This moral victory stuff is getting old for Penns Valley coach Martin Tobias.
The Rams lost to Tyrone 10-3 last night at Gray-Veterans Memorial Field, their second one-touchdown loss to the Golden Eagles in as many years. And like last year’s 21-14 defeat in Spring Mills, Valley was driving late, only to be turned away by Tyrone’s miserly defense.
So inevitably, the question put to Tobias in the moments after he watched his team fall from 2-0 to 2-1 was whether or not the Rams could take solace in playing so close to Tyrone, a perennial contender, which improved to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the MAC Nittany Division.
“I’m not happy,” Tobias said. “I’m disappointed with how we played. You can’t play one half of football against a team as good as Tyrone.”
That’s a far cry from last season, when, after their Week 9 near-miss, Tobias was impressed with his team’s character and excited to have been part of such a highly-contested game.
But while Tobias was upset to fall short again this season, Tyrone coach John Franco was visibly livid at points when addressing reporters on his own team’s play. At one point, when told the Eagles had committed six penalties for 55 yards in the first half alone, the 14-year coach took a timeout of sorts to regain his composure, walking away a pace or two before circling back to address the issue.
“It frustrates me,” he said. “People might say our team is young so we should expect that, but a team as young as ours just can’t let that happen.”
Truth be told, Tyrone’s first half penalties were mere speed bumps compared to what was ahead in the third quarter. The early ones stalled promising drives, but the penalties in the third quarter took points off the board.
Twice. In a row.
After Valley took its first possession and drove 53 yards to set up a 23-yard field goal by Adam Brown – the first points surrendered by Tyrone this season – the Eagles responded with one of their signature answering drives.
On second down from the 24, Shayne Tate broke loose for 24 yards down the sideline, and a Penns Valley personal foul placed the ball on the Rams’ 38. Tate got the handoff on the next play and broke loose off right tackle for an apparent touchdown that was called back for illegal touching. The penalty took place behind the play at the 11-yard line.
Undeterred, Tyrone turned to Shane Emigh on the play following the penalty, and the senior receiver took a reverse left, split two defenders and dove into the end zone. That play was negated by a holding penalty.
“(That) killed us,” Franco said.
Tyrone was able to salvage the drive when Johnny Shaffer kicked a 32-yard field goal to re-establish a seven-point lead with 57 seconds left in the third quarter.
“That was a big confidence factor because now they’ve got to score and go for the extra-point in the rain just to tie it,” said Franco. “It was big for us to regroup after back-to-back touchdowns were called back.”
Tyrone’s response didn’t seem to bother the Rams. They started their second series of the fourth quarter backed to their own 17-yard line and marched 79 yards in 14 plays, all the way to the Eagles’ 4. Along the way, they moved the sticks four times, converting twice on third down. Taylor Wingard and Ty Corl carried most of the load on the ground, but the big play came on second down from Valley’s 35 when Kyle Hockenberry hooked up with Matt Myers for a 31-yard gain to Tyrone’s 34.
Corl’s 13-yard run four plays later set the ball inside the 10 at the 8, and that’s when things started to come unraveled for the Rams. On second-and-goal from the 6, they were flagged for delay of game, taking the ball back to the 11. The next play, Wingard fumbled a sweep pitch going left, and after recovering and reversing his field was smothered by Shaffer for a 9-yard loss to the 20.
Hockenberry hit Jacob Homan down the seam on the next play, setting up fourth-and-goal from the 9, but a strong rush up the middle forced Hockenberry to step up in the pocket and try to run. He was wrapped up after a one-yard gain by Shaffer and Jordan Good.
“Tyrone is still the cream of District 6,” said Tobias. “We still have to learn to play up to their level.”
In a game between two teams whose defense hadn’t allowed a point, the low final may not come as a surprise. But in the first half, Tyrone looked like they were on the verge of opening things up several times.
The Eagles started the game by driving 60 yards in eight plays to go up 7-0 with 7:54 left in the first quarter. Tate ran three times for 25 yards on the drive, and sophomore quarterback Levi Reihart completed 2 of 2 passes, including a key 13-yard hook up with Emigh on third-and-seven from the Tyrone 43. Emigh capped the drive with a 17-yard run on a reverse and Shaffer kicked the extra point.
Valley answered with a 10-play drive – all runs – down to the Tyrone 27 before Wingard fumbled and Ben Ingle recovered at the 17.
The Eagles drove to the Valley 41 on their next series on the legs of Tate, who got free on a 43-yard run. But on the same series, Tyrone was flagged for illegal procedure and fumbled twice, eventually punting.
On Tyrone’s next possession, the Eagles advanced as far as the Rams’ 12 before an illegal shift on third-and-2 moved the ball back to the 17. Tyrone was forced to settle for a 34-yard field goal attempt, and Shaffer’s kick went wide right.
Tyrone played in Penns Valley territory in all four of its first-half possessions.
“The whole first half, we couldn’t have gone three-plays-and-a-punt more than once, but we couldn’t sustain any long drives because we shot ourselves in the foot,” said Franco.
“We executed better in the second half, but we weren’t doing some things in the first half,” said Tobias. “We didn’t have good field position, and there were a lot of guys just standing around.”
That changed immediately in the third quarter. Valley’s first series of the second half lasted five-and-a-half minutes and 10 plays – nine of them rushes. The drive stalled at the Tyrone 6 after Nick Wilson stuck Wingard for a 2-yard loss on third-and-goal, setting up Brown’s field goal.
“There was a big momentum switch when we drove down and had to settle for a field goal, and then they bounced back and got a field goal,” said Tobias.
Tyrone was outgained by an opponent for the first time this season, with Valley holding a 248-200 advantage in total yards and a 206-164 edge in rushing.
Still, Tate was able to collect his third 100-yard game of the season, totaling 129 yards on 16 carries.
“We were so concerned about their defense. Maybe we needed to be a little more concerned with their offense,” Franco said. “They were tough coming off the ball.”
GRID TIDBITS: Reihart finished 6-for-11 for 36 yards. He also averaged 37.5 yards on four punt, with a long of 46 … Tyrone was penalized nine times for 80 yards … Corl led the Rams with 73 yards on 16 carries … Penns Valley ran 31 offensive plays in the second half to Tyrone’s 20 … Franco’s solution for his team’s glut of penalties? “A lot of up-downs on Monday to get a point or two across,” he said.
Tyrone 10 Penns Valley 3
Tyrone 7 0 3 0 – 10
Penns Valley 0 0 3 0 – 3
Score by Quarters
T – Emigh 17 run (Shaffer kick) 7:54
PV – Adams 23 field goal (4:37)
T – Shaffer 32 field goal (57.1)
First Downs 7 11
Yards Rushing 164 206
Pass Att./Comp. 6-11 2-6
Yards Passing 36 42
Total Offense 200 248
Interceptions 0 0
Fumbles/Recovered 4-0 3-1
Penalties/Yards 9-80 6-45
Punts/Average 4-37.5 4-23
Tyrone – Tate 16-129; Emigh 3-25; Mingle 5-17; Reihart 5-(-7).
Penns Valley – Corl 16-73; Wingard 16-41; Lee 7-35; Hockenberry 4-6; Brown 1-6.
Tyrone – Reihart 6-11-36, 0 TD, 0 Int.
Penns Valley – Hockenberry 2-5-42, 0 TD, ) Int.; Johnson 0-1-0, 0 TD, 0 Int.
Tyrone – Emigh 1-13; Shaffer, 2-10; Mingle 2-8; Gehret 1-5.
Penns Valley – Myers 1-31; Homan 1-11.