HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Ailing Rams falter down stretch
WINGATE — For Ligonier Valley coach Roger Beitel, the playoff push hasn’t quite been what he was looking for.
Injuries to key players, moving players to different positions and inserting younger players into serious playing time isn’t exactly the ingredients for district playoff success.
“We are shuffling positions right now,” Beitel said. “We are trying to teach the young guys things on the fly and hoping for the best. They are responding nicely, but there is still room to grow.”
Consider Friday night’s 45-6 defeat at the hands of Bald Eagle Area a learning experience for the young Rams. With the loss, Ligonier Valley has dropped four straight heading into the District 6 Class AA playoffs.
At times, the Rams offense looked smooth as Scott Fennell was 14 of 22 for 143 yards and a touchdown.
Other times, Ligonier Valley couldn’t catch a break. The Rams were held to just 38 yards on the ground and coughed up four fumbles, including one that was returned for a touchdown.
“Those fumbles really hurt us,” Beitel said. “BEA came into tonight ready to play. We were finding a little success, but then the drive would stall. It was tough to overcome that.”
Pair four lost fumbles with a six combined touchdowns by the Greene twins — Bryce and Bryan — and it is recipe for defeat.
Bryce gouged the Rams’ defense for four touchdowns, three of them coming off the pass of Jason Jones and the fourth coming on a punt return.
“Bryce is a dynamic player,” Bald Eagle Area coach Jack Tobias said. “We knew someone would need to have a big game in order for us to win. Bryce really answered the called for us.”
While Bryce did it through the air, Bryan tacked on a rushing touchdown and scooped up a fumble and returned it for a touchdown.
Bald Eagle started the game out in the Wildcat — a formation the Eagles used for the first time all season — racking up 59 yards on nine plays, capped by Bryan Greene’s 13-yard touchdown run.
“It wasn’t so much of not being prepared for the Wildcat,” Beitel said, “as much as it was just trying to get our newer guys up to speed. We played some younger guys in new positions. I am proud of our fight, but we just couldn’t find an answer.”
The Rams answered right back, marching down the field on a 12-play drive, eating up 73 yards and ending it with a circus-like catch by Garrett Tobias. With first-and-goal from the 8-yard-line, Fennell overshot his intended receiver, and the ball bounced off two defenders and right into the hands of a diving Tobias for six points.
From there, it was all Bald Eagle Area as the Eagles rattled off 38 straight points.
After a field goal by Tyler Schall, Bryce Greene went to work scoring three of his touchdowns.
The first was a bubble screen pass from Jones that he took 50 yards for a score. The second was a 24-yard skinny post from Jones.
The third of his scores might have been the most impressive as he wrangled in a punt — off a hop — and scampered down the sideline for 71 yards and a touchdown.
Heading into the half, Bald Eagle Area held a 31-6 lead.
Bryan Greene kept the momentum in the Eagles’ favor in the second half as he scooped up a fumble and outran the Ram pursuit for 39 yards.
The scoring ended with Bryce Greene hauling in a 33-yard pass from Jones.
“We are still learning,” Beitel said. “It is important for us not to get to down on ourselves. We are getting better and figuring out the team we need to be.”