Williams Valley wins District 11 Class A title
Williams Valley (11-1) scored 20 unanswered fourth quarter points as the Vikings rallied to win the District XI Class A championship game 34-31 over Marian Catholic on Friday night.
As the final quarter of play began in Pine Grove, the site of tonight’s title clash, Marian Catholic found itself on the good side of a 21-14 score. The Colts had been able to take advantage of two Williams Valley punt game miscues to build a lead.
Marian Catholic was then able to tack on an additional ten points early in the fourth via a twenty-five yard field goal and a 66 yard run by quarterback Ethan Kuczynski to grow their lead to 17. The Vikings led by junior running back Dylan Rabuck then began a furious comeback, scoring 20 points in the final four and a half minutes of the game to seize a district title.
With just 4:44 left in the final quarter and the ball deep in its own territory some unfortunate luck struck the Colts, as quarterback Kuczynski mishandled the snap from center and the ball was recovered by Williams Valley. Two plays later Vikings quarterback Levi Engle hit junior receiver Allen Hand with a 27 yard pass, setting up a first and goal from the Marian one yard line. Rabuck would punch it in to cut his team’s deficit to 11.
Williams Valley’s prowling defense then took advantage of yet another golden opportunity, creating what must have seemed like déjà vu for the Marian side…
Just three plays into the next Colts drive, Rabuck scooped up yet another fumbled snap and rumbled 51 yards to the end zone to put Williams Valley to within three after a successful two-point conversion. The two scores came less than one minute apart.
After a quick Marian three and out which consumed barely more than one minute off the clock, Williams Valley had an opportunity to snatch the lead.
The Vikings could not have asked for a better opportunity as they began their final possession, taking over at the Marian 31 yard line with 2:10 on the clock, trailing by a mere field goal. The Colts had been forced to punt from their own end zone after being hit with a 15 yard personal foul penalty on the previous series. However, after two Dylan Rabuck rushes for only a modest two yard gain and a sack of Engle, Williams Valley was faced with a fourth and 11 from the Marian 32. For Williams Valley, the game and the season all came down to one crucial.
Engle took the snap, rolled to his left, and was once again able to hit Hand for a big play, this time a 23 yard strike to give the Vikings a first down and keep their district title hopes alive. Hand was tackled just nine yards from pay dirt. Following two Rabuck rushing attempts it was Engle who was able to sneak the nose of the ball over the goal line with just 41 seconds remaining to give his team the lead for good.
A last gasp drive by the Colt’s would falter near midfield as time expired.
Rabuck provided much of the Vikings offensive output on the evening, rushing for 217 yards and three touchdowns. He also added the aforementioned fumble return for a touchdown, accounting for all but one of his teams five trips to the end zone.
“This team here (Marian Catholic) has the best defense in the region statistically. Me and Dylan are very close and we talked about a statement to go over 200. One guy got 138. I think that was the most this season. Dylan is lights out. He has a drive to get better and I really believe the ceiling is as high as it goes for Dylan Rabuck,” said Williams Valley head coach Tim Savage.
Rabuck reached two personal milestones in tonight’s win, as he surpassed the 2,000 yard rushing mark and also tallied his 21st rushing touchdown of 2016.
Allen Hand added 51 receiving yards on two catches for Williams Valley.
Marian Catholic ends its season at 6-6.
The Vikings will return to the state playoffs for the second time under Savage, with its previous trip coming in 2012.
“It’s very important to me that no one comes through four years here without a district gold metal. If we had dropped this game tonight then this senior class would have left here without one. We would have had a couple silvers and that was unacceptable. The kids answered the call and rallied back and it’s just an amazing win,” he said.
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