CLARION, Pa. – In the present day and age of major collegiate football, the famous phrase “style points” is often used in describing victories.
Thank goodness “style points” aren’t needed come playoff time. Whether it be pretty or not, a win is a win. And there was nothing stylish about District 9 AA’s semifinal game.
Brookville (9-2) amassed 314 rushing yards and the Raiders’ defense held Moniteau (5-6) to just a single second half first down in a 14-7 victory Saturday night at Clarion University’s Memorial Stadium. The win catapults Brookville to the District 9 AA championship game, where the Raiders will face Brockway (10-0), who is averaging 49.9 points per game this season, Friday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. from Clarion University.
Raiders’ head coach Chris Dworek’s eyes lit up when he saw his team had amassed the 314 yards on 58 carries. And Dworek admitted the heavy dose of Ryan Kerr, Steve Kennedy and Conan Gilhousen on the ground was to hamstring Moniteau’s dynamic playmaker at quarterback, junior Kyle Armagost.
“Their QB is tough,” Dworek said of Armagost. “When he doesn’t have the ball in his hands, he can’t beat you.”
Truthfully, Armagost didn’t really beat Brookville’s defense that much, save for a 31-yard touchdown pass to Ethan Pry that capped a 96-yard scoring drive in the second quarter. Armagost, who entered the game with 1,268 passing yards and 1,156 rush yards, finished just 6-of-22 for 91 yards and ran 16 times for 23 yards.
For the game, Moniteau finished with just 59 yards rushing, five total first downs and 150 yards of offense. Brookville’s defense sacked Armagost four times in the second half and also forced an interception and three turnovers on downs.
“I’m proud (of the defense) almost every week,” Dworek said. “We had a great week of practice and their confidence was very high.”
But while the Raider defense was pinning back its ears and blitzing like the concept was going out of style, the Brookville offense did sputter at critical times. The Raiders had opportunities to add at least 20 points to their game total, but couldn’t cash in their chips.
Brookville’s initial possession ended with a turnover on downs at the Moniteau 5 yard line after Kennedy had the Raiders in prime position following a 51-yard run to the Moniteau 10. Gilhousen lost a fumble (recovered by Moniteau at its own 4 yard line) as the Raiders, up 7-0 at the time, were driving to a potential second touchdown with 3:22 left in the half. That turnover set the stage for Moniteau’s six play, 96-yard scoring drive.
Brookville also failed on two attempted field goals – one missed to the right and the other due to a bad center snap. The Raiders also committed six penalties for 50 yards and committed three turnovers (two fumbles and an interception).
“The penalties – that’s a mental thing – we’ve got to bounce back better after those,” Dworek said.
But there were plenty of positives for Brookville, too, like feature tailback Ryan Kerr, who finished the game with 197 yards rushing on 34 carries and scored both Brookville touchdowns.
Kerr got the Raiders on the board with a 2-yard dive up the middle with 30 seconds left in the first quarter. His 27-yard scoring run with 10:48 left in the game allowed Brookville to break a 7-7 stalemate.
“In the first Moniteau game, we realized he (Kerr) could be the workhorse in our offense,” Dworek said of #5. “He had a little spring in his step pregame.” (Kerr has run for more than 1,400 yards on the season).
Kennedy added 63 yards on 14 carries and also threw for 83 yards. Gilhousen added 29 yards on eight totes for Brookville.
Beyond Armagost, Moniteau was paced by freshman running back Dustin Geegan (9 rush, 36 yards) and receiver Ethan Pry, who had receptions of 41 and 31 yards in the first half and finished with five catches for 84 yards and a touchdown.