Last-minute scores gives Steel-High 24-20 win
By Rob Wheary, Staff Writer • firstname.lastname@example.org
SHAMOKIN – It was a scene that played out several times this season, Williams Valley drives with time winding down in the game, getting that go-ahead score that pulled out the victory.
In this game, though, Williams Valley found itself on the wrong end of the comeback, as Steelton-Highspire scored with 90 seconds left in the game to pull out a 24-20 win in the PIAA Class A football quarterfinals at Kemp Memorial Stadium, Shamokin on Nov. 25.
Williams Valley head coach Tim Savage, dejected after the game, said he understands the heartbreak that several teams that played against the Vikings this season felt.
“You feel what Marian felt, what Tri-Valley felt,” Savage said. “You know what the people we’ve done it too feel. To come so close, and see it all slip away like that.”
With Williams Valley leading 20-17 with six minutes left in the game, the Vikings went into ball control amassing first downs and keeping the ball out of Steel-High’s hands.
Williams Valley drove the ball down to Steel-High 45 before a pair of illegal motion penalties pushed them back to their own 45.
From there, Dylan Rabuck pushed all he could to gain 16 yards forcing a fourth-and-five at the Steel-High 39. Savage and his assistants huddled together to decide what to do. The plan was to punt and push Steel-High back deep into its own territory.
The punt went in the air and angled out of bounds at the Steel-High 23-yard line, going only 16 yards and giving the Rollers the ball with two minutes left in the game.
With time running down, Steel-High looked to a big combination in the game for them, quarterback Malachi Young throwing to receiver Lathaniel Webster-Spencer. The two hooked up three times, first for eight yards, then for 19, taking them to midfield.
The next play was the killer for the Vikings and the two went on the right sideline and completed a pass for 50 yards, scoring with 1:33 left in the game.
With the Vikings getting the ball back, Allan Hand got the Vikings in good field position, taking the ensuing kickoff down to the Steel-High 48. At that point, The Vikings went to the passing game. With Williams Valley facing fourth and its season, quarterback Levi Engle completed a pass to Kenny Reed for 13 years, taking the Vikings to the Steel-High 33 with 42.7 second left.
On second down, Engle’s scramble appeared to take the Vikings to the 20-yard line, but a holding call pushed them back to the Steel-High 49. Williams Valley threw two passes to the end zone that were incomplete and Steel-High took the victory and advanced to meet Bishop Guilfoyle in the state semifinals.
Steel-High took the lead in the first quarter with a nine-play, 79-yard drive that featured eight rushes by running back Jarval Flowers, who ran for 134 yards in the game, including the 12-yard run in the endzone for the first score on the night.
Steel-High made it 10-0 on their next drive that went 13 plays, including a fumbled punt that gave the Rollers the ball on the Williams Valley 29. Steel-High drove to the 10 before stalling out and on fourth-and-six. Kicker Nicholas Neidlinger hit the 27-yard field goal to up Steel-High’s lead
Williams Valley got on the board on the next drive, going 75 yards in six plays with a big chunk of yardage coming from running back Dylan Rabuck. After a nine-yard run by Rabuck that saw a Steel-High player hit him late and Rabuck landing underneath the bench on the home sidelines. As many were calling for the player to be ejected, the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty fired up Rabuck and the Vikings as two plays later, Rabuck found the hole in the defensive line for the 34-yard gain.
Engle’s one-yard run gave Williams Valley the touchdown and he threw to Jake Wolfgang for the two-point conversion, making the score 10-8 with 7:40 left in the half
Steel-High pushed the lead back to nine points with their next score, a five-yard touchdown run by Flowers. Williams Valley answered right back through. The first two plays were rushes for losses, but then Engle completed his biggest pass of the night, a long shot to Wolfgang for the 66-yard score. The two-point conversion failed and Steel-High led 17-14 at halftime.
After the teams traded turnovers, Williams Valley took the lead for the first time late in the third quarter. Devon Rabuck got the ball for the Vikings after intercepting a pass at the Steel-High 19, then Engle scrambled for 10 yards giving Williams Valley first and goal at the nine. Dylan Rabuck punched it in on the next play, giving the Vikings the 20-17 lead and setting up the frenetic finish.
“They didn’t do anything in the second half except what they needed to in the last drive,” Savage said after the game. “We beat ourselves, but it’s something to build on for next season.”
For Williams Valley, the season ends with a 12-2 record and a District XI Class A championship and will return all but three two-way starters.
“This season has been a blessing. This was new territory for us, week 2 into states and we did a great job,” Savage said. “When you play this deep into the playoffs, it’s an extra half a season. I just hope it marinates with the kids and stings with the underclassmen, who can make a difference next year.
Steelton-Highspire — 7 10 0 7 — 24
Lackawanna Trail — 0 14 6 0 — 20
Order of scoring
SH — Flowers 12-yard run (Neidlinger kick)
SH — Neidlinger 27-yard field goal
WV — Engle one-yard run (Wolfgang pass from Engle)
SH — Flowers five-yard run (Neidlinger kick)
WV — Wolfgang 66-yard pass from Engle (pass failed)
WV — Dy. Rabuck nine-yard run (run failed)
SH — Webster-Spencer 50-yard pass from Young (Neidlinger kick)
First downs: SH-20, WV-17
Rushes-yards: SH-39-131, WV-34-123
Passing: SH 16-23-1, WV-8-25-1
Passing yards: SH-205, WV-194
Total yards: SH-336, WV-317
Penalties: SH 5-60, WV-9-65
RUSHING: Steel-High — Flowers 27-134, Ramsey 3-9, Kater 1-6, Lockette 2-1, Team 1-(-8), Young 5-(-11). Williams Valley — Dy. Rabuck 28-129, Wolfgang 1-2, Engle 5-(-8).
PASSING: Steel-High — Young 16-23-1, 205 yards. Williams Valley — Engle 8-22-1, 194 yards. Team 0-3-0
RECEIVING: Steel-High — Webster-Spencer 9-140, Grant 4-49, Flowers 3-16. Williams Valley — Wolfgang 3-113, De. Rabuck 2-38, Hand 1-29, Reed 1-13, Savage 1-1.
INTERCEPTIONS: Steel High — Shepherd-Anderson. Williams Valley— De. Rebuck.