– At times it was a gritty tough night, but Tri-Valley finds itself back in the District XI championship football game.
Coach Mike Ulicny and his squad reached the title game with a 17-7 win over Pottsville Nativity Nov. 3 at Bulldog Stadium in the District XI Class A semifinal, setting themselves up for a rematch against backyard rival Williams Valley at Cardinal Stadium.
“We got win number 8 which is good and we are going to be playing for a medal next week,” Ulicny said following the game. “We are further than we were last year, and it’s not going to be easy next week, but we are in that position that we have a chance.”
Tri-Valley made its own luck at the start of the game when Nativity’s Andrew Buchinski was stripped of the ball on the second play of the game, and Tri-Valley recovered it, returning it to the Green Wave 30-yard line. With leading back Dan Scheib out for this game with an injury, the rushing game was left to junior Ike Lucas and senior Dawson Schwalm with quarterback Logan Yoder mixing it up with passing and running the ball.
Six plays after the fumble, Dawson Schwalm ran it in from the one, putting the Dawgs up 7-0 after Jon Stiely’s extra point.
After forcing Nativity to punt, Tri-Valley took control of the rest of the first quarter, putting together a four-minute, 10-play drive that was helped by a 15-yard face mask penalty. Yoder found receiver Ashton Buchanan three times during the drive, on passes of 5, 12 and 22 yards to bring Tri-Valley to the Nativity 1, where Yoder snuck it in himself, putting the Bulldogs up 14-0 after one quarter of play.
After the teams traded the ball back and forth through punts and the Tri-Valley defense forcing a stop after a Nativity interception gave the Green Wave first and 10 on the Tri-Valley 20, but two sacks pushed them back to the 35, Nativity cut the Tri-Valley lead in half with a six-play 50-yard drive, helped by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Tri-Valley in the Bulldog red zone.
Quarterback Sincere Walker put the Green Wave on the board with a one-yard run, making the score Tri-Valley 14, Nativity 7 at the half.
That’s the way the score stayed until about nine minutes left in the fourth quarter when Tri-Valley got the ball on their own 40-yard line. On the first play, Schwalm gained one yard, but the officials tacked on another 15 for a late hit by Nativity put the Dawgs in Green Wave territory. Tri-Valley drove down to the Nativity 5 and on fourth and 3, sent in kicker Jon Stiely for the field goal attempt. As he did with the two previous extra points, Stiely put it through the uprights for the 21-yard score, putting Tri-Valley up 17-7 which held up for the final score.
“It wasn’t the most exciting game in the world with our offense being down lately the last couple of weeks, but enough to win and we will take it,” Ulicny said.
Schwalm led the team in rushing with 17 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown, while Lucas added 51 yards on his 13 touches, while Yoder ran 10 times for 40 yards. Yoder completed five passes for 53 yards with one interception, and Buchanan was the leading receiver with four catches for 45 yards.
For Ulicny and the Bulldogs, the District XI Class A championship game gives them a chance to avenge their worst defeat of the season, a 50-7 loss to Williams Valley in week 9 of the season. Ulicny knows its an uphill climb right now, but not impossible.
“We have a chance,” Ulicny said following the game. “If you have a chance, you never know what’s going to happen. If the kids believe and we get a couple breaks, you never know what will happen.”
Nativity — 0 7 0 0 — 7
Tri-Valley — 14 0 0 3 — 17
TV — Schwalm 1-yard run (J. Stiely kick)
TV — Yoder 1-yard run (J. Stiely kick)
N — Walker 1-yard run (Sanchez kick)
TV — J. Stiely 21-yard FG
First downs: Nativity 6, Tri-Valley 13
Rushes-Yards: Nativity 36-117, Tri-Valley 40-160
Passing: Nativity 1-5-1, Tri-Valley 5-13-1
Passing Yards: Nativity -1, Tri-Valley 53
Total Yards: Nativity 116, Tri-Valley 213
Penalties: Nativity 5-45, Tri-Valley 6-68
Rushing: Nativity —Schreffler 15-48, Muldrow 6-46, Walker 12-18, McDonald 3-4. Tri-Valley — Schwalm 17-69, Lucas 13-51, Yoder 10-40.
Passing: Nativity — Walker 1-5-1, -1 yards. Tri-Valley — Yoder 5-13-1, 53 yards.
Receiving: Nativity — McDonald 1-(-1). Tri-Valley — Buchanan 4-45, Ziegmont 1-8.