PURCHASE LINE — In the words of Purchase Line coach Matt Falisec, Ligonier Valley has got it going on right now.
The Rams dominated up front, piled up 480 yards of offense and rolled to a 48-0 victory over the Red Dragons on Friday night at Barry T. Madill Field to remain unbeaten.
Ligonier Valley (6-0) scored on an 89-yard swing pass on its first offensive snap and never turned back en route to another big Heritage Conference win.
Kyrie Miller rushed for 237 yards and four touchdowns and broke more than a handful of tackles while running 89 yards on the Rams’ first play from scrimmage. Ligonier Valley racked up 326 rushing yards on the night.
“Our line did a tremendous job opening up those holes. It was ridiculous,” the senior running back said. “I saw the hole then I just sort of knew I was gone in the back of my mind then I was just thanking them the whole way down the field.”
The Rams scored five touchdowns in the first half on just 12 offensive plays.
“We spent a lot of time Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday just with our offensive line, and a lot of credit goes to those guys for coming out and executing exactly the way we thought,” Ligonier Valley coach Roger Beitel said.
Purchase Line, which dropped to 3-3, entered Friday’s game wanting to keep the ball out of the Rams’ hands as much as possible. The Red Dragons managed to eat almost four minutes off the clock on their first possession and also forced the Rams into just their second punt this season, but there were unable to capitalize and struggled to get much else going the rest of the evening. Purchase Line finished with 143 yards of offense.
“In all honesty, all we were trying to do was chip away 3 or 4 yards at a play and trying to work the clock,” Falisec said. “We were ready with that, but anything we would try to run wide or trap was just totally getting eaten up, so it was straight ahead.”
Josh Syster rushed for 83 yards, and Cullen Goncher had 48 to lead Purchase Line.
“We knew with their running game coming in that we had to get our guys ready,” Beitel said. “That was a point of emphasis this week to get our defensive line coming off the ball and trying to create penetration and take away running lanes. Overall, I thought they did a really good job.”
Rams quarterback Sam Sheeder threw for 157 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 35 yards and a score to help complement Miller’s big night.
After their 89-yard touchdown that began the onslaught, a “great way to start the game” as described by Miller, the Rams scored on runs of 75 yards, 63 yards, 2 yards and 38 yards — all by Miller.
“In general I would just like to thank my line, and not even just my line, all the receivers out there as well,” he said. “They all set up blocks for me downfield, and all I had to do was make one cut. Honestly, my game is just as much their game.”
“They are as advertised,” Falisec said of the Rams. “They are big and strong up front, and they were just moving us. You work on it all week, but it doesn’t do anything when you have ninth-graders running against your varsity. Obviously they don’t have ninth-graders playing on their line. The matchup wasn’t quite what we were expecting. They were moving us up front pretty easily.”
On their first possession of the second half, Sheeder hit John Beard on a 54-yard touchdown pass that gave the Rams a 41-0 lead after the extra point that put the running clock into effect.
Sheeder scored from 9 yards on the Rams’ next drive to set the final score.
“All the credit to Ligonier Valley,” Falisec said. “They have the program where we want to get to, and I think they have the program that people in the conference want to get to, and that’s why you hate playing them every year. It’s a hard game to prepare for.
“I was hoping for a little better of an outing than what we did tonight.”
Falisec said the morale of his team remains high despite the lopsided loss and the .500 record. The Red Dragons will look to get back on track next week in a rivalry game at Penns Manor.
The Rams will stay on their quest for a fourth straight conference title when they play at home against 5-1 Marion Center next week.
“We’ll enjoy this for 48 hours,” Beitel said. “We’ll be excited to play our sixth home football game in two years. Anytime we get a chance to play and play at home is super-special. I can tell you this, Marion Center will get our best effort on both sides of the ball. We’ll see if we can’t separate ourselves from the pack.”