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After come-from-behind victory, Quaker Valley looks for 1st 4-0 start in 30 years

| Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Quaker Valley's Aaron Cunningham (1) celebrates his fourth quarter touchdown with teammate Marcus Coury (74) during a game against South Allegheny Friday, Sept. 6, 2013, at Glassport Memorial Stadium.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Quaker Valley's Dane Jackson looks to make a pass against South Allegheny in the third quarter Friday, Sept. 6, 2013, at Glassport Memorial Stadium.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Quaker Valley's Chris Conlan is knocked out of bounds by South Allegheny's DaVonte Johnson during a game Friday, Sept. 6, 2013, at Glassport Memorial Stadium.

McGuffey's Patrick Frey had what may have been the best individual performance of any opponent Quaker Valley coach John Tortorea has ever seen last week.

“He is an excellent player,” Tortorea said. “He decided to take it upon himself to get them the win. Fortunately for us, we have some special players, too.”

Frey scored four touchdowns — including three in the fourth quarter — to give the Highlanders a 31-28 lead. But the Quakers had a three-play, game-winning drive that was topped off by Dane Jackson 2-yard touchdown pass to Chris Conlan in the waning seconds to complete the 35-31 come-from behind win.

“They are two special players,” Tortorea said. “Their work ethic is unbelievable. We are lucky to have them.”

Quaker Valley seemed to be rolling to another win as it built a 21-9 lead over the first three quarters. Jackson threw two touchdowns — 25 yards to Conlan and 22 yards to Gennaro Trovato — and ran another in on a 73-yard scramble during the opening 36 minutes.

But the fourth quarter was high-octane football as the teams combined for 36 points. Tortorea said the defense will need to improve and not allow such offensive outbursts from its opponents.

But his team's composure in the fourth quarter gained his praise. While Quakers squads in the past may have crumbled going down three points with 1:11 left on the clock, the leaders of the 2013 team pulled the group together for the final drive.

“Without a doubt, we couldn't have done that in years past,” Tortorea said. “I think we became so confident in what we can do on the field that we lost our focus. We have overconfidence at times. If we would have lost, it would have been a smack in the face to us. But we have leadership that made sure that didn't happen.”

Jackson completed 12 of 15 passes for 151 yards and three touchdowns. He added 11 runs for 129 yards and a score. Conlan had nine catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns.

Trovato recorded 90 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.

The win improved the Quakers to 3-0 overall and in Century Conference play. The win keeps the team paced with the upper half of the conference, including South Fayette (3-0), Seton-La Salle (3-0) and Steel Valley (2-1).

The Quakers will return home Friday for a game with Century Conference foe Keystone Oaks.

The Golden Eagles have had a disastrous start to the 2013 season, compiling three losses while being outscored 148-13.

But Quaker Valley won't be overlooking its opponent. Keystone Oaks has played the Quakers tough the last two seasons with the Golden Eagles using a late touchdown in 2011 to pick up a 27-20. Quaker Valley escaped with a 21-14 overtime win last season.

“Keystone Oaks has a scrappy bunch of kids,” Tortorea said. “They play us tight every year. We had them on the ropes last season but couldn't knock them out. This won't be an easy game. We have to go out and earn it.”

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. If Quaker Valley earns the win, it will be the first 4-0 start for the team since 1983.

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at nsmith@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.

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