Rams stop Eagles again
After beating the Bald Eagle Area Bald Eagles 48-6 in the regular season finale, the Ligonier Valley Rams football team met the Eagles again in the District 6 Class AA quarterfinal. Both the week 10 contest and the first-round playoff game were played at Weller Field at Standard Bank Stadium. The Rams came through with a similarly dominating performance, topping Bald Eagle, 41-6, to up their overall season record to 10-1.
Ligonier Valley received the opening kickoff and promptly moved down the field, featuring 13 and 18-yard runs from Ryan Torrance before the senior fullback took it in from the 15 for a touchdown. Maddy Grimm kicked the extra point to make it 7-0 at the 9:11 mark of the first quarter.
When the Bald Eagles got the ball, they moved it into Rams territory before turning it over on downs. Ligonier Valley ensuing drive featured a 14-yard run from Torrance and a 39-yard run from Dereck Croyle. Scott Fennell completed a 19-yard pass to Torrance to set up a first-and-goal from the one. Two plays later, Torrance scored. Grimm's kick put the Rams ahead, 14-0, still in the first quarter.
A four-yard tackle-for-loss by Micah Tennant helped stifle the next Bald Eagle possession and the Eagles punted to end the first quarter. The following Ligonier Valley drive featured precision pass-catch combinations between Fennell and Justin Piper, Levi Gaynor, and Dereck Croyle. The possession ended with a nine-yard Torrance touchdown run and Grimm extra point to give the Rams a 21-0 lead.
A gang sack, led by Stuart Urch, was the decisive play in the ensuing 3-play Bald Eagle drive. Gaynor returned the punt seven yards to set up Ligonier Valley at its own 37. Dereck Croyle spun for 6 yards from there to give the Rams a second-and-four at the 43. Fennell then lofted a pass to Alec Bloom at the back edge of the Bald Eagle defense. Bloom outran the defenders from that point to finish a 57-yard touchdown completion. Grimm's kick made it 28-0 with 5:07 until halftime.
Bald Eagle went three-and-out again and punted. A penalty on the visitors during the punt gave Ligonier Valley the ball 34 yards from the goal line. Torrance and Billy Elliott combined to gain ten of those yards. Fennell's laser-like aim and great catches from Dan Croyle and Bloom picked up the other yards, including Bloom's six-yard touchdown catch. The point-after kick, extended to 30 yards by a holding penalty, fell just short of the goal post cross bar. Gaynor intercepted a Bald Eagle pass to end any first half last minute hopes for the visitors.
The Rams were up 34-0 going into the third quarter when Fennell stopped the first Bald Eagle possession of the second half with an interception. Torrance handled the rushing duties exclusively on the following possession, picking up 44 yards to get to the nine. A 26-yard field goal attempt was just barely wide right.
The visitors did score when they took possession, successfully completing a long hook-and-lateral pass-run combination. Jordan Jones blocked the Bald Eagle point-after kick attempt. Ligonier Valley responded to that with a drive that lasted almost six minutes. Torrance scored from three yards out and Grimm's kick set the scoreboard at 41-6 and initiated a running, mercy-rule clock. There was no further scoring by either team.
Torrance finished the game with 189 yards. The senior's 2012 season total is now 1,428 yards, breaking the all-time Ligonier Valley single-season rushing record, set by Barry Roddy in 1974. Torrance has 2,798 yards thus far in his scholastic career.
With the victory, the second-seeded Rams earned the right to face the sixth-seeded Forest Hills Rangers in another home playoff game on Saturday evening. Forest Hill beat third-seeded Central Martinsburg to earn its place in the semifinal. Should Ligonier Valley win this game, the Rams will move on the District 6 championship game against the winner of Richland and Tyrone, with the game to be played at Altoona.
Doug Kurtz is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.