Defensive Helps Redbank Valley Exact Payback to Union/A-C Valley in D9 1A Semifinals
CLARION, Pa. (D9Sports) – Redbank Valley rode its defense and special teams to a payback, 32-6, win over Union/A-C Valley in the District 9 Class 1A semifinals Friday night at Clarion University’s Memorial Stadium.
(Photo of Redbank Valley’s Ray Shreckengost (left) and Joe Mansfield who combined for three touchdowns Friday night)
The Bulldogs (9-2), the No. 2 seed, scored twice on first-half pick-6s and then used a blocked punt that gave them the ball inside the Union/A-C Valley 15-yard line and a fumble recovery inside the Falcon Knights 10-yard line in the second half to put the game away.
Relisten to the game:
“I am a defensive guy,” Redbank Valley first-year head coach Blane Gold, who served the last several seasons as an assistant coach for the Bulldogs, said. “It (defense) is something we have never really stressed here before in my time here. We have preached that since Day 1. To come out and play like this and really carry the offense for a program that is known for scoring points but giving up a lot of points, that’s November football. We have to be able to do that.”
Sam Hetrick and Joe Mansfield both had interception returns for touchdowns in the opening 13:14 of the game to help set the tone early for Redbank Valley, who led 19-0 following the Manfield pick-6 early in the second quarter.
“It shows that Redbank is all about the D now,” Ray Shreckengost, who led the offense with 113 yards on the ground and the game’s opening touchdown while being named the Hager Paving Player of the Game, said.
Hetrick started the defense rolling for Redbank Valley midway through the first quarter when he picked off a Luke Bowser pass around the Union/A-C Valley 45-yard line and went untouched into the end zone to make it 12-0.
“I really believe the best corner in the conference wears 21 (Hetrick’s number) for us,” Gold said. “He made that play the beginning with the pick-6 to get us going there.”
Not to be outdown, Mansfield, a defensive end, then scored on an interception return of his own when he batted a Bowser screen pass into the air and then caught the ball before going approximately 48 yards for a touchdown at the 10:46-mark of the second quarter.
“I saw him dropping back for the screen, so I just jumped up and knocked it up and it came back down and I picked it off,” Mansfield said about the play that ended up being the Burger King Whopper Play of the Game. “I saw Raymond (Shreckengost) here with a block, and I just ran it.”
Watch the postgame interview with Mansfield and Shreckengost.
That was the first of two touchdowns for Mansfield, who also scored on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Cam Wagner with 2:52 to play after the Bulldogs had recovered a fumble by Union/A-C Valley’s Kylar Culbertson inside the Falcon Knights 10-yard line.
“It (winning the game) really means a lot,” Mansfield said. “We lost (to Union/A-C Valley 28-7) on Senior NIght, and to come back (and win tonight) it means a lot to our seniors.”
Redbank Valley showed right out of the gate that things were going to be different than they were in the loss to the Falcon Knights Oct. 18, in New Bethlehem, scoring on the game’s opening drive on a 20-yard Shreckengost run that was set up by a 35-yard acrobatic catch down the far sideline by Ethan Hetrick.
“Our offense getting that score early got us going,” Gold said. “And the defense with the next few scores really ignited us.”
A potential turning point in the game came late in the first quarter after a 21-yard run by Eli Penny set Union/A-C Valley inside the Redbank Valley 20-yard line. But the Bulldogs defense came up with a stop on downs.
Union/A-C Valley got on the board midway through the second quarter when Colton Hoffman caught a 24-yard touchdown pass from Bowser to make it 19-6.
Kobe Bonnano had Redbank Valley’s other touchdown on a 2-yard scoring run in the third quarter after a blocked punt gave the Bulldogs the ball at the 14-yard line of Union/A-C Valley.
Redbank Valley will rematch with Coudersport, a team that beat the Bulldogs 56-0 Oct. 11 in Coudersport, in the championship game at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, at DuBois’ Mansell Stadium.
“It is a tremendous opportunity for us,” Gold said. “The be the best you have to beat the best. They are a tremendous football team, but we are excited for it. As I just told the senior, let’s just got and let the cards fall where they may.”
COUDERSPORT 35, SMETHPORT 6
BRADFORD, Pa. – A pair of touchdowns 42 seconds apart sandwiched between halftime helped top-seeded Coudersport gain separation from fifth-seeded Smethport on its way to a 35-6 win over the Hubbers at Bradford’s Parkway Field.
The Falcons, who beat Smethport 42-0 Oct. 18, found themselves tied at six with the underdogs late in the first half when Hayden Keck scored on a 1-yard run with just 36 seconds left in the half to give Coudersport a 12-6 halftime lead. That score was set up by a Daniel Frame interception and long return.
Then, on the first offensive play of the second half, Brandy Kightlinger broke free for a 62-yard run to make it 20-6 following a Jacob Pitcher two-point conversion run.
Keck then added scoring runs of 46 and 22 yards later in the half – one in the third quarter and one in the fourth quarter – to salt the game away.
That capped a strong night from the Coudersport quarterback, who also threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to John Minor to get the scoring started late in the first quarter.
Keck ran 14 times for 119 yards and the three scores while going 3 of 5 passing for 47 yards and a touchdown.
Kighlinger also went over 100 yards on the evening rushing 15 times for 111 yards helping Coudersport rush for 261 yards despite missing 1,000-yard rusher Travis Gleason, who missed the game with an injury, and third-leading rusher Thomas Wilson, who was also out with an injury.
After falling behind 6-0 at the end of the first quarter, Smethport tied the game at six on a 4-yard Braedon Johnson run 37 seconds into the second quarter.
But that was one of the few positive rushing plays for the Hubbers (6-5), who were limited to 11 yards on the ground on 19 carries.
Noah Lent did throw for 101 yards for Smethport going 11 of 23 with an interception. Bryent Johnson had three catches for 44 yards with Braedon Johnson added three grabs for 41 yards while rushing eight times for 20 yards.
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