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Quaker Valley caps season with loss to Ellwood City

| Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, 8:58 p.m.
Sewickley Herald
Quaker Valley's Aaron Cunningham, a sophomore, tries to break free from a Burgettstown player during the Quakers' homecoming game at Chuck Knox Stadium Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012. Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Herald
Quaker Valley's Dane Jackson, a sophomore, is upended by a Burgettstown player during the Quakers' homecoming game at Chuck Knox Stadium in Leetsdale Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012. Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald

A season-ending loss to Ellwood City served as a microcosm of the Quaker Valley football team's season.

The Quakers (3-6) put up 41 points on offense thanks to their stable of sophomore skill players and the leadership of quarterback Burke Moser. But ultimately, the defense gave up too many big plays, as Jared Meyers rushed for 310 yards and five touchdowns in a 54-41 Ellwood City victory at Chuck Knox Stadium.

Beau Ewing added 145 yards and two touchdowns for the Wolverines (2-7), who piled up nearly 550 yards of total offense.

“The prevailing problem of the season was in the end, Ellwood City was a lot stronger than we were, and they proved it,” Quaker Valley coach John Tortorea said. “They started to take over the game physically, and there was nothing we could do about it.”

In a game that saw six lead changes, the Quakers held a 41-34 advantage heading into the final quarter. But Meyers ran for two touchdowns in the final quarter, and Ewing added one of his own as Ellwood City took the lead and never looked back.

Moser threw for 203 yards and two touchdowns, easily surpassing the 1,000-yard mark and finishing the year with 1,189 yards — second on Quaker Valley's all-time list. He added a 25-yard score on the ground.

“Burke had one of his best games as a quarterback,” Tortorea said of the senior, who is being recruited by Ivy League and Patriot League schools. “I'm sick that we're losing that kid, but he'll do well.”

Sophomore Aaron Cunningham rushed for two touchdowns, and sophomore Dane Jackson had a 35-yard touchdown before leaving with an injury in the second quarter.

Though the team finished with an identical victory total as a season ago, Tortorea said he saw signs of progress in his second year at the helm — particularly on offense. The Quakers averaged 21.4 points per game this season, nearly doubling their output from 2011.

However, the defense took a step back. Quaker Valley yielded more than 30 points per game this season, including three games of 40 or more. Much of the damage was done by the opponents' ground game, as the Quakers gave up more than 2,000 rushing yards on the season — well over 200 yards per game.

“It's simple running plays that are turning into 60- or 70-yard touchdown runs,” Tortorea said. “Against most teams, those are 3-to-4-yard gains. For some reason, against us they're turning into 50-yard touchdowns. We've got to find a way to solve that problem.”

Tortorea said part of the problem is Quaker Valley's team strength. He said the linemen need to hit the workout room in the offseason to get stronger and help improve those numbers next season.

“Getting in the weight room (is important) so you can make tackles instead of making arm tackles,” he said. “That's the No. 1 thing we're looking to address in the offseason. I think we understand that now.”

With the exception of Moser, the Quakers will return their top skill players next season — Cunningham, Jackson, Chris Conlan and Tre'won Marshall were all sophomores this season, and each contributed.

However, Tortorea said the current junior class — which makes up the majority of the team's offensive and defensive lines — will be just as, if not more, important in 2013.

“We have some talented linemen — they just need to make the commitment to get stronger and to put in the time so they can go play Beaver, they can go play Aliquippa and Seton-La Salle and match up physically with them,” he said.

“The junior class is the key to next season. If they do what they need to do, we'll be in the playoffs next season.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer. He can be reached at dgulasy@tribweb.com.

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