Beaver survives scare, fends off Valley
Well after victorious No. 5 Beaver left the field, No. 12 Valley coach Chad Walsh got his team together in a subdued huddle. After seeing their Class AA playoff run end in a hard-fought 28-14 loss at Ray Tarquinio Field in Beaver, the Vikings were having trouble coming to grips with the fact that their season was over.
“We wanted to keep going,” an emotional Walsh said. “It's been a long time since these kids won. They're starting to get the taste of it. We saw some tears and things like that, but that's good. That's what we want to see. If we saw them joking and laughing, we wouldn't have done our jobs.”
The night belonged to the Bobcats (9-1), who bounced back from its only loss of the season against Aliquippa last week. With the victory, Beaver moves on to face No. 4 Jeannette — which beat South Allegheny, 40-7, on Friday — at a site to be determined.
“We had a number of starters out. We just asked guys to give us their best effort,” Beaver coach Jeff Beltz. “We're playing at home, and some guys stepped up for us tonight.”
The game was typified by penalties, high tension and, most of all, turnovers. The sides combined for mroe than eight turnovers, each team contributing four giveaways. There were interceptions, fumble recoveries and a snap that went awry; if not for a penalty, there could've been an onside kick recovery as well.
And it was a pair of Beaver turnovers that gave Valley (6-4) an opportunity to steal the game early in the second half.
After a scoreless opening quarter, the Bobcats had a 13-0 lead by halftime. Held to a three-and-out on its opening possession of the second half, Beaver was forced to punt. But when the snap sailed high over senior punter Brandon Rogowski's head, it was Valley junior running back Devin Houser who recovered the ball and ran it 15 yards into the end zone.
On the ensuing kickoff, Beaver senior running back Malik Harden coughed up the ball into the hands of Vikings senior wide receiver Kevin Frame, who took the ball back about 25 yards to give Valley a 14-13 lead early in the second half.
But while the Vikings kept the game close, it was Bobcats senior running back Anthony Keriotis who stamped his name all over it and helped push the hosts over the top. Starting in place of senior workhorse Darian Bradley, who is sidelined with a knee injury, Keriotis rushed 22 times for 122 yards and two scores.
“Anthony's kind of been a guy in the shadows all year,” Beltz said. “We had some other guys with injuries that weren't able to give us their carries that they normally do. Anthony needed to be that guy. He's a senior, and I think he relishes those opportunities.”
After regaining the lead on a halfback option pass from junior running back Jordan Yates to junior wide receiver Alex Rowse in the third quarter, Keriotis gave Beaver some vital breathing room with his second touchdown run of the game in the fourth quarter.
And while the Vikings were given a few more chances, their offense was unable to overcome a staunch Beaver defense that didn't surrender a point.
Stephen Cantanese is a freelance writer.