A little goes a long way in Laurel Valley victory
KENWOOD--Maybe they do it with mirrors, but the Laurel Valley football team came up with win number four here Oct. 7, defeating Penns Manor 19-0. The Rams only managed 123 yards, but took advantage of three Comet turnovers.
LV needs to win one of its final three games to secure its 10th straight winning season, but the task will be difficult, as they host United Saturday (4-2), visit Purchase Line (4-2), and host Ligonier Valley (3-3).
Not many people expected to see the depleted Rams in contention for the playoffs this season but the Comets coach, Bill Packer, was not one of them.
Packer's game plan was to make the Rams beat his team through the air, but LV was able to come up with just enough plays for the victory.
PM stacked eight men in the box and blitz the Rams on every play. And they did get into the backfield and cause plenty of chaos throughout the night.
"We decided to come at them and thought we did a pretty good job," said Packer, "but when we thought we had them stopped, they would convert a third down play or hit a pass in the flat."
The Rams were very successful on third downs, as they converted six of 11. And their only two offensive scores came on third down plays.
The 0-6 Comets hurt themselves in the first half by turning the ball over three times, including their first two series of the game.
On the first series PM moved to the LV 25. But on third down, the Comets coughed it up on a hit by Eric Hageder and Scott Saxton recovered for the Rams.
After an LV punt, PM would give the ball back on their first snap.
Quarterback Troy Trimble was unable to handle the snap and Clayton Varner fell on it for the Rams at the Comets 37.
It would take the Rams eight plays to get the game's first score, with the aid of a third down roughing the quarterback penalty.
Facing a third and goal from the 9, Adam Gibson hit Shane Dickert for the score with 1:33 left in the first half. Justin Shetler tacked on the PAT for a 7-0 lead.
LV threatened again late in the half as they drove to the Comet 15. But on third down, Gibson was intercepted by Brendan Reilly.
"We don't have that potent of an offense, so the one touchdown lead at the half had me concerned," said Coach Jerry Page of the Rams.
"We got a really big play on the second half kickoff and that gave us a little room."
Matt Dubics took that kickoff, went straight up the middle, before breaking outside for a 68-yard return to the Comets 25, before being hauled down by Jarad Peles.
Saxton broke free on a third down run and scored from 19 yards out, giving the Rams a 13-0 lead.
"That kickoff return was big for them," said Packer. "The same thing happened to us last week and we worked all week on that and put new people in, but the results were the same."
"We knew Penns Manor was a better team than their 0-6 record," said Page. "They played Blairsville even for the first half and gave United a good game before they turned the ball over. They have some real fine athletes and they are hungry for a win."
Reilly's pass intended for Evan Landis went over the receiver's head into the arms of Dubics who returned it 22 yards for a score with 1:38 left in the third quarter.
Penns Manor held the ball all but three minutes in the final period. They also came up with 87 on their final two series.
On their first drive they moved from their own 33 to the LV 7. Four times in the drive the Comets faced a fourth down and three times converted. But on fourth and three from the 7, Dubics broke up Reilly's pass in the end zone.
"Defensively I thought we did a heckuva job and that's a credit to all the defensive coaches," said Page of assistants Eric Foust, Greg Page, Kevin Marabito, Ken Kuzminsky, and Rich Dipofi. "Penns Manor moved the ball at times, but they went by the old adage of bending and not breaking."
Still, the Comets looked like they were going to avoid the shutout in the game's final minutes. Behind strong running from Paul Polenik and Cody Morgan, they moved the ball 40 yards to the LV 1. But Polenik fumbled in the end zone and Sean Rummel recovered for the Rams with 0:41 left.
"It would have been nice to put a score up," said Packer. "We just keep telling the kids to keep their heads up and things will work out for them."
"They have the numbers up and they have a lot of young players on the field," said Page. "They are heading in the right direction and should be able to turn it around."
"What can you say about a Jerry Page coached team," said Packer. "I don't care what they have coming back; they are going to win six to eight games every year. That's the kind of program you would like to build."
Laurel Valley 7 0 0 7 - 19
Penns Manor 0 0 0 0 - 0
LV--Dickert nine yard pass from Gibson (Shetler kick)
LV--Saxton 19 yard run (kick failed)
LV--Dubics 22 yard interception return (pass failed)
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS: Rushing, LV- Shetler 11-17, Dubics 2-7, Miller 5-19, Gibson 3-(-14), Saxton 16-73-1, O'Shell 1-1. PM- Polenik 12-50, Morgan 13-86, Cramer 2-3, Trimble 5-(-15), Peles 4-13, Reilly 1-1, Hawk 1-12. Passing, LV- Gibson 3-7-1-21; PM- Trimble 2-4-0-9, Reilly 2-7-1-14. Receiving, LV- Shetler 1-5, Dubics 1-7, Dickert 1-9-1. PM- Landis 1-9, Polenik 2-6, Rhea 1-8.
TEAM STATISTICS: First downs, Laurel Valley 10, Penns Manor 12.