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BEA advances to quarterfinals; Little Lions lose

by on November 27, 2019 10:53 AM

And then there was one. As in the Bald Eagle Area Bald Eagles who outlasted Sharon, 21-20, in the PIAA, 3A quarterfinal on Nov. 16 at Clarion University. The BEA win sets up a match against District 7 champion Central Valley, a 13-12 winner over Aliquippa in the D7 championship at Heinz Field, also played on Nov. 16. The other Centre County team still in action, State College, did not fare as well. The Little Lions lost 24-21 in the 6A quarterfinal to Pittsburgh Central Catholic at North Allegheny High School in Wexford. For the second week in a row, Central Catholic’s Johnathan Opalko kicked a game-winning field goal late in the fourth quarter to give the Vikings a win. This time, Opalko hit from 37 yards out with just 1 minute, 13 seconds left in the game to complete the Central comeback from an early 14-point deficit.SC took a first-quarter lead after touchdowns by Lokey Howell (on a 94-yard kickoff return) and Dresyn Green. But Central came back to tie the game by halftime, and then both teams scored again (Howell on a 21-yard pass from Brady Dorner) to make it 21-all going down the stretch. State College had an opportunity to go ahead but lost the ball on downs in CC territory, setting up the Vikings’ final drive.

The loss ended the State College season with a record of 11-2, while Central will move on to meet District 12, No. 1 St. Joseph’s Prep in the semifinal.

Memo to opponents of Bald Eagle Area: if you’re thinking about kicking an extra point to tie the game late against the Eagles, perhaps you should consider going for two.

For the second week in a row in the PIAA Tournament, BEA survived to play again when its opponent failed to convert on a late extra point.

Last week, Bedford scored a touchdown in overtime to pull to within 21-20 of the Eagles, but its extra point try sailed wide.

On Friday night at Clarion University, District 10 champion Sharon scored at the end of the third quarter to also come within 21-20, but the Eagles’ blocked the extra point and then held on through a scoreless fourth quarter for to take the win. The Eagles also earned a ticket to the state semifinals in the deal.

Holding on wasn’t easy, however. Sharon drove to the BEA 1-yardline in the fourth quarter but turned it over on a bad snap, and then with time running out, the Tigers got it back to the 15. But the Eagles’ defense held, forcing Sharon to turn it over on downs.

Now, it’s on to face Central Valley.

Last week, Central Valley survived against Aliquippa in overtime after Aliquippa went for a two-point conversion and the win and failed.

Earlier in the OT, Central’s Jaylen Guy scored on a 10-yard run to give his team a 13-6 lead. Aliquippa came right back with a touchdown of its own, but the bid for the win and glory was stopped.

Central Valley’s only loss of the season came at the hands of Thomas Jefferson, 28-3, on Oct. 4. Otherwise, the Warriors cleaned up against a schedule filled with familiar names from all around District 7: Blackhawk, North Catholic, South Park, Mt. Pleasant, Beaver Falls, Aliquippa and Derry.

Coming in to the BEA game, Central is on a six-game streak after PIAA wins over Derry and Aliquippa.

The Warriors run a balanced offense that slightly favors the running game (194 ypg vs. 140), but they can strike quickly with either one.

Quarterback Ameer Dudley, a 6-foot-1, 180 pound junior, completed 88-of-148 passes this season for 1,721 yards and 21 touchdowns. His favorite receiver is Jawon Hall, who hauled in 25 passes for 723 yards and 10 touchdowns.

On the ground, the Warriors are led by Guy, who had 1,153 yards on 166 carries and 10 scores.

On defense, the Warriors are very aggressive. They racked up 103 tackles for loss, 36 sacks, 13 interceptions and 13 fumble recoveries.

Thomas Jefferson and Hopewell were the only two schools to score 28 points against Central Valley, and no one else got past 14. Central held eight opponents to single-digit scoring.

For BEA, at this point it’s all about survive and advance. Another win and the Eagles will be playing for a state championship, but as is usual in the PIAA tournament, every new opponent brings a whole new set of problems.

Things will probably look good, nevertheless, if Central has to line to kick a late extra point.



Pat Rothdeutsch covers Penn State football for The Centre County Gazette. Email him at [email protected]
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