Ligonier Valley bows out in semis
Ligonier Valley's hopes for the school's first PIAA District 6 championship ended Saturday night when Forest Hills came away with a 26-12 victory in a Class AA semifinal at Standard Bank Stadium.
Forest Hills quarterback Joe Donoughe threw for 240 yards and three touchdowns. The sophomore scored an insurance touchdown with 3:10 left in the game to seal the victory.
Senior flanker Jared Shope caught eight passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns.
Shope also intercepted three Rams passes.
The Rangers' defense also held Ligonier's Ryan Torrance, the school's all-time single-season rushing leader, to 44 yards on 20 carries.
Forest Hills (9-3) will face Richland next Friday or Saturday in the District 6 title game at Altoona's Mansion Park.
Ligonier, coming off its first playoff victory last week, concluded its season at 10-2.
“We knew we were playing a good football team here tonight,” said Forest Hills coach Don Bailey, in his 39th season at the helm. “We felt, for us, with their high-powered offense, we had to get out to an early lead and play good defense the rest of the game.”
Bailey will face his son, Brandon, Richland's coach, for a spot in the PIAA tournament.
Forest Hills scored touchdowns on its first two possessions.
“We didn't start very well,” Rams coach Roger Beitel said. “Opening kickoff, didn't get good field position, three-and-out, then the interception. But give all the credit to them; they made the plays. We had the opportunities, but I was extremely proud of the physicality of our football team tonight.”
Ligonier Valley answered with an interception by Alec Bloom that was returned to the Rangers' 25.
Four plays later, Dereck Croyle hauled in a 12-yard pass from Scott Fennell to put the Rams on the scoreboard.
The teams exchanged touchdowns in the third period.
Forest Hills took the second-half kickoff after deferring on the opening kickoff, and the strategy paid off.
The Rangers drove 72 yards, with Shope scoring on a 20-yard pass from Donoughe.
Ligonier Valley answered with a 2-yard run by Torrance. The two-point conversion run came up short, and Forest Hills led, 20-12.
Donoughe's final touchdown was on a 1-yard plunge.
George Guido is a freelance writer.