Moshannon Valley topples Bald Eagle Area, 27-7
Saturday, August 30, 2014
By Jon Christoff Sports Writer
WINGATE - The Moshannon Valley offense had no problems doing its job last season, but the Black Knights' defense couldn't hold up its end of the bargain.
After giving up a record amount of points in 2013, it was the Mo Valley defense's turn to hold firm until the high-flying offense got on track in the season opener at Bald Eagle Area on Friday night.
The Knights answered head coach Michael Keith's challenge, as the Eagles mustered just 18 yards of offense on 27 plays in the second half.
Mo Valley answered a 7-0 halftime deficit with 21 third quarter points, as it left Alumni Stadium with a 27-7 victory.
"The defense stepped up," said Keith. "We challenged the kids and they responded. They were in great position all night.
"(Bald Eagle Area) had a few plays here and there, but that's going to happen in a football game. For the most part, we played lights-out defense."
The Eagles opened the scoring in a defense-dominated first half with an interception return for a touchdown.
The Bald Eagle Area front harassed quarterback Eric Sherkel and flushed him out of the pocket. Sherkel heaved up a prayer, which Eagle defender Cody Scholl plucked out of the air and raced 28 yards to paydirt.
After a halftime adjustment, however, the Knights had no problem navigating their way into the end zone - thanks, mostly, to the defense setting up the offense with a short field.
Sherkel was just 3-of-11 in the first half with a pair of interceptions, but the junior signal-caller completed eight of 14 attempts in the second half and tossed three third quarter TDs - two of which came on fourth down.
"That's just playmakers making a play," Keith said. "Eric is an exceptional athlete, and he just kept the play alive. The receivers worked to get open, and he saw it.
"He was excited (because) it was the first game. I told him after the game, ‘when you settle down, you play really well,' and he's only a junior yet. He has another year, so he's growing.
"In the first half, we weren't getting outside on our rolls because their ends were just coming upfield. We made a halftime adjustment to have (Sherkel) step up and then go out, and it paid off."
Mo Valley wasted little time in the third quarter to draw even.
After receiving the opening kickoff, the Knights marched to the Bald Eagle Area 25-yard line before Sherkel came up empty on three straight pass attempts.
His fourth shot didn't miss its target, however, as Sherkel kept a play alive and found sophomore Curtis Neff in the end zone. Terril Stiles booted the first of his three PATs to even the game with 9:30 showing on the clock.
The Mo Valley defense came up big once more, as it forced the Eagles to go three-and-out after Kameron Swoope recorded a sack on third-and-5.
A 7-yard punt gave the Knights possession at the 22, and Sherkel once more worked his magic on fourth down from the 15.
Sam Demko juggled Sherkel's pass at the goal line amid a host of Eagle defenders, but emerged with possession and, ultimately, the game-winning touchdown.
"That's what we need," said Keith of the defensive pressure. "With Craig (Ohs) and Kameron on the edge, that (pressure) means a lot, and it helps the secondary out so much when they get to the quarterback.
"The receivers stepped up. We gave the ball to (Jake) Murawski on sweeps, too, and to think we have him for three years ... Sam and Craig caught the hitches when we needed it, and Sam caught a touchdown on a broken play. Everybody stepped up."
Murawski capped the 21-point stanza with a 12-yard scoring strike with 1:26 to go in the frame, while Ryan Thomas rumbled 10 yards for the exclamation point with 1:32 to play.
The Knights' schedule doesn't get any easier, as they travel to face Bellwood-Antis on Friday before hosting Tussey Mountain and Mount Union in consecutive weeks.
"This win is huge," Keith said. "Everyone in the preseason had us (starting) 0-4 and they were saying our schedule is front-loaded. Baloney. We're 1-0 and we're just going to keep it rolling."
EXTRA POINTS: The meeting was the first between the schools since 1968, while the win was the Knights' first since a 7-0 victory in 1959. The Eagles lead the all-time series, 11-3. ... Sherkel ended the game with 157 yards through the air. Neff led all receivers with 72 yards on three receptions. Murawski caught four passes for 34 yards and rushed four times for 32 more. ... Thomas led all ballcarriers with 52 yards on 15 attempts. ... Swoope finished the game with 2.5 sacks to his credit, while Ohs pounced on a loose ball that set up the Sherkel-to-Murawski strike. ... Mitchell Struble paced Bald Eagle Area on the ground with 12 rushes for 37 yards, while QB Jason Jones was 6-of-20 for 71 yards. Sherkel intercepted him on the game's first possession. ... The Eagles will try to bounce back Friday at Philipsburg-Osceola.
Moshannon Valley 27
Bald Eagle Area 7
Score By Quarters
Mo Valley 0ÁÁ0 21À 6-27
Bald Eagle Area 0ÁÁ7ÁÁ À0Á 0-À7
BEA-Scholl 28 int. return, (Ishler kick), 7:33.
MV-Neff 25 pass from Sherkel, (Stiles kick), 9:30.
MV-Demko 15 pass from Sherkel, (Stiles kick), 3:11.
MV-Murawski 12 pass from Sherkel, (Stiles kick), 1:26.
MV-R. Thomas 10 run, (kick blocked), 1:32.
Total First Downs 15 5
Rushes-Yards 42-95 31-59
Comp-Att-Int 11-25-2 6-21-1
Passing Yards 157 71
Total Plays-Yards 67-252 52-130
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-1
Punts-Avg 5-32 4-27.8
Penalties-Yards 5-49 3-20
Moshannon Valley-R. Thomas 15-52, Murawski 4-32, Sherkel 16-28, Frailey 4-9, Neff 1-(-13), Team 2-(-13).
Bald Eagle Area-Struble 12-37, Hockenberry 9-35, Peters 2-3, Morgan 1-1, Heinbaugh 1-(-2), Jones 6-(-15).
Moshannon Valley-Sherkel 11-of-25, 157 yds., 3 TD, 2 Int.
Bald Eagle Area-Jones 6-of-20, 71 yds., Int; Kresovich 0-of-1.
Moshannon Valley-Neff 3-72, Murawski 4-34, Ohs 2-26, Demko 2-25.
Bald Eagle Area-Hockenberry 1-28, Robinson 2-27, Scholl 2-13, Kunes 1-3.