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Running Man: Redbank Valley Turns to Run and Sophomore Drew Byers in the Second Half on the Way to a Big Win Over Union/A-C Valley

NEW BETHLEHEM, Pa. (EYT/D9) — The hype swirls around quarterback Cam Wagner and his four dangerous wide receivers.

But Drew Byers served notice on Friday night against Union/A-C Valley.

Don’t sleep on the Redbank Valley running back.

(Redbank Valley running back Drew Byers breaks into the open field on a run/photo by Madison McFarland.)

Byers rushed for 101 yards and two touchdowns — 97 of those yards and both scores coming in the second half — as the Bulldogs rolled to a 38-8 win over the Falcon Knights.

“The holes opened up and the line blocked really well there,” the sophomore said. “I just found them and ran with it. It’s real fun when it comes together and we have a good balance between the pass and the run.”

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

Byers was shifty and lowered his shoulder when the situation required. Even at 5-foot-8 and 150 pounds, he still runs with surprising power. He sliced his way into the end zone on his first TD run and lowered his shoulder on his second, driving a tackler with him over the goal line.

“There are parts of Drew’s game he has to work on, but his vision is something you can’t teach and his vision is very good,” said Redbank Valley coach Blane Gold. “With him only being a sophomore, we’re excited for the future. We tell him all the time, this isn’t the year where he has to break long stuff. We need him to get five, six yards per carry.”

Byers got quite a bit more.

It came at a good time, too, after Redbank Valley’s offense stalled in the first half after a quick start.

The Bulldogs stormed out to a 14-0 lead just seven minutes into the game on touchdowns passes of nine yards to Ashton Kahle and 55 yards to Mason Clouse, who caught a slant, broke a tackle and weaved his way through the Union/A-C Valley defense to the end zone.

After that initial flurry, Redbank only managed a 30-yard field goal by Owen Clouse to enter the half up 17-0.

The defense, though, shined.

A week after giving up an uncharacteristic 33 points, the Bulldogs were very stingy against Union/A-C Valley, which struggled to sustain drives.

“I was really, really proud of our defense after last week,” Gold said. “It was the most points given up in a win and our starters gave up no points tonight. That was a big deal for us.”

Union/A-C Valley (3-3) was held to fewer than 100 yards of offense until the mercy rule triggered.

Dawson Camper rushed for just 40 yards on 11 carries before leaving the game with an injury early in the second half.

Backup quarterback Owen Bish actually led the Falcon Knights in rushing with 42 yards.

Offensively, Redbank Valley also made some adjustments at the half.

The Bulldogs’ jet touch passes weren’t working as they had in previous games as Union/A-C Valley was snuffing them out.

Redbank Valley (6-0) went away from that in the final two quarters.

“Union/A-C Valley has always been known for playing a very physical, good brand of defensive football,” Gold said. “A lot of that was how they executed.”

Byers had just four yards on four carries in the first half, but broke out after the break.

“We really as a football team the past couple of weeks, we haven’t proved the ability to run between the tackles,” Gold said. “So we put in a heavy set this week and I was really happy with our guys down the stretch. When we had to run the ball, we RAN the ball.”

It was the passing game that got Redbank going again in the second half.

Wagner found Kahle again for a 16-yard score and a 24-0 lead.

Then Byers scored on runs of 3 and 7 to put the Bulldogs ahead 38-0.

That first Bulldog drive quashed any hope of a comeback for the Falcon Knights.

“We challenged them to come out and respond in the second half,” said Union/A-C Valley coach Brad Dittman. “Even down 17-0, we felt like all we needed to do was make some plays and get some things going, duke it out there in the second half. Unfortunately, we didn’t do that. Redbank came out and they took it to us.”

Wagner finished 18 of 22 for 149 yards and three TDs.

Kahle caught five passes for 62 yards and two scores. Tate Minich was the recipient of many of the jet touch passes and finished with eight receptions for 25 yards.

Union/A-C Valley got on the board late in the fourth quarter on an 18-yard pass from Bish to Zach Cooper to make it 38-8.

The Falcon Knights not only lost the game, but left it with some key players banged up again.

In addition to losing Camper, wide receiver Skyler Roxbury and running back Logan Skibinski were hobbled.

“We gotta get healthy,” Dittman lamented.

Redbank Valley has two long road trips the next two weeks at Kane and at Port Allegany.

“The only thing we’re focused on right now is Kane,” Gold said. “I know we have a couple down the stretch here, but the only road trip that matters right now is Kane.”

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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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