Summit Academy finally breaks through against Valley
The only question remaining after Summit Academy handed Valley a 26-6 setback Saturday afternoon was whether the win was the biggest in school history.
Summit moved a step closer to its first WPIAL playoff appearance in its 16-year history by taking advantage of six Vikings turnovers, including a 37-yard interception return with 3 minutes, 26 seconds left in the game to cap the scoring.
A 20-point outburst in the fourth quarter moved the Knights (4-3, 4-2) into a third-place tie with Valley in the Allegheny Conference.
“It ranks as one of the biggest victories, I would say,” veteran coach Steve Sherer said. “The last couple of years, we had come close in our games against Valley, but they were the better team and pulled away late in the game. We told the kids in the second half, they would have to come out and step up and see whether we're going to take this victory, and the kids responded.”
The eighth-ranked Vikings dropped to 5-2, 4-2.
It was a tough day for Valley, starting from the third play from scrimmage when four-year starter and quarterback Ty Matthews dislocated a shoulder while playing on defense. By the time the game ended, the Vikings were down to their third-string quarterback.
“It was a rough day,” Valley coach Chad Walsh said. “We just gave them too many chances. We had our opportunities to take the game back, but we just couldn't do it.”
Summit and Valley each have two conference games left.
The Knights will play at Shady Side Academy on Friday and finish the regular season at home against Freeport on Oct. 26.
Valley, which has clinched a playoff spot, is at Kittanning on Friday before hosting Ford City in the regular-season finale on Oct. 25.
If East Allegheny (3-4 in the conference) defeats Burrell (2-4) on Friday, Summit will clinch a playoff berth. If Burrell wins, the Knights will need to defeat Freeport to reach the postseason.
Summit owns a victory over East Allegheny should the teams end the season tied for the fourth and final playoff spot.
Larry Richardson recovered a Valley fumble on the first Vikings play from scrimmage.
The Knights then drove 43 yards in nine plays, with quarterback J'Ron Hill-Phillips going the final 10 yards on a bootleg right to open the scoring.
In the second quarter, Valley stopped Summit punter Lemuel McFadden after a bad snap at the Valley 2. The Vikings were flagged for a personal foul, however, and the ball was moved back to the 17.
It took just three plays for Demetrius Houser to score from 4 yards out to make it 6-6.
Late in the third quarter after Elijah Hardy sacked Vikings quarterback D'Aundre Johnson, Hall-Phillips closed in on Johnson when the Valley sophomore appeared to have first-down yardage.
Valley was forced to punt, and Summit drove 73 yards in 12 plays, with McFadden taking a 20-yard pass from Hall-Phillips to give the Knights the lead for good.
Four plays later, Nate Cofer blocked a Valley punt that Micheson Anderson-Meade recovered at the Vikings' 4. On the following play, Richardson scored after a fake handoff by Hill-Phillips.
On the ensuing kickoff, Ramier Pernsley recovered what look to be a Summit onside kick.
“I really wasn't expecting that,” Sherer said. “I just didn't want the ball kicked deep to Houser, but I'll take it.”
With Valley down two scores, Hardy picked off an Adrian Morris pass to conclude the scoring.
Valley's only move into Knights territory in the second half came in the final two minutes of the game.
Matthews said he would know more about the extent of his injury on Monday.
The Summit win also means Freeport, three games out of fourth place with two games left, saw its streak of five straight playoff trips end.
George Guido is a freelance writer.