Late field goal ends BVA's bid for upset
Almost no one gave Belle Vernon Area a shot to win at Central Valley in the first round of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.
Unfortunately for the Leps, the contest was seven seconds too long.
Central Valley senior kicker Elliot Taylor hooked a 22-yard field goal attempt that barely got between the goal posts, but it stayed true long enough to give the third-seeded Warriors the win and a quarterfinal berth next weekend.
“I don't think a lot of people gave us a chance tonight, but we showed up and played tough and almost pulled it out,” said BVA head coach Aaron Krepps. “Give Central Valley credit because they are a good team. But we were right there.”
Warriors head coach Mark Lyons was pleased with the effort of his team that played without star Robert Foster, a nationally ranked receiver.
“We have had some guys who have faced some adversity this week and we had guys who had to step up and make plays,” he said. “We had a lot of sophomores on the field and I am so proud of our seniors.
“We have some hardcore senior guys who deserve this win.”
BVA (4-6) got off to a fast start as freshman Derek Verkleeren returned the opening kick 55 yards to the Central Valley 35.
Eleven plays later, sophomore Anthony Levis scored from two yards out on a fourth-and-one to give the Leps a 6-0 lead with 6:00 left in the first quarter.
On the extra point, the ball was fumbled and a pass fell incomplete.
Central Valley (8-2) didn't waste any time as it took 2:37 to grab a 7-6 lead.
After holding JaQuan Pennington to a two-yard gain on a first down carry, BVA gave up a 31-yard pass from John George to Pennington.
At the end of the play, BVA was hit with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and the ball was moved to the BVA 28.
Four plays later, Pennington went in from two yards out and Taylor's extra point gave the Warriors a 7-6 lead.
The score held until 2:05 before half when George scored from one yard out.
The extra point gave the hosts a 14-6 lead.
Central Valley kicked off to BVA, and used timeouts to save the clock and get the ball back.
However, the move backfired.
The Warriors took over at their own 22 and after a first down, they had the ball at their 35.
George threw the ball for Pennington near midfield but BVA's Adam Ferita picked the ball off at the 47 and returned it 44 yards to the three.
On the next play, Levis went in from three yards out and Tyler McCullough's extra point trimmed the Central Valley lead to 14-13 going into halftime.
Krepps said his confidence in his defense was a main reason that he did not go for a two-point conversion that would have tied the score.
“It was early and I didn't think it would be the last time we would get in the end zone,” he said. “We were playing solid defense, especially in the second half. But I felt we were moving the ball at that point.”
During the first half, Central Valley had 166 yards of total offense on 27 plays, while BVA gained 77 yards on 24 plays.
Central Valley received the ball to start the second half, but traded punts with BVA.
On the BVA punt, Pennington tried to field a low, line drive kick from Verkleeren, but he fumbled it and BVA recovered.
Four plays player, Tyler McCullough drilled a career-long 32-yard field goal with 4:23 left in the third quarter to give BVA a 16-14 lead.
The lead held into the fourth quarter and the hosts looked poised to take the lead with 6:37 left, but Taylor was wide right on a 32-yard field goal attempt.
Central Valley held BVA to a three-and-out and took over at its own 40 with 4:09 left.
“On that last drive we wanted to run more clock, but we blew two blocking assignments,” Krepps said. “With how our defense was playing, I was confident in our guys.”
The Warriors used up 4:02 of the remaining clock when Taylor made the game-winning kick.
Krepps reflected on his senior class, which was led by Dorian Johnson.
The 6-6, 290-pound nationally ranked recruit finished with 12 tackles and three sacks from his defensive line position.
“It is heart wrenching for this group of seniors to go out in a game like this,” Krepps said. “They have been a great class and have meant so much to us.
“They played their butts off and we are going to miss their leadership.”
Central Valley will play Hopewell in the quarterfinals.
NOTES: Levis led all rushers with 70 yards on 23 carries … Aaron McCullough and Austin Fields added sacks for BVA … Pennington had 52 yards rushing on 19 carries … Central Valley finished with 241 yards of total offense ,while BVA finished with 95 yards of total offense.