RIMERSBURG - It’s quite an accomplishment when a high school football team can pack an entire game’s worth of offensive and defensive stats into one half of football but Union/A-C Valley did just such a thing Friday night.
The Falcon Knights had a 100-yard rusher, a two touchdown performance from their quarterback and three return touchdowns (two interceptions, one punt return) in 24 minutes of play as Union/A-C Valley overwhelmed visiting Elk County Catholic 41-0 in a shortened game.
The Falcon Knights’ Caden Rainey also scored three touchdowns three different ways in the win.
This is the third-straight shutout for the Falcon Knights as they have outscored the competition 160-0 in those three games.
“I’m proud of our kids,” Union/A-C Valley head coach Brad Dittman said. “Even though we beat Otto-Eldred 42-0 last week, we didn’t do a lot of things well offensively and there were some things up front we needed to clean up. We challenged our offensive line and they did pretty well up front this week. They worked really hard to be better this week.”
The Falcon Knights’ ball-hawking secondary made a total of four interceptions in the game with Roxbury pulling in two picks while Ryan Cooper and Peter Hardy also made picks.
“Our secondary has been doing great,” Dittman said. “Since the Brockway game, we have been working hard with our secondary because at Brockway our secondary didn’t do well and it cost us a football game. We have pushed our secondary to be better and be more aggressive after the ball.”
The Crusaders had to forfeit the second half after losing four players to injuries in the first two quarters. Elk County Catholic came into the game with just 16 healthy players.
“Our kids were playing tough because the y love to play football, Elk County Catholic head coach Nick Werner said. “It is just disappointing we are in the situation we are in.”
Roxbury and Hardy each returned an interception for a touchdown for the Falcon Knights. Roxbury made a 60-yard interception return in the first quarter while Hardy made a 57-yard interception return in the second quarter.
For Hardy, a lineman, reaching the end zone was a dream come true.
“It felt amazing,” Hardy said about his touchdown. “This was my second (career interception) but this was the first one I scored on.”
Elk County opened the contest with Ben Reynolds making a 12-yard run on third-and-long to give the Crusaders a first down but the Elk County drive fizzled near midfield when the Falcon Knight defense stopped Joe Tettis one yard short of a first down on a 19-yard pass from Ben Paul. The Crusaders chose to punt.
Union/A-C Valley responded with a methodical 78-yard, nine-play drive which was capped by a 5-yard touchdown run by Caden Rainey.
Mikey Card opened the drive with a 5-yard run followed by a completion from Bailey Crissman to Rainey for a 6-yard gain. Rainey followed with a 10-yard run and Card broke off a 13-yard run. Later in the drive, Card ran for a 13-yard gain to put the Falcon Knights at the Elk County 20. Crissman followed with a 10-yard run to give Union/A-C Valley a first-and-goal at the Crusader 10. An Elk County offside penalty put the Falcon Knights at the Crusader 5. On the next play, Rainey took the handoff from Crissman and barreled up the gut, was being dragged down by a host of Elk County tacklers but stretched the ball over the goal line as he was falling to the ground for the touchdown.
The Crusaders partially blocked Colton Murray’s PAT attempt but the Falcon Knights held a 6-0 lead with 5:56 left in the first quarter.
The Crusaders saw their next drive end abruptly when Paul tried to connect with Ben Reynolds on a deep post but Roxbury stepped in front of Reynolds to make the pick. Roxbury turned upfield, broke a slew of tackles while darting around the Elk County tacklers on the way to the end zone for the 60-yard interception return.
Roxbury ran in the two-point conversion to stretch the Union/A-C Valley lead to 14-0 with 3:28 left in the opening quarter.
The Crusaders put together a promising march on their next possession with Paul connecting with Joe Tettis for gains of 21 and 30 yards.
Paul was able to find Tettis in the seam and Tettis was able to rumble through the Union/A-C Valley secondary.
Paul connected with Tettis four times in the game for 83 yards with all of the completions coming on the same route.
Dittman knows he has to clean up his defense to stop plays like that against future opponents.
“We have to look at film on those plays and see if our inside guys aren’t getting where they need to be on their drops,” Dittman said. “We definitely got to clean up our middle coverage.”
The Elk County drive came to an abrupt end two plays after a 30-yard completion from Paul to Tettis when the Falcon Knights’ Cooper picked off a Paul pass at the Union/A-C Valley 21.
The Falcon Knights capitalized on the interception by putting together a 13-play, 79-yard drive that was finished by a 20-yard touchdown completion from Crissman to Rainey.
Card did a good amount of heavy lifting on the drive as he had five carries for 53 yards on the drive.
Card finished the night with 102 yards on nine carries.
“Mikey Card was running hard and the offensive line was blocking hard for him up front,” Dittman said. “We knew Mikey Card was going to be special since the beginning of the year and he is starting to show that now.”
On a second-and-6 from the Crusader 13, Card hauled in a Crissman screen pass and rumbled to the Elk County 2 but the Falcon Knights were flagged for an unnecessary roughness penalty on the drive moving Union/A-C Valley back to the Elk County 22. Two plays later, Crissman fired a strike over the middle that was hauled in by Rainey and Rainey scampered into the end zone.
Murray’s extra-point kick extended the Falcon Knight lead to 21-0 with 7:38 left in the first half.
The Crusaders went three-and-out on the following drive and were forced to punt. Reynolds boomed a punt that Rainey hauled in at the Union/A-C Valley 45. Rainey broke past the first wave of the Elk County punt coverage team and outraced the remainder of the Crusaders’ special teams unit for a 55-yard punt return touchdown.
“That kid does some special things,” Dittman said referring to Rainey. “He has been doing it for four years now.”
Murray’s PAT kick stretched the Union/A-C Valley lead to 28-0 with 6:06 left in the first half.
Roxbury picked off a Paul pass on the following Crusader possession. However, on the first play after the turnover, David Anderson intercepted a Crissman pass at the Elk County 37.
Noah Cherry opened the subsequent drive for the Crusaders with a 15-yard scamper putting Elk County Catholic near midfield. Three plays after Cherry’s run, Paul attempted to complete a pass over the middle but Hardy snagged the ball out of the air, broke right, followed a series of blocks by Ryan Cooper and Hardy broke a slew of tackles before crossing the goal line for the 57-yard interception return.
“I caught the ball and my heart was racing and I was running down the sidelines trying to make sure I didn’t step out of bounds,” Hardy said. “I had blockers so I was good to go.”
Murray’s extra-point gave the Falcon Knights a 35-0 lead with 3:54 remaining in the half.
The Crusaders went three-and-out on their next drive and punted the ball back to the Falcon Knights.
Union/A-C Valley responded with a 60-yard, 12-play drive which was finished by a Crissman to Dawson Camper 7-yard touchdown connection as time expired in the half.
Key plays on the drive were a 25-yard completion from Crissman to Roxbury and a 16-yard run by Card.
Crissman completed 6-of-12 passes for 65 yards with two TDs and one interception.
Murray’s extra-point kick was blocked but the Falcon Knights held a 41-0 lead at the halftime break.
Both teams returned to the field after the halftime and the Elk County staff informed the officials of their desire to forfeit the second half of the contest.
Union/A-C Valley is scheduled to host Port Allegany at A-C Valley High School this Friday (Oct. 1)
The Crusaders are scheduled to host Cameron County Friday (Oct. 1).
“We just have to keep our head up,” Werner said. “This is a great group of kids. Sometimes in life you’re dealt this and have to come back from it.”
UNION/A-C VALLEY 41 , ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC 0
Elk County 0- 0- X -X – 0
Union/A-C Valley 14- 27- X -X– 41
U/AC – Caden Rainey 5 run (kick failed), 5:56
U/AC – Skyler Roxbury 60 interception return (Colton Murray kick), 3:28
U/AC – Rainey 20 pass from Bailey Crissman (Murray kick), 7:38
U/AC – Rainey 55 punt return (Murray kick), 6:06
U/AC – Peter Hardy 57 interception return (Murray kick)
U/AC – Dawson Camper 7 pass from Crissman (kick failed), :00
Forfeited by Elk County Catholic
Forfeited by Elk County Catholic
TEAM TOTALS (Elk County Catholic; Union/A-C Valley)
First Downs: 6; 11
Rushes-Yards: 13-34; 19-160
Passing Yards: 108; 65
Comp-Att-Int: 6-17-4; 6-12-1
Total Yards: 142; 225
Penalties-Yards: 3-20; 1-15
Fumbles-Lost: 0-0; 0-0
Rushing – Elk County Catholic, Noah Cherry 10-24, Ben Reynolds 3-10. Union/A-C Valley, Mikey Card 9-102, Caden Rainey 5-28, Bailey Crissman 4-28, Dawson Camper 1-2.
Passing – Elk County Catholic, Ben Paul 6-17-4 108. Union/A-C Valley, Bailey Crissman 6-12-1 65.
Receiving – Elk County Catholic, Joe Tettis 4-83, Lane Dellaquila 1-19, Ben Reynolds 1-6. Union/A-C Valley, Caden Rainey 2-26, Skyler Roxbury 1-25, Mikey Card 1-6, Dawson Camper 1-5, Jacob Bowser 1-3.