KNOX, Pa. – A big 20 point second half and a defensive shutout pushed Redbank Valley to a 26-0 victory over a sturdy Keystone Panthers squad as the Bulldogs clinched a District 9 Class 1A playoff berth.
(Hager Paving Player of the Game Aiden Ortz. Ortz had an interception and a forced fumble in the Redbank Valley victory)
Ray Shreckengost led the way on the ground for the Bulldogs, registering 68 yards on 11 carries. Cam Wagner threw for two second half touchdowns, while Aiden Ortz had an interception and a forced fumble for Redbank Valley. Nick Weaver rushed for 77 yards for Keystone in the loss.
The only score of the first half came on Redbank Valley’s first drive of the game. After a long 44-yard run by Ray Shreckengost put the Bulldogs in scoring position, Hudson Martz scored from four yards out to give Redbank Valley an early lead. The PAT failed, making the score 6-0. After an exchange of punts, Redbank Valley went on a long drive, entering the red zone and appearing poised to add to their lead. Keystone stuffed the Bulldogs in the red zone, forcing three incomplete passes to produce a turnover on downs.
The remainder of the first half was defined by interceptions. After a few big rushes by Nick Weaver and a 28 yard screen pass to Caleb Nellis, Keystone broke into Redbank territory for the first time of the night. After a key holding penalty forced Keystone into a third and long, Aiden Ortz picked off Bret Wingard and returned the interception all the way back to Keystone’s 15 yard line. The ball ricocheted off of a helmet before finding a surprised Ortz: “I was just surprised, once it hit off of his helmet I saw it fall into my hands, and I realized that I had to run,” remarked Ortz. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they could not capitalize on the turnover, as Keystone’s defense stood firm. The Panthers used a holding penalty and a key fourth and one stop to deny the Bulldogs points, displaying Keystone’s trademark clutch defense.
Three plays later, the Redbank defense was able to intercept Wingard again. The Trenton Rupp pick gave the Bulldogs yet another opportunity to further their lead. On a second and nine opportunity on Keystone’s 15 yard line, the Panthers joined the pick party, as Gavin Hogue intercepted Mangiantini on the goal line with just over 2:00 to go in the first half. The Panthers gained a few first downs but were unable to enter Redbank territory, bringing an end to the first half.
The second half started out with offensive struggles for both teams, as they exchanged punts for the second time in the contest. The turning point of the game came on the next possession, as Redbank’s Ortz sacked Wingard on his own 10 yard line, forcing a fumble that Joe Mansfield recovered for a touchdown. A failed two-point try put the Bulldogs up 12-0 with 4:00 left in the third quarter.
The next impact play came early in the fourth quarter, when the Bulldogs’ defense forced another fumble, jarring the ball loose from Nick Weaver. Kolby Barrett pounced on the loose ball, giving Redbank Valley possession at Keystone’s 30 yard line. Three plays later, Bulldogs’ quarterback Cam Wagner connected with Christopher Marshall on a fade route for a 26 yard touchdown. Redbank Valley converted their two-point opportunity to boost their lead to 20-0 with 9:40 left in the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter was filled with chippy and overaggressive play, with both teams registering unsportsmanlike penalties and engaging in extracurricular activities. Midway through the fourth quarter, Keystone was penalized for a late hit after a big Redbank Valley punt return, giving the Bulldogs possession on Keystone’s 10 yard line. Wagner promptly connected with Dalton Bish for the Bulldogs fourth touchdown of the game, putting Redbank Valley up 26-0.
The Panthers went on a late fourth quarter drive, but the clock ran out on Keystone before they could find the endzone, sealing the 26-0 decision.
Redbank Valley maintains a perfect 4-0 record, while Keystone falls to 3-2. Next week, Redbank Valley will face Curwensville at Curwensville, and Keystone will have a bye week.
Listen to an interview with Redbank Valley head coach Blane Gold and player of the game Aiden Ortz: