LIGONIER — Pass-happy Ligonier Valley remained unbeaten Friday night by cruising to 54-7 victory over West Shamokin.
The victory gave Rams coach Roger Beitel his 100th career win in the Heritage Conference.
“For me, I’m really proud of the opportunity to reach something that no one has ever done before,” said Beitel, who has 121 victories overall in 16 seasons. “To have an opportunity to be the first person to ever win 100 Heritage Conference football games is something pretty special.
“The kids played really well tonight, and I’m super-proud of them.”
Beitel said he had lots of help in reaching the milestone.
“I guess that makes me old, that’s the thing,” he said, laughing. “Again, give credit to all the great kids we’ve had because without them, it’s just a number, and the assistant coaches for all their hard work. I kind of just set the plan in place and those guys deal with it.”
Ligonier Valley, the three-time defending conference champion, ran its record to 5-0 and extended its league winning streak to 33 consecutive games dating to 2015.
The Rams did so while wearing special throwback jerseys made to commemorate the former New Florence Wolverines. The Rams were originally scheduled to wear the jerseys against United two weeks ago, but the Lions forfeited due to a shortage of players.
Ligonier Valley senior quarterback Sam Sheeder threw four touchdown passes, including three to senior split end John Beard in the first half, as the Rams built a 33-0 lead at the intermission against the Wolves (1-4).
Sheeder completed 15 of 24 passes for 296 yards, while Beard had nine catches for 152 yards. He snagged touchdown passes of 7, 10 and 11 yards. Sheeder also tossed an 8-yard scoring strike to senior running back Kyrie Miller.
Miller finished with 97 yards rushing on 14 carries and also scored on a pair of 1-yard runs.
“The kids made plays in the passing game,” Beitel said. “I thought Sam played really well and his decision-making was really good. That drive in the two-minute offense with one minute, 30 seconds left before half really showed his poise and maturation as a quarterback.”
Sophomore running back Nick Beitel contributed a 15-yard touchdown run for the Rams and third-string freshman quarterback Haden Sierocky tossed a 15-yard touchdown pass to sophomore tight end Grant Dowden.
“Our kids played hard — I think we always play hard,” West Shamokin coach Jon McCullugh said. “Coming in, we knew Ligonier Valley obviously is the best team in the conference and they have been for a while for obvious reasons.
“They’re a well-coached football team and I have a lot of respect for their program. They’re a program we would like to be like someday. We’re trying to get to that point.”
With leading rusher Logan McClaffety in street clothes due to an ankle injury, West Shamokin struggled to run the ball. Ten of 19 carries went for negative yardage and the Wolves finished with minus-8 yards on the ground and 128 yards total offense.
“Most people struggle to run the ball against Ligonier Valley, but that made it even tougher on us,” McCullough said. “We’re hoping to be able to get him back next week.”
Sophomore quarterback Bo Swartz completed 14 of 27 passes for 130 yards with one interception. He tossed a 14-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Jaiden Haswell in the fourth quarter against the Rams’ backups.
Senior split end Blake Fairman had four catches for 91 yards.
“I think at times we played well, especially for a stretch there defensively,” McCullough said. “We’re young. We’re coming along. I think we got better tonight. I know the score doesn’t indicate that.”