Penns Manor takes down Ligonier Valley
The Penns Manor football team proved Friday night that it's not a one-man show.
Sure, senior quarterback Danny Ferens had another great game, rushing for two touchdowns and throwing for another in a 20-11 victory against Ligonier Valley, but Ferens had a lot of help.
“When you talk about Penns Manor, it just shouldn't be about me. It should be about our defensive line,” Ferens said. “Our defense really came to play. We've played well defensively the past few weeks, but we kept giving up big plays. We made it our mission to stop them, and we did a great job. ”
But the performance Penns Manor put on was similar to the games it played last season while marching to the District 6 Class A title and a trip to the PIAA semifinals. Penns Manor's defense limited Ligonier Valley's potent offense to 78 yards.
Both teams are 6-1 overall and 5-1 in the Heritage Conference.
“Now that we've beaten Ligonier, we felt we can beat anybody,” Ferens said. “It's great to see how far we've come since that loss to Northern Cambria to open the season. Northern Cambria is a good team, but we've worked hard each week.”
Ferens' 64-yard swing pass to running back Cody Bytner set up his 1-yard plunge in the first quarter. Bytner rushed for 77 yards, and Ferens added 79.
A Connor Maust 29-yard punt return set up Ligonier Valley's only score of the first half, a 27-yard field goal by Maddy Grimm to trim the lead to 7-3.
Ligonier Valley didn't take advantage of good field position in the first half; it started three drives in Penns Manor territory. The Rams also had a 65-yard punt return for a touchdown by Levi Gaynor called back because of a penalty.
“They beat us on the line of scrimmage,” Ligonier Valley coach Roger Beitel said. “We didn't have a good week of practice, and I have to do a better job.”
Penns Manor ran 21 plays in the third quarter but only led, 13-11. Ferens (2-yard run) scored on a time-consuming 70-yard, 14-play drive to open the second half, but Maust returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards for a score. Scott Fennell connected on a two-point conversion to Alec Bloom.
“Sure, I was nervous,” Penns Manor coach Bill Packer said. “We were dominating the line of scrimmage, and we were only up two points.”
Penns Manor wouldn't be denied: It went on a 13-play, 67-yard drive to push the lead to 20-11. While being tackled, Ferens tossed a 3-yard touchdown pass to Corey Brown on fourth down.
“We said all along that we play as a team,” Packer said. “Teams try to shut down Danny, but we have other guys who run hard.”
The defeat was costly for Ligonier Valley, which lost its top two running backs. Ryan Torrance was ejected in the fourth quarter while fighting for a fumble, and Maust injured his right leg.
Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.