Quaker Valley looks to bounce back from loss to South Allegheny
Two days after a loss to South Allegheny in his team's home opener, Quaker Valley football coach John Tortorea couldn't quite shake the defeat.
“We dominated in time of possession, plays run, yards from scrimmage,” Tortorea said. “We just couldn't finish some plays we needed to have.”
Turnovers played the key role in the Quakers' 27-7 loss to Century Conference foe South Allegheny on Friday night. Senior quarterback Burke Moser threw two interceptions — one in the end zone and another that was returned for a fourth-quarter touchdown — and the Quakers fumbled three times in the loss.
But the mistakes went deeper than that, Tortorea said, as dropped passes also cost Quaker Valley (1-1, 1-1) dearly.
Moser finished 8 of 19 for 108 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, but Tortorea said he could have thrown for more than 200 yards if it weren't for dropped passes.
“The receivers dropped at least seven balls that were significant passes, meaning passes over 30 or more yards, wide-open touchdowns,” Tortorea said.
Running back Aaron Cunningham also played a productive game for the Quakers, carrying the ball 15 times for 101 yards.
But in the end, Quaker Valley couldn't overcome its mistakes — or another early deficit.
In the team's first game, Moser helped rally the Quakers from 17 points down in the fourth quarter, accounting for all three Quakers touchdowns in a 20-17 victory. But the 27-0 hole the Quakers got themselves into Friday proved too large.
“To be honest, in eight quarters, we now have had the lead for four seconds,” Tortorea said. “And that was when we went ahead with four seconds left to beat South Park. Other than that, we haven't played with the lead in four quarters.”
Part of that, Tortorea said, is because of his team's overall youth. While Moser is a team leader as a senior, Tortorea counts mostly on a group of sophomores to make plays.
“Most of our skill players — everyone except Burke — is a sophomore,” he said. “And on defense, there's five sophomores playing there, too. So they're all trying to figure it out. They all played as freshmen, so they have some experience — it's just getting to the point right now where they're not believing at the beginning. They need to believe as soon as they get out of the gates.”
The Quakers will get another chance to do that this week when they host McGuffey (0-2, 0-2).
The Highlanders lost their opening two games, to South Fayette and Seton-La Salle, by a combined score of 84-6. But Tortorea said that count is misleading.
“All I know is they've played two of the best football teams in (Class) AA,” he said. “That's a big challenge, starting the year off with probably the best two teams in our conference.”
Tortorea said the Quakers need to “bring our big-boy pants” to deal with McGuffey's size and power-running game on offense.
Last week's contest marked the first home game since the cooperative sponsorship between Quaker Valley and Cornell took place. Tortorea said he was disappointed the Quakers didn't put on a better showing in front of a packed house at Chuck Knox Stadium, but they'll get another chance this week.
“Our fans are pretty supportive,” Tortorea said. “They saw that our kids were working hard. Hopefully, they'll be back on Friday.”
Doug Gulasy is a freelance writer.