Valley beats Deer Lakes on late TD to end 22-game losing streak
Looking for the nearest dumpster to pitch roughly three years of losing into, Valley wasn't about to try a field goal or play for overtime in the final minutes on Friday night in New Kensington.
Facing a fourth-and-11 from Deer Lakes' 11-yard line with just over a minute to play, Valley went for it all. Chaz Cheatham hauled in the go-ahead touchdown pass from quarterback Ty Matthews, and Valley held on for a 14-7 victory to snap a 22-game losing streak and give new head coach Chad Walsh his first victory.
“The expression on our kids' faces, that's what's it's all about,” Walsh said. “The stands were packed, the community was here to watch. It was a great night for everybody. The monkey is finally off our backs.”
Valley was making its return to Class AA. Its last win before last night was Oct. 3, 2009, against Summit Academy.
Valley's defense posted four sacks and held Deer Lakes to 14 yards rushing. Valley's Demetrious Houser, meantime, ran for 68 yards on 19 carries. He had a key, 12-yard run on the winning drive.
“We said a prayer, and I gave a speech before the game,” Houser said. “We had to come together as a team if we wanted to end the streak.”
Matthews also did damage with his legs, rushing for 47 yards and a 1-yard touchdown, which tied it 7-all late in the third.
“We're a family; we wanted this win so badly,” Matthews said. “Feels great to start the season this way.”
Matthews ripped off runs of 15 and 8 yards on the final possession before zipping the game-winner to Cheatham, his stepbrother.
“That was a great play,” Walsh said. “That was a choice route between those two, and Chaz broke to the back.”
Cheatham finished with four catches for 33 yards.
Deer Lakes quarterback Josh Plocki threw a 26-yard pass to Tyler Seitz in the closing seconds of the first half for a 7-0 lead. Valley began its drive for the winning points with 7:09 to go in the fourth.
Deer Lakes players looked as if they'd just lost a playoff game as they exited the locker room.
“It's natural emotion,” Deer Lakes coach Todd Hazlett said. “They put so much effort in, and they're so physically and emotionally drained. I am very proud of the way we played, and I'm also proud of Valley.”
Deer Lakes played without one of its top linemen, Mike McGraw, who was out with a concussion.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-224-2696 or firstname.lastname@example.org.