Williams Valley Vikings outlasts Shenandoah

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WILLIAMSTOWN - Williams Valley's Beau Yoder clapped about three times after he sacked Shenandoah Valley quarterback Chris Palubinsky on the final play of the first half.

Up four scores at that point, the Vikings had plenty to be happy about.

However, an early celebration turned out to be premature.

In the end, two fourth-quarter turnovers by the defense and a big night from Cole Barnhardt were enough to finally subdue the Blue Devils in Williams Valley's 42-28 victory in a District 11 Class A semifinal Saturday evening at Gerry Stauffenberg Field at Viking Stadium.

The top-seeded Vikings (11-0) built a 35-0 advantage late in the first half, but No. 4 Shenandoah Valley (7-4) scored 28 unanswered points to pull to within a touchdown after a 19-yard scoring strike from Palubinsky to Angelo Maskornick late in the third quarter.

That when the Blue Devils' comeback ended.

After the Vikings were stopped on a fourth-and-1 at

the Shenandoah Valley 2-yard line early in the fourth, the Blue Devils fumbled five plays into their next possession, with Yoder recovering at the Shenandoah 38.

Three plays later, Barnhardt scored on a 32-yard run, breaking two tackles along the way. Cody Miller's conversion kick made it a two-touchdown game.

Tim Schorr then sealed the victory on the Blue Devils' next possession when he intercepted a Palubinsky pass at the Vikings' 29.

Williams Valley hosts rival Tri-Valley for the district title next Saturday. The Bulldogs knocked off Marian 28-13 in Saturday's other semifinal.

It will be the Vikings' first trip to the district title game since 2008, a 43-7 loss to Schuylkill Haven. The Vikings have never won a District 11 Class A title.

"It's been way too long since we got a district title," Williams Valley's J.R. Rummel said.

Barnhardt finished the night with 222 yards rushing on 27 carries. His 36-yard scoring run in the second quarter made it 28-0. In the second half, Barnhardt ran the ball 18 times for 105 yards.

"Whatever the defense plays, that's what we react to," Barnhart said of the Vikings' run game Saturday. "I just tried my best and kept moving."

In his final game at Shenandoah Valley, Palubinsky finished 22-for-39 for 352 yards and four touchdowns, three of which went to Nick Merva that covered 16, 31 and 31 yards. Merva had 10 catches for 202 yards.

Still, the deficit was too much to overcome. So were the four turnovers Shenandoah Valley committed.

"We did too many things wrong," Blue Devils coach Nick Sajone said. "The hole we got in was too big to fill. We couldn't tolerate anything. When the margin of error is so slim, we just couldn't get over the hump."

One of those turnovers came midway in the first quarter when Rummel picked off a Palubinsky screen pass at the Blue Devils 30. He fumbled on the run back inside the 10 but the ball rolled into the end zone and Williams Valley's Albert Wolfgang recovered for a touchdown.

Owen Daniel followed with a 78-yard punt return for a score, then caught a 36-yard scoring pass from Stephen Sedesse. Barnhardt's first touchdown of the night, followed by a 15-yard scoring strike from Sedesse to Codie Miller, made it 35-0 with 1:58 left in the first half.

Then Palubinsky got hot as he threw for 238 yards and three touchdowns in the second half. Two of those scoring drives were started by onside kicks.

"They got the onside kicks and they got their offense going," Williams Valley coach Tim Savage said. "That kept our offense off the field. They had all the momentum.

"Defensively we played lights out until Palubinsky got his groove going in the second half. He's one of the most talented quarterbacks around. When he gets firing, he's pretty tough."

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