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Port Allegany Upsets Keystone to Move on to Date With No. 1 Seed Redbank Valley

KNOX, Pa. (EYT/D9) – Keystone’s offense was parked on ice on a frigid night.

With Port Allegany grinding out first downs and chewing up clock, the Panthers’ offense ran just nine plays in the first half to 35 for the Gators.

(Photo by Shelly Atzeni)

Hard to get into a rhythm that way. Hard to win a playoff game, too.

Yet Keystone still had a chance, launching a touchdown drive late. But a 2-point conversion pass to the tie the game was batted away and the Panthers had to swallow a 14-12 loss in the first round of the District 9 Class A playoffs on its home field.

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

“They controlled the game at the line scrimmage on both sides of the ball,” lamented Keystone coach Ryan Smith. “That makes it really hard at times. It’s hard in a 24-minute half when you run only nine offensive plays. It really makes it hard to score.”

Keystone (7-3) figured things out on the final drive of the game as Bret Wingard drove the Panthers for a score on a 8-yard pass to Zander McHenry to make it 14-12 with 1:15 remaining.

But AJ Wiley, who was beaten on a 51-yard TD pass from Wingard to McHenry in the first half, batted the conversion pass down to preserve the two-point win.

“That last drive we started to get some consistent completions there and we moved the ball,” Smith said. “I thought if we could have gotten that conversion there it would have set us up pretty well for overtime.”

Wingard was 7 of 15 for 143 yards and the two scores to McHenry.

Keystone struggled on the ground, gaining just 41 yards on 17 attempts.

Port Allegany wanted to make the Panthers throw the ball.

The game plan worked.

So did the one on offense. The Gators wanted to run the ball and they did that very effectively, gaining 202 yards on 54 carries.

“We stuck to our game plan and didn’t get out of sorts or disheveled or anything like that,” said Port Allegany coach Justin Bienkowski.

Bienkowki wishes he could roll players like his junior running back Blaine Moses off an assembly line.

Trouble is there is no mold for Moses. He’s one of a kind.

Moses carried the ball 30 times for 87 yards.

Moses was also a force on defense in the win.

“Blaine is arguably the toughest running back in the league,” Bienkowski said. “I would put Blaine’s toughness, grit and grind against any kid in this league.”

Moses was the thunder for Port Allegany. Noah Archer was the lightning.

Archer rushed for 101 yards on 16 carries.

Quarterback Drew Evens scored both TDs for Port Allegany on short runs. His 3-yard score followed by Archer’s 2-point conversion run – which ended up being huge – put the Gators up 8-0 in the first quarter.

Keystone answered right back with the big pass play from Wingard to McHenry, but the 2-point conversion failed and the Panthers trailed 8-6.

The backbreaker came with Evens scored on a 1-yard run on the final play of the first half for a 14-6 Port Allegany lead.

That lead held up until the final Keystone drive.

“I don’t know how the heck we did it,” Bienkowski said. “But we did.”

Port Allegany will travel to No. 1 seed Redbank Valley next week.

“We’re going to prepare to beat them. We’re going to prepare to compete with them,” Bienkowski said. “We’re going to drive down there and see what happens. Honest to God, we’re just happy to have another week with the guys.”

There’s no more weeks for Keystone, unfortunately.

Still, the Panthers won the Small School South Division – their second division title in three years.

“This group of seniors are the first group of seniors to win two conference titles in school history,” Smith said. “I mean, before Keystone only had one title and this group accomplished two in three years. We thanked the seniors for all they did for this program, to build it with three winning seasons in a row. They’ve overcome a lot of different cards being dealt to them between quarantines and losing senior players for the entire season due to injury. These guys continued to accomplish things and overcome obstacles and that’s only going to make them better in life.

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