By Chris Rossetti
DUBOIS, Pa. – After doing nothing offensively in a scoreless first half, Brockway exploded for 32 second-half points on its way to a 32-6 win over Redbank Valley in the District 9 Class A semifinals Saturday night at DuBois’ E.J. Mansell Stadium.
“Yeah, we were a little flat earlier, then we came out with 32 points in the second half,” Brockway head coach Frank Zocco said. “We controlled both lines of scrimmage.”
Brockway mustered just 60 yards of offense and two first downs while punting the ball six times in the first half.
But after halftime, the Rovers rolled up 227 yards of offense while picking up 11 first downs and scoring four touchdowns to go with a field goal.
“This was a good team (we played),” Zocco said. “They came out and scouted us well. They had answers for some of the things we did in the first half. In the second half, we made a couple of little changes, a little bit of adjustment. There was one slight adjustment I would say on the line. But it was more just what we were running and how we were running it.”
While Brockway’s offense was 180 degrees different in the second half from the first half, the Rovers defense continued the dominance it had before halftime when it limited Redbank Valley to 55 yards and four first downs in the second half allowing just 37 yards in the half and one first down with 22 of those yards and the lone first down coming on the game’s final play.
“Our defense was awesome,” Zocco said. “We stopped them, stuffed them. They had no answer for us. Defensively, we were stout the whole way through, and we played well.”
The Rovers were especially effective against Redbank Valley start Wyatt Hetrick holding the senior back to just 55 yards rushing on 17 carries including seven yards on just three second-half totes.
He’s a great back,” Zocco said. “But we have very good on-the-job training with our AML South foes. Ridgway, Curwensville, Kane, Elk County, those teams prepare us well for the playoffs, not the mention we threw Clearfield in there. That helps for these types of game. It gets us ready for the playoffs. Those games make these games easier.”
Brockway kicker Jarret Esposito also played a critical role in the second half making sure field position favored the Rovers the entire half.
Thanks to his long, high kickoffs, Redbank Valley’s average start position after halftime was its own 23, and even that was skewed by the fact the Bulldogs final drive started at midfield. Before that, the first five Redbank drives of the second half were at the Bulldogs 21-, 19-, 9-, 20- and 22-yard lines.
On the other hand, partially because Redbank Valley was also starting so deep and partially because the Bulldogs couldn’t move the football, Brockway’s average drive start in the second half was the Redbank Valley 44 with only one drive not starting in Bulldog territory – it was the the Brockway 37.
“It was huge,” Zocco said. “We knew if we could get it into one of those corners on them (on the kickoff) it would be difficult for them to do those crosses they love to do. Our guts got down there quick.”
Field-position problems started right out of the second-half gate for Redbank Valley, which elected to make Esposito rekick the second-half opening kickoff that went out of bounce instead of taking the ball at the Redbank Valley 35-yard line. That decision immediately backfired when the subsequent return gave the Bulldogs the ball at their own 21.
Three plays lost five yards, and after a 33-yard punt, Brockway took over at the Redbank Valley 49.
The Rovers then went on a methodical 10-play drive that ended with an 8-yard Hunter Miller to Cody McClintick touchdown pass, the first career touchdown catch for the senior who entered the game with just one career catch earlier this year.
The Rovers defense then rose up big two plays after the touchdown when Jake Gorham picked off a Connor Shoemaker pass giving Brockway the ball at the Redbank 34.
Another methodical drive ensued, this one taking seven plays and ending in a 1-yard Mark Latuska touchdown run.
Up 12-0 at the end of the third quarter, Brockway made it 19-0 on the first play of the fourth when Miller, who led the Rovers with 100 yards rushing on just nine carries, scored on a 42-yard run that looked like it might put the game away.
But Hetrick had other ideas, returning the ensuing kickoff 89 yards for a score, his third kickoff return for a touchdown this year.
“He (Esposito) kicked it right in the middle of the field to Hetrick,” Zocco said. “I’m like, my god don’t kick it right in the middle of the field. he did, and we also didn’t contain the edge.”
Brockway quickly shrugged off the Hetrick return though answering back with a 25-yard field goal from Esposito, one of two field goals on the day for the junior, to make it 22-6 Rovers with 6:55 to play.
Brockway wasn’t done, as Dylan Lecates picked off a Shoemaker pass to set Brockway yp at the Redbank 42, and Miller, who was also 10 of 16 passing for 86 yards, hit Ty Bittner with a 42-yard touchdown pass to make it 29-6 with 6:35 to play.
“Team now they are going to load the box on us because we run the ball so well,” Zocco said. “If everyone is going to load the box on us, we’re going to have to make some throws. Hunter made some throws, and good for him because that is still coming.”
Esposito then finished off the scoring with his second field goal of the game with 48.2 seconds left, this one an impressive boot from 42 yards out.
Brockway will take on Kane in the District 9 title game for the second straight year at 1 p.m. Saturday at E.J. Mansell Stadium in DuBois. The Rovers lost to the Wolves in the title game last year, and also lost to Kane, 21-14, in the regular season this year.
“It’s awesome to get back,” Zocco said. “It’s a great we are facing. I think, no doubt, coming into the season, we were the best two teams going into it. And, I think, the best two teams are playing for the championship, which is how it should be.”
BROCKWAY 32, REDBANK VALLEY 6
Score by Quarters
Redbank Valley 0 0 0 6 – 6
Brockway 0 0 12 20 – 32
B – Cody McClintick 8 pass from Hunter Miller (Jarrett Esposito kick blocked), 5:35
B – Mark Latuska 1 run (Run failed), 1:50
B – Miller 42 run (Esposito kick), 11:51
R – Wyatt Hetrick 89 kickoff return (Clint Thurston kick failed), 11:35
B – Esposito 25 field goal, 6:55
B – Ty Bittner 42 pass from Miller (Esposito kick), 6:27
B – Esposito 42 field goal, 48.2
|Brockway||TEAM STATS||Redbank Valley|
RUSHING – Brockway: Hunter Miller 9-100 (1 TD), Mark Latuska 24-99 (1 TD), Troy O’Brien 4-4, Chad Perrin 1-negative 2. Redbank Valley: Wyatt Hetrick 17-55, Connor Shoemaker 9-3, Clint Thurston 1-negative 2, Curtis Mohney 1-2, Team 1-negative 1.
PASSING – Brockway: Hunter Miller 10-for-16, 86 yards, 2 touchdowns. Redbank Valley: Connor Shoemaker 4-for-14, 35 yards, 2 interceptions.
RECEIVING – Brockway: Jake Gorham 2-16, Dylan Lecates 1-2, Andrew Trunzo 3-11, Cody McClintick 1-8, Troy O’Brien 1-5, Ty Bittner 2-44. Redbank Valley: Chase Wiles 1-8, Brock Barrett 1-1, Curtis Mohney 1-4, Devin Schimp 1-22.
INTERCEPTIONS – Brockway: Jake Gorham, Dylan Lecates.