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Redbank Valley Tops Union/A-C Valley in Battle of Defenses, 28-6

RIMERSBURG, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Yards were as difficult to come by. First downs? Forget about it.

Early on in a battle of Small School South Division titans, the defenses were downright impenetrable.

Fitting then that a pair of defensive plays by the Redbank Valley football team were the key blows for the Bulldogs in a 28-6 win at Union/A-C Valley on Friday night.

Defense ruled the soggy night.

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

“Redbank Valley is all about the D,” said Redbank Valley senior defensive tackle and running back Ray Schreckengost. “We show up and we turn up. We do what we do.”

Schreckengost made the first huge play of the game when he charged through the line and jumped on a loose ball in the end zone for a touchdown. Union/A-C Valley quarterback Bailey Crissman had trouble snatching a low shotgun snap and couldn’t get on it before Schreckengost.

It was one of eight turnovers in the game for the Falcon Knights.

Gunner Mangiantini, who has been playing quarterback on 2-point plays for Redbank Valley this season, bolted into the end zone for the conversion and an 8-0 lead for the Bulldogs late in the second quarter.

The way the defenses were playing, that lead looked as good as 80-0.

“Turnovers and penalties killed us tonight,” said Union/A-C Valley coach Brad Dittman. Unfortunately, that has been a common theme for the Falcon Knights this season and it came back to haunt them again after sinking them all the way back in Week 1 against Brockway. “We couldn’t get things going on offense because of the turnovers. Every time we seemed to maybe start moving the ball a little, we had a penalty or a turnover.”

It didn’t help that Redbank Valley (8-1) had Union/A-C Valley (6-2) backed up in its own end for virtually the entire first half.

The Bulldogs won the field position game, too.

The Falcon Knights, though, made two huge stops after mistakes gave Redbank Valley the ball at the Union/A-C Valley 9 and 5 on two straight possessions.

The Bulldogs were held scoreless on goal-line stands both times.

“Their defense is every bit as advertised,” said Redbank Valley coach Blane Gold. “They punched us in the mouth. This is two years in a row where it’s just been an absolute defensive slobberknocker.”

Union/A-C Valley’s one haymaker came when Chris Marshall tried to lateral the ball to Marquese Gardlock on a punt return. Instead, Mikey Card scooped it up at the 18 and rumbled into the end zone early in the third quarter.

The 2-point conversion pass failed, however, and the Falcon Knights were still down 8-6.

Redbank Valley answered back quickly as Bryson Bain found Gardlock for a 33-yard TD pass to give the Bulldogs a 15-6 lead.

And a little breathing room.

“That’s the type of player (Marquese) is for us,” Gold said. “He’s one of our hardest workers in practice, and when we need something, we like to take a shot to him.”

Aiden Ortz delivered the knockout blow, picking off Crissman and racing 71 yards for a touchdown and a 22-6 Redbank lead three minutes into the fourth quarter.

Sophomore safety Ashton Kahle also had a huge day for the Redbank defense with three interceptions. The Bulldogs had five picks in the game.

(Redbank Valley sophomore defensive back Ashton Kahle had three interceptions and was named the Hager Paving Incorporated Player of the Game)

“There was a lot of hype around this game,” Kahle said. “Going out there, making big plays and changing the game feels amazing.”

Redbank Valley struggled to run the ball until the fourth quarter. Schreckengost finally busted a big 48-yard run down to the Union/A-C Valley 4 and then finished off the drive with a 1-yard score two plays later.

Schreckengost, who had just seven yards on 11 carries in the first half, finished with 75 yards on 16 attempts.

“Obviously, the run game was a little slow early,” Schreckengost said. “In the second half, as you saw, my linemen were still in there battling and grinding. They still had juice left in them and they gave it their all for me.”

Schreckengost began the season with a torn hamstring but, remarkably, played through it and is now close to 100%, he said.

“It was terrible. It hurt so bad,” Schreckengost said, grinning. “But for those guys on the field, I’d take any amount of pain. I feel good now.”

So does Redbank Valley, which will close out the regular season next week at Punxsutawney.

But there’s still some work to do.

In the rain, Bain completed 12 of 26 for 115 yards and the one TD. Marshall caught three passes for 61 yards and Gardlock four passes for 45 yards.

Bain was sacked five times in the game. Landon Chalmers had three and a half of them.

“At this point in the year, you gotta be able to win football games like this,” Gold said. “There’s a lot of stuff we have to get better at offensively. We really have to clean some stuff up. But when you look at how much this team has grown over the nine weeks — we lost a game like this Week 1 — and we won an ugly game tonight.”

Union/A-C Valley had a rough night offensively. Crissman was just 4 of 17 for 59 yards and the five interceptions. Card led the ground game with 30 yards on eight attempts as the Falcon Knights were held to just 96 yards of offense.

The big thing Union/A-C Valley has to work on is obvious, however.

Taking care of the football.

“We have to work really hard this week with our ball security,” Dittman said. “We have a good Coudersport team coming in on Friday night. We have a lot of work to do this week.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

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