BROCKWAY, Pa. – Three key takeaways and a strong rushing attack powered Reynolds past Redbank Valley 19-14 in the PIAA state quarterfinals on Saturday at Frank Varischetti Field in Brockway.
(Photo Courtesy of: Kyle Yates Photography)
The Reynolds Raiders ran the ball well all evening long, while their standout defense limited the Bulldogs to 174 yards of total offense. The Raiders had a 13-7 lead at the half, and continued to play powerful and aggressive football to secure the win. The Bulldogs had a solid performance, gaining yards both on the ground and through the air, but three turnovers doomed Redbank Valley in a game with little margin for error.
Reynolds’ Cole Toy led all rushers with 118 yards and a touchdown, while Aiden Mull rushed for 35 yards. Brayden Mccloskey went 5-7 through the air with 73 yards and a touchdown, with Mull hauling in three passes for 62 of those yards. Cam Wagner led the Bulldogs with 107 yards passing and two touchdowns, with Chris Marshall leading all Redbank Valley receivers with 61 yards and a score. Ray Shreckengost also had 17 carries for 67 yards for Redbank Valley.
Reynolds started out with the football, using their grinding rushing attack to enter Redbank Valley territory. After a costly false start penalty turned a fourth-and-one to a fourth-and-five, Reynolds elected to pooch punt the ball to Redbank, ending a previously promising opening drive.
Redbank started the drive off with a bang, as Shreckengost broke a 35-yard run to power his way into Raiders’ territory. Two plays later, an errant pass by Wagner was intercepted by Reynolds, with a post-pick clipping penalty eliminating an explosive return. Reynolds went right back to their ground game, again successfully advancing the football. After a big run by Mull took the Raiders into the red zone, Mull finished off the drive, scoring on a carry from four yards out. An unsuccessful PAT made the score 6-0 Reynolds with 10:50 left in the second quarter.
The subsequent kickoff was kicked short, and as soon as the Bulldogs’ returner caught the ball, a big hit by the Reynolds kickoff team jarred the ball loose. The Raiders pounced on the loose ball to regain possession, forcing the second Redbank Valley turnover of the day.
After the Bulldogs stuffed Reynolds on first and second down, Mccloskey hooked up with Mull for a 43-yard touchdown pass. Reynolds, who rarely throws the football, managed to execute a perfect go-route straight through the core of the Redbank Valley defense. A successful PAT gave Reynolds a 13-0 lead with just over nine minutes remaining in the first half.
Redbank Valley looked to respond, and Wagner connected with Marshall for a long completion to enter Reynolds territory. The Bulldogs’ ground game then started to heat up, as Shreckengost was able to power ahead for another first down. After entering the red zone, Wagner went right back to Marshall, finding the receiver for a 19-yard touchdown on a fade route. A converted PAT cut the Reynolds lead to 13-7 with 4:20 left in the second quarter.
Reynolds went right back to pounding the football, with Toy’s tough running resulting in a pair of first downs. Redbank Valley’s defense came through with their first big play of the game, stuffing the Raiders on a fourth-and-five attempt to retake possession with :40 to go in the quarter. Despite completing a pair of passes, the clock ran out on the Bulldogs, who trailed 13-7 at the half.
Reynolds started the half with an onside kick, which Reynolds recovered. After a coming together of the referees, they deemed that the ball was recovered inside ten yards of the kick, a penalty that gave the Bulldogs possession and excellent field position. The Bulldogs didn’t keep the ball for long, as another interception gave the ball back to the Raiders.
Reynolds went back to their bread and butter, using powerful runs and quick screen passes to plunge deep into Bulldogs’ territory. After another costly delay of game penalty turned a fourth-and-eight into a fourth-and-14, Redbank Valley forced a turnover on downs, denying Reynolds on a gadget play attempt.
The Reynolds defense looked to give the ball back to the offense, stopping Redbank Valley on three consecutive plays. Unfortunately for the Raiders, a costly roughing the kicker penalty on the subsequent punt kept the Redbank drive alive. After the Bulldogs gained a first down, the Raiders defense recorded second and third down incompletions to force a Bulldogs punt.
Redbank Valley responded with a defensive stop of their own, quickly forcing a three-and-out to retake possession of the football with a minute left in the third quarter. On this drive, it was the Bulldogs turn to take a poorly timed penalty, as a delay of game penalty on fourth down turned a fourth-and-six into a fourth-and-11. The additional yardage required Redbank Valley to punt the football back to the Raiders, who took possession looking to widen their lead.
Toy’s aggressive running was supreme on the drive, as he was able to push through and bounce off of Redbank Valley tacklers for big chunks of yards. Two Redbank Valley unsportsmanlike conduct penalties further hurt the Bulldogs, who were already struggling to contain the Reynolds offense. The Raiders made the penalties count, scoring a touchdown courtesy of a four-yard touchdown run by Toy. The Raiders tried and failed to fake the PAT, giving the Raiders a 19-7 lead with 7:00 remaining in the contest.
Redbank Valley turned to the passing game to jumpstart a comeback, with Wagner connecting with Marquese Gardlock, Dalton Bish, and Marshall to drive deep into Reynolds territory. On key fourth-and-four situation from the 12 yard line, Wagner found Trenten Rupp on a quick slant to score the Bulldogs’ second touchdown of the game. Another converted PAT made the score 19-14 Reynolds with just over 5:00 to go.
With their strong running game, the Raiders are well-equipped to run down the clock. A key third and two conversion took precious time off of the clock, denying a prime chance for the Bulldogs to get the ball back. Toy’s hard running sealed the deal for the Raiders, as they were able to drain the clock and secure a 19-14 victory.
Redbank’s season comes to a close after a stellar 8-1 campaign.