Valley holds off Summit Academy
Chaz Cheatham didn't get to hear his coaches and teammates get rowdy in the locker room when they trailed Summit Academy by a point at halftime Friday night. The Valley senior was too busy winning homecoming king.
But he also earned player of the game honors after catching two touchdowns from sophomore backup quarterback Dan Farinelli and intercepting two passes, as the Vikings downed Summit Academy, 22-16, in Class AA Allegheny Conference play in New Kensington.
It was Valley's fourth straight win — the first time that's happened for the Vikings in four years. Valley (5-2, 4-2) also hasn't won five games in a season since 2008.
“We didn't play our best early on; we gave (Summit) a heart,” Cheatham said. “But we came out in the second half and played our game. Now we have to roll with it going into next week. This is how I want to go out as a senior.”
A playoff spot could be on the line for Valley next week when it hosts Kittanning (4-3, 4-2).
“That's three times on this field we've come back and won in the second half,” Valley coach Chad Walsh said.
Farinelli, making his first career start, completed 6 of 11 passes for 118 yards and the two scores to Cheatham.
Starter Ty Matthews could miss up to three weeks — possibly more — after having his appendix removed Tuesday.
“I found out in fifth-period Spanish on Tuesday that I was going to start,” Farinelli said. “My teammates showed a lot of confidence in me.”
Valley overcame a sluggish first half to improve to 3-0 at home. Summit Academy (2-5, 1-5) recovered an onside kick to open the game and recovered a Valley fumble before scoring first.
The Knights' La'Dale Cole found space in the Valley secondary and hauled in a 39-yard touchdown pass from Chris Harp, who connected with Jolyan Walker for the two-point conversion.
Valley responded when Farinelli zipped a perfect spiral down the near sideline to Cheatham, who went the final 20 yards to complete a 52-yard scoring play to make it 8-7. It stayed that way until halftime.
But before the other homecoming court members could get back into their seats, Summit's Robert Burton took the opening kickoff of the second half 75 yards for a touchdown.
Walker's two-point run made it 16-7.
Farinelli found Cheatham again late in the third, though, leading the receiver perfectly, with Cheatham making a finger-tip grab for a 32-yard touchdown to get Valley within 16-14.
With Summit driving later in the quarter, Valley's Jordan Frame applied pressure to Harp, who lofted a pass downfield, but Cheatham snared it to set up the Vikings' go-ahead drive.
After four straight runs by Jaden Walker, Demetrius Houser bounced outside and scored on a 9-yard run. Freshman De'Andre Johnson caught the two-point pass from Farinelli to give Valley a 22-16 advantage with 9:57 to play.
Valley stopped the Knights on downs and overcame a pass-interference penalty with 36 seconds left that moved the Knights to midfield.
Khanaan Briggs' sack of Harp on fourth-and-10 sealed it with 22 seconds left.
“It's now a three-game season for us,” Walsh said. “We have to continue to play disciplined.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.