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Keystone Secures Share of First League Crown in 30 Years with Exciting Win at ECC
ST. MARYS, Pa. (D9Sports) – Keystone football continued to make history Friday night using a dominant performance by its offense line and just enough defense to pick up a 44-41 win over Elk County Catholic at Dutch Country Stadium in St. Marys.
(Kirk Wolbert of Keystone was the Hager Paving Player of the Game)
Relisten to the game:
The victory coupled with Union/A-C Valley’s 28-7 win over Redbank Valley earned the Panthers a share of the District 9 League Small School South title with Union/A-C Valley and Redbank Valley. It is just the second league crown in school history joining the 1989 squad, which won the Little 12 Conference.
“I am so proud of these boys,” Keystone second-year head coach Ryan Smith said. “I can’t thank them enough for what they have done to this program to help change it. I am just so proud of them. We faced some adversity tonight. They have come through the entire year.”
Keystone’s offense line was so dominant in the game that the Panthers (8-1 overall, 3-1 D9 League Small School South), who have won eight games for just the third time in program history, ran 75 plays to Elk County Catholic’s 24 and held the ball on offense for 39 minutes compared to just nine minutes for ECC.
“It was just the hole line getting a good push and dominating both sides,” Kirk Wolbert, one of those lineman who was named the Hager Paving Player of the Game, said.
But despite the Panthers offensive dominance, they had to hold on to win the game after ECC (4-4, 1-3) scored twice in nine second late in the fourth quarter to make things interesting.
Up 44-28 following a 1-yard touchdown run by Isaak Jones, the senior quarterback’s fourth rushing touchdown of the game, with 3:51 to play, Keystone allowed ECC to score twice in 1:10 seconds after that score to get within three points.
First, Mason McAllister, who threw four second-half touchdowns, hit Bryan Schatz with a 6-yard touchdown pass to make it 44-34 with 2:50 to play.
The Crusaders then successfully executed an on-side kick, and on the first play after that McAllister hit Sam Kaul with a 44-yard touchdown strike to make it 44-41 with 2:41 left.
It was the fourth touchdown of at least 44 yards for ECC and the third time the Crusaders scored on their first play of a drive.
“We were just lined up incorrectly,” Keenan Heeter said. “Our secondary was on the wrong people. That was basically it.”
With two time outs left, ECC then tried another on-side kick but this one didn’t go the needed 10 yards stopping shy at the Crusaders 49-yard line.
Keystone, though, was faced with a third-and-8 after two Taylar Altman runs gained just two yards, with plenty of time still left on the clock after ECC used both of its remaining time outs.
That is when Smith and the Panthers decided they would rather win the football game with their offense rather than trying not to lose it with the defense.
A pass play was called, and Jones, after scrambling around a bit, hit Heeter with a game-sealing 31-yard strike. That was the Clarion Burger King Whopper Play of the Game.
“It was a designed play-action pass play,” Jones said. “Actually my guy (is intended receiver) got caught up somewhere, and I couldn’t find him and I was getting pushed back. I saw Keenan had his guy beat deep, so I knew if I threw it deep enough I knew that he would catch it.”
Heeter said he was just thinking that he had to catch the pass.
“This is a really big play,” Heeter said when asked what was going through his mind. I was nervous. Once I caught it I was like I need to keep a hold of it and don’t let the defender strip it from me, come down with it.”
Watch the full postgame interview with Jones, Heeter and Wolbert.
Jones ran 13 times for 54 yards and the four touchdowns with three of them being from 1-yard out and the other being a 15-yard run. He was also 4-for-8 passing for 76 yards.
Taylar Altman led the Keystone running game, which gained 348 yards on 67 carries, rushing 30 times for 153 yards and a touchdown, while Nick Weaver, who didn’t play offense after the first half because of a slight ankle injury – he did play defense – ran 15 times for 90 yards and a score.
McAllister had a huge night for ECC going 8-for-11 passing for 245 yards and the four scores while also throwing an interception (Alex Rapp had the pick).
He threw a pair of touchdowns to John Wittman, who caught three passes for 125 yards and also hit Bryan Schatz with a 6-yard score.
Kaul, who ran nine times for 147 yards and caught the one pass for 44 yards, scored on first-half runs of 75 and 65 yards.
KEYSTONE 44, ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC 41
Score by Quarters
Keystone 16 14 6 8 – 44
Elk CC 6 7 15 13 – 41
K – Nick Weaver 2 run (Alex Rapp pass from Isaak Jones), 6:07
K – Jones 1 run (Jones run), 43.4
E – Sam Kaul 75 run (Pass failed), 25.3
K – Jones 1 run (Rapp pass from Jones), 6:18
E – Kaul 65 run (Stephen Bobby kick), 5:59
K – Taylar Altman 3 run (Run failed), 1:16
E – John Wittman 50 pass from Mason McAllister (Bobby kick), 11:07
K – Jones 15 run (Run failed), 3:34
E – Wittman 23 pass from McAllister (Leo Gregory pass from McAllister), 2:08
K – Jones 1 run (Keenan Heeter pass from Jones), 3:51
E – Bryan Schatz 6 pass from McAllister (Pass failed), 2:50
E – Kaul 44 pass from McAllister (Bobby kick), 2:41
Keystone – Stat – ECC
30 First Downs 9
67-348 Rushes-Yards 13-139
76 Passing Yards 245
4-8-0 Com-Att-Int 8-11-1
75-424 Total Plays-Yards 24-384
1-5 Penalties-Yards 0-0
2-41.0 Punts-Avg 3-35.0
0-0 Fumbles-Lost 0-0
39:00 Time of Possession 9:00
RUSHING: Keystone – Taylar Altman 30-153, Nick Weaver 15-90, Isaak Jones 13-54, Jayden Blazosky 2-41, Tim Baughman 3-14, Team 4-negative 4. ECC – Sam Kaul 9-147, Raivis Bobby 1-1, John Wittman 1-negative 2, Mason McAllister 2-negative 7.
PASSING: Keystone – Isaak Jones 4-for-8, 76 yards. ECC – Mason McAllister 8-for-11, 245 yards, 4 touchdowns, 1 interception.
RECEIVING: Keystone – Jayden Blazosky 2-37, Keenan Heeter 1-31, Alex Rapp 1-8. ECC – John Wittman 3-125, Leo Gregory 2-76, Sam Kaul 1-44, Bryan Schatz 1-6, Ryan Schatz 1-negative 6.
INTERCEPTIONS: Keystone – Alex Rapp
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