Mt. Pleasant fumbles away game to No. 12-seeded Beaver
All season long, Mt. Pleasant prided itself on taking care of the football. But in the biggest game of their season, the fourth-seeded Vikings committed five turnovers and it cost them their season as 12th-seeded Beaver took advantage of the miscues in a 21-7 victory in a WPIAL Class AA quarterfinal at Plum on Friday.
“That's more turnovers than we usually have in a half a season,” Mt. Pleasant coach Bo Ruffner said. “We want to run the football, play good defense and win the turnover battle. We didn't win that tonight.”
Of course, Beaver (8-3) had a lot to do with those Mt. Pleasant turnovers. The Bobcats were opportunistic on defense with four fumble recoveries and an interception.
“We played good defense and we created the turnovers,” Beaver coach Jeff Beltz said. “Our kids never stopped.”
After a scoreless first quarter, the Vikings (10-1) got rolling in the second frame with an 11-play drive that ended in a Tyler Mellors 2-yard touchdown run to put Mt. Pleasant in front, 7-0.
Mellors, Mt. Pleasant's all-time and single-season rushing leader, finished with 29 carries for 146 yards. He ended his high school career with 4,179 yards. He finished this season with 27 rushing touchdowns, also a school record.
However, Mellors also lost two fumbles.
“All of our big guns put the ball on the ground and we don't usually do that,” Ruffner said.
After the Vikings had grabbed a second-quarter lead, Beaver responded with a four-play drive that finished with a 58-yard touchdown pass from Alex Rowse to Dylan Goff.
Rowse completed 13-of-21 passes for 220 yards and three touchdowns. Goff caught five passes for 182 yards and two scores.
With the score tied at 7-7, Beaver took the lead late in the first half. Julian Vandusen intercepted a Ryan Gumbita pass, which helped create a nine-play drive that ended with Rowse's 10-yard touchdown strike to Darius Wise.
Down 14-7, the Vikings appeared poised to tie it midway through the fourth. Mt. Pleasant drove to the Beaver 5-yard line. However, another Mt. Pleasant fumble was recovered by Jordan Yates. Two plays later, Rowse hit Goff on a 90-yard touchdown pass.
“It's football and sometimes things go your way,” Beltz said. “That (play) was huge. It's not the first time we've done that. We wanted to stay aggressive.”
It was the play of the game.
“The turning point is turning the ball over when you're going in to score,” Ruffner said. “You can't do that if you're going to win big games.”
It was a bitter ending for the Vikings, who reached the 10-win total and advanced to the quarterfinals for the second consecutive season.
“We had a great senior class and they had a great run here at Mt. Pleasant,” Ruffner said.
For Beaver, the journey continues. The Bobcats will face top-seeded Aliquippa (11-0) in the semifinals.
“There are no slouches left,” Beltz said. “It should be a good football game.”