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Ligonier Valley honors late teammate with victory over Homer-Center

Paul Schofield
| Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, 11:12 p.m.
Penn-Trafford's Cam Laffoon (9) dives for a touchdown during their game against Franklin Regional in Murraysville on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Penn-Trafford's Cam Laffoon (9) dives for a touchdown during their game against Franklin Regional in Murraysville on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017.
Ligonier Valley's Jackson Daugherty (12) is dragged down by the Homer-Center defense after a long gain in the third quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Ligonier Valley's Jackson Daugherty (12) is dragged down by the Homer-Center defense after a long gain in the third quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Ligonier Valley celebrate their 35-6 win against Homer-Center on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Ligonier Valley celebrate their 35-6 win against Homer-Center on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Homer-Center's Mike McCracken (35) runs the ball against Ligonier Valley in the fourth quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Homer-Center's Mike McCracken (35) runs the ball against Ligonier Valley in the fourth quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Ligonier Valley's Jackson Daugherty (12) is tackled by Homer-Center's Trevor Mlakar (55) in the second quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Ligonier Valley's Jackson Daugherty (12) is tackled by Homer-Center's Trevor Mlakar (55) in the second quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Ligonier Valley's Joey Dubics (23) runs the ball against Homer-Center in the fourth quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Ligonier Valley's Joey Dubics (23) runs the ball against Homer-Center in the fourth quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Homer-Center's Jesse Lee (34) reacts to a fumble by Homer-Center's Ben Schmidt (3) in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Homer-Center's Jesse Lee (34) reacts to a fumble by Homer-Center's Ben Schmidt (3) in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Ligonier Valley's Aaron Sheeder (42) is brought down at the end of a run against Homer-Center in the second quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Ligonier Valley's Aaron Sheeder (42) is brought down at the end of a run against Homer-Center in the second quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Ligonier Valley's Zach Beitel (3) brings down Homer-Center's Ben Schmidt (3) in the second quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Ligonier Valley's Zach Beitel (3) brings down Homer-Center's Ben Schmidt (3) in the second quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Ligonier Valley's Michael McVicker (60) helps remove a chunk of grass from the helmet of Ligonier Valley's Jackson Daugherty (12) in the fourth quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Ligonier Valley's Michael McVicker (60) helps remove a chunk of grass from the helmet of Ligonier Valley's Jackson Daugherty (12) in the fourth quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Homer-Center's Jesse Lee (34) runs the ball against Ligonier Valley in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Homer-Center's Jesse Lee (34) runs the ball against Ligonier Valley in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Ligonier Valley takes the field before kickoff against Homer-Center on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Ligonier Valley takes the field before kickoff against Homer-Center on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Ligonier Valley's Jackson Daugherty (12) runs the ball against Homer-Center in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Ligonier Valley's Jackson Daugherty (12) runs the ball against Homer-Center in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Ligonier Valley's Jackson Daugherty (12) runs the ball against Homer-Center in the fourth quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Ligonier Valley's Jackson Daugherty (12) runs the ball against Homer-Center in the fourth quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Ligonier Valley's Jackson Daugherty (12) falls into the end zone after a hit from Homer-Center's Jesse Lee (34) in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Ligonier Valley's Jackson Daugherty (12) falls into the end zone after a hit from Homer-Center's Jesse Lee (34) in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Ligonier Valley's Jackson Daugherty (12) makes a catch for a touchdown against Homer-Center in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Ligonier Valley's Jackson Daugherty (12) makes a catch for a touchdown against Homer-Center in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Homer-Center's Mike McCracken (35) runs the ball against Ligonier Valley in the fourth quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Homer-Center's Mike McCracken (35) runs the ball against Ligonier Valley in the fourth quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Ligonier Valley's Aaron Tutino (6) runs the ball against Homer-Center in the second quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Ligonier Valley's Aaron Tutino (6) runs the ball against Homer-Center in the second quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Ligonier Valley's Michael McVicker (60) recovers a fumbled snap against Homer-Center in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Ligonier Valley's Michael McVicker (60) recovers a fumbled snap against Homer-Center in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Ligonier Valley's Jackson Daugherty (12) dodges an arm tackle from Homer-Center's Trevor Mlakar (55) in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Ligonier Valley's Jackson Daugherty (12) dodges an arm tackle from Homer-Center's Trevor Mlakar (55) in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Homer-Center's Cobe Daugherty (24) reaches for a touchdown catch against Ligonier Valley in the second quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Homer-Center's Cobe Daugherty (24) reaches for a touchdown catch against Ligonier Valley in the second quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Ligonier Valley's Jacob Neiderhiser (78) sacks Homer-Center's Ben Schmidt (3) in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Ligonier Valley's Jacob Neiderhiser (78) sacks Homer-Center's Ben Schmidt (3) in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Ligonier Valley's Jackson Daugherty (12) calls for a penalty after a dropped pass against Homer-Center in the third quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Ligonier Valley's Jackson Daugherty (12) calls for a penalty after a dropped pass against Homer-Center in the third quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Ligonier Valley's John Caldwell (10) looks for an open receiver against Homer-Center in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Ligonier Valley's John Caldwell (10) looks for an open receiver against Homer-Center in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Ligonier Valley Head Coach Roger Beitel calls for a penalty against Homer-Center in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Ligonier Valley Head Coach Roger Beitel calls for a penalty against Homer-Center in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Ligonier Valley's Zach Beitel (3) throws the ball down field against Ligonier Valley in the fourth quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Ligonier Valley's Zach Beitel (3) throws the ball down field against Ligonier Valley in the fourth quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Homer-Center's Ben Schmidt (3) loses track of the ball on a snap against Ligonier Valley in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Homer-Center's Ben Schmidt (3) loses track of the ball on a snap against Ligonier Valley in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Ligonier Valley's Jacob Neiderhiser (78) apologizes to a referee after colliding with them during a celebration after a sack against Homer-Center in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Ligonier Valley's Jacob Neiderhiser (78) apologizes to a referee after colliding with them during a celebration after a sack against Homer-Center in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Ligonier Valley's Aaron Tutino (6) cuts up the sideline against Homer-Center in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Ligonier Valley's Aaron Tutino (6) cuts up the sideline against Homer-Center in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Ligonier Valley's Aaron Sheeder (42) tries to break the tackle of Homer-Center's Tim Alcon (10) in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Ligonier Valley's Aaron Sheeder (42) tries to break the tackle of Homer-Center's Tim Alcon (10) in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Ligonier Valley's Jackson Daugherty (12) runs the ball against Homer-Center in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Ligonier Valley's Jackson Daugherty (12) runs the ball against Homer-Center in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Ligonier Valley's Jackson Daugherty (12) takes a hard hit from Homer-Center's Jesse Lee (34) as he crosses the goal line for a touchdown in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Ligonier Valley's Jackson Daugherty (12) takes a hard hit from Homer-Center's Jesse Lee (34) as he crosses the goal line for a touchdown in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Ligonier Valley huddle around the jersey of Nicholas Neiderhiser before kickoff against Homer-Center Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Ligonier Valley huddle around the jersey of Nicholas Neiderhiser before kickoff against Homer-Center Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Ligonier Valley's Aaron Sheeder (42) runs the ball against Homer-Center in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Ligonier Valley's Aaron Sheeder (42) runs the ball against Homer-Center in the first quarter on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Ligonier Valley's Peter Stoll (83) and Ligonier Valley's Hayden Light (69) hold the jersey of Nicholas Neiderhiser as captains take the field for the coin toss  before kickoff n Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Ligonier Valley's Peter Stoll (83) and Ligonier Valley's Hayden Light (69) hold the jersey of Nicholas Neiderhiser as captains take the field for the coin toss before kickoff n Friday Oct. 06, 2017 at Homer-Central.

Sometimes football takes a backseat to life.

It would have been easy for Ligonier Valley to have a letdown Friday after enduring a tough week with the death of a classmate and former teammate Nick Neiderhiser on Tuesday morning.

But instead of letting down, the undefeated Rams (7-0, 7-0) honored their teammate by defeating previously undefeated Homer-Center, 35-6, in a PIAA District 6 Heritage Conference first-place showdown.

The Rams carried Neiderhiser's No. 73 jersey from the locker room and onto the field for the coin flip. Some players held the jersey up to Ligonier Valley fans.

After Homer-Center held a moment of silence for Neiderhiser, who died in a car accident, and the people involved in the Las Vegas shooting, the Rams defense set the tone.

Three Homer-Center fumbles in the first quarter helped Ligonier Valley built a 21-0 lead, and the fifth-ranked Class 2A team in the state cruised to a physical win.

“It's the most physical game we've been involved in all season,” Ligonier Valley coach Roger Beitel said. “I'm super proud of the players. We had a really tough week in the valley, and one of the things we wanted to do was play for Nick.

“Believe it or not, Nick's dad, Ben, actually stopped down to the field house before we left and talked to me and said how much he appreciated the effort of us supporting them, and he said, ‘I want them to win,' and I relayed it to the team and we played with heavy hearts and a lot of emotion and this one's for him.”

Ligonier Valley took advantage of three fumbles by freshman quarterback Ben Schmidt. Blake Bridge's recovery set up Jackson Daugherty's 13-yard touchdown run. Mike McVicker's recovery was followed by 21-yard touchdown pass from John Caldwell to Daugherty, and Cole Peters' recovery was followed by a 26-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Tutino.

Daugherty caught five passes for 100 yards, and he tacked on another 96 rushing yards.

Caldwell, who shared duties with Daugherty, completed 11 of 16 passes for 151 yards and three scores. He also hit Aaron Sheeder with a 15-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.

“All week, we had one goal. We wanted to win for Nick,” Caldwell said. “The whole team rallied together, and we went out and did our thing.”

Homer-Center coach Greg Page was hoping to a better performance than last year, when the Rams won 50-0. But three first-quarter turnovers were tough to overcome.

“We usually don't turn the ball over, and Ligonier took advantage and it put us behind the 8-ball,” Page said. “We bounced back, and the kids played hard, moved the ball well at times and played some good defense. But they are outstanding, and they make it hard for you.”

Homer-Center entered the contest ranked No. 4 in the state in Class A. Ligonier Valley outgained Homer-Center, 332-190.

The Wildcats ended the Rams' string of shutouts when Schmidt tossed a 22-yard touchdown to sophomore Cobe Daugherty to cut the lead to 21-6.

But Ligonier Valley put together a 68-yard scoring drive before halftime with Tutino racing 17 yards for a 28-6 lead.

“We didn't come out and perform like we wanted to, but we still got the win and that's all that matters,” Tutino said. “Homer-Center is a good running team, but our defense stepped up and prepared and performed.”

Tutino added a fourth-quarter interception to stop Homer-Center's final drive of the game.

“At times, Homer-Center gave our defense fits,” Beitel said. “That was expected. They are a state ranked football team, and we knew it was going to be a tough test coming here. This was a physical football game, two weeks in a row, and now we have to get healthy for the end run.”

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at pschofield@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

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