversity. I love how when they face adversity, they get tougher and turn it around. That’s a mental toughness you try to build into your program that we have now that I’m very proud of.” In a game that had so many twists and turns coupled with all the underlying themes and emotions, perhaps PV’s Connor Horst put it best as he said simply, “It was an amazing game that I’ll remember the rest of my life.”
NEXT UP: Pequea Valley will look to start 4-0 as they welcome Kutztown to the friendly confines. The Cougars are likely to have an extra bounce in their step fresh off a win over Shenandoah Valley which snapped a 41 game losing streak.
Octorara will look to get back to the winning ways they enjoyed in their first game as they head to Great Valley for the final game of a 3 game roadtrip in a league contest against the Patriots.
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