Mt. Pleasant uses big second half to oust Valley
Valley and Mt. Pleasant might share the same county, but the Westmoreland football teams showed that they are further apart on the field.
Class AA No. 4 seed Mt. Pleasant amassed 448 rushing yards — 231 by speedy fullback Tyler Mellors — and cruised past No. 13 Valley, 48-14, on Friday night in a first-round playoff game at Mt. Pleasant.
“I think we kind of refocused at halftime, and then we poured it on,” said Mellors, who scored touchdowns on runs of 1, 4, 14 and 15 yards. The Vikings scored 27 points in the second half after allowing Valley to stay close early.
“In our offense, you have to be patient,” Mellors said. “Our lineman will do their jobs. You just wait for an opening then hit it.”
Mt. Pleasant (10-0) advances to play Beaver, which cruised past Shady Side Academy. The Allegheny Conference went 0-4 in the first round and is 1-11 in the playoffs the past three years.
Much like in the opening round last season against Burrell, Mt. Pleasant was machine-like in its ground game, churning out big chunks of yardage between tackles and to the outside.
Valley coach Chad Walsh thought the difference-maker came early in the third quarter when Mt. Pleasant used an 11-play drive and took substantial time off the clock to take a 35-14 lead.
“They took the whole quarter,” Walsh said. “That was huge. Mellors is a great back. He picked us apart.”
Valley benefitted from the return of senior quarterback Ty Matthews, who missed the last 2 1⁄2 games with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder.
Matthews completed 6 of 10 passes in the first half, including four to sophomore Tyson Hill, who also intercepted two passes.
Matthews finished 9 of 19 for 113 yards and two interceptions. Hill caught six for 86 yards.
Trailing 13-0, Valley scored twice to take a 14-13 advantage. Matthews found Hill on the far sideline for a 36-yard gain to set up a 9-yard score by Devin Houser with 4:50 to go in the second quarter.
Following Hill's interception, Matthews hit a leaping D'Aundre Johnson at the Mt. Pleasant 2-yard line. Johnson went up and made a one-handed grab, and Houser scored on the next play to put Valley up by one.
But Mt. Pleasant kept it on the ground, rushing seven straight times on its next drive.
The seventh carry resulted in a 4-yard touchdown by Mellors, who also caught the 2-point pass from Ryan Gumbita for a 21-14 Mt. Pleasant lead.
Mt. Pleasant also got two touchdown runs from Ryan Ballew, who rushed for 87 yards.
Devin Houser ran for 81 yards for Valley.
“Mt. Pleasant is a good team. They executed well. But we're better than the score showed,” Walsh said. “I am proud of our kids. They kept playing until the end.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.