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BLOOMSBURG, Pa. – For all that the Bloomsburg Panthers did to shut down Danville running back Anthony Sori for the first three and a half quarters, it would have been easy for #28 to get frustrated and not keep his head in the game.

 

The Panthers’ speedster running back, who entered the game with more than 700 rushing yards, had been held to just 13 yards on nine carries, mostly on sweep plays.

 

But in the fourth quarter, Sori came up big for the Ironmen, and he helped bring the purple and orange another big W.

 

Sori caught two touchdown passes from Andrew Andreychik, including the game-winning 26-yard scoring reception with 56 seconds left to propel Danville (9-0) past Bloomsburg (7-2) for a thrilling 34-30, come-from-behind victory Friday night at Bloomsburg High School.

 

The two touchdown catches were Sori’s only receptions of the game, but boy, were they big.

 

“It was frustrating when they were stuffing the ground game,” Sori admitted.

 

Bloom’s defense did plenty of stuffing the potent Ironmen ground attack, which entered the game averaging more than 270 yards on the ground. This night, the red and black held Danville to just 115 yards on 36 rushing attempts, and battering ram of a fullback Russell Heath had a team-best 76 yards on 17 carries, most of that in the first half.

 

And the Panthers had Danville down by 10 points on three separate occasions in the second half – 16-6, 23-13, and 30-20. But the leads weren’t safe.

 

“These kids just don’t ever give up,” said Danville head coach Jim Keiser. “(This win) is huge for this program and for this town. They’ve waited 11 years for this.”

 

Early on, though, Bloomsburg was stealing the show, through, of all things, the legs and mobility of junior field general Blake Rankin.

 

Bloom led 9-6 at halftime, thanks in large part to the play of #5, who is getting looks from Rutgers. By halftime, Rankin had run for 49 yards and thrown for 47 more. He scored Bloom’s first touchdown on a 1-yard sneak with 39 ticks left in the first quarter. He also helped pin Danville deep in its own territory on its initial possession with a beautiful punt downed inside the five yard line. Danville went three-and-out, and the snap of the punt sailed out of the back of the end zone to give Bloom a 2-0 lead with 8:04 left in the first stanza.

 

Danville found its rhythm following Rankin’s touchdown run. The Ironmen began a slow, methodical march down the field, matriculating the ball Hank Stram-esque with a steady diet of Heath, mixed with the occasional Sori sweep or Andreychik keeper. All told, the 15-play, 78-yard, 6:58 drive was capped on a 4th-and-3 pass from Andreychik to Mikeal Owens-Wright from four yards out.

 

The second half became all about the aerial assaults.

 

Rankin (17-of-36, 222 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT) suddenly got his connection with sophomore wide receiver John Klingerman going, and it paid big dividends for the Panthers. Klingerman hauled in scoring passes of 32, 34 and 9 yards in the second half, and caught six passes for 138 yards on the night.

 

“He’s an outstanding player,” Bloomsburg head coach Larry Sones said of Klingerman. “His speed, his change of direction….” – Sones tailed off, practically left speechless of #2′s playmaking ability.

 

Each Bloomsburg score brought an answer from the Ironmen. Andreychik scored on a 5-yard run to make it 16-13; hit Garrett Llewellyn on a 54-yard scoring pass to make it a 23-20 game.

 

“That (pass to Llewellyn) was a 5-yard hitch,” Andreychik said. And with Llewellyn’s speed, the short and simple pass turned into a bigtime play.

 

After Bloom made it 30-20, Andreychik and Sori hooked up twice. The winning touchdown was set up by Danville blocking a Bloomsburg punt and recovering at the Panther 25 yard line. Two plays later, Sori scored the winning touchdown, sending the Ironmen faithful into delirium.

 

Bloomsburg still had a chance to win it, as Rankin (26 rush, 142 yards) broke off runs of 23 and 12 yards to advance to the Ironmen 27 yard line with less than 30 seconds left. But Rankin was sacked to end the game, and Bloom was left to wonder what might have been.

 

Sori might have summed things up most succinctly after the win.

 

“Good teams don’t come back and win games,” #28 said. “Great teams do.”

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On November 5, 2004 the Garnet Valley Jaguars didn’t score a point against Great Valley. Who would have thought the next time Garnet Valley would be shutout would be six years later.

 

            Garnet Valley has won the past two meetings against the Ridley Green Raiders. The first meeting in 2008 Garnet Valley went on to win big, 41-28. In the second meeting the win went to Garnet Valley with a 20-14 win. The third meeting consisted of a different story. This meeting Ridley controlled the game from start to finish. Ridley’s coach, Dennis Decker said, “The fact that they have beat us the last two years has left a sour taste in our mouths but we weren’t preparing any more or any less because we have lost the last two. We just wanted to come out and get a win tonight.”

 

            The Ridley Raiders walked onto Moe DeFrank Stadium on Friday night looking to stay undefeated; and they did just that. Although it took the Green Raiders nine and a half minutes to score after running back Jalen Randolph’s five yard touchdown run, that was just the beginning of a long night for the Jaguars.

 

            The Green Raiders lightning bolt and heart of the team is senior running back Shahaid Smith. Rushing for a total of 195 yards, Smith scored the Green Raiders second touchdown of the game on a quick two yard touchdown run after getting the offense down the field. Not only can Smith run a short touchdown to the end zone, he can run the long ones too.

 

            As halftime was nearing, the Garnet Valley Jaguars began to move the ball down field. Smith, who not only had a great offensive game but also played a part on defense, intercepted Jaguars quarterback Jake Helmes’ pass to end their drive and to go into halftime with an almost three touchdown lead, 19-0. Smith said, “I knew the time was running out, I knew they were just going to try to catch the ball and get out of bounds so I just stepped up and made the interception.”

 

            Garnet Valley knew coming into the second half they needed to stop Ridley’s offense being down 19-0. Well just 52 seconds in the second half Smith dashed into the end zone from 37 yards out. “The line’s blocking was excellent. It was a great call by the coach. After that it was a shake and miss of the defenders to get into the end zone” said Smith.

 

            Ridley wasn’t done scoring. The offense decided they have put the ball enough on the ground and decided to go to the air. After the Green Raiders defense recovered a fumble at their own 39 yard line by defensive back, Dion Shaw, Ridley’s first play on offense was a pass. Green Raider’s senior quarterback Sean Blundin threw a 61 yard touchdown pass. On the receiving end was senior wide receiver Norm Donkin. That big touchdown pass took the air right out of the stadium.

 

            To put the game to rest, the Green Raider’s lightning bolt, Smith, ran in his third touchdown of the game on a 15 yard touchdown carry to make the score, and the final 38 to 0. The last time a defense shut down Garnet Valley’s offense was six years ago. Garnet Valley hasn’t seen a goose egg on the score board in a high school player’s career and a half.

 

            “This was the best defensive game we’ve played all year long. To hold a team like that, as good as they are, as well coached as they are to zero points, I think says something about our defense” said coach Decker as he commented on the Green Raiders defense which had two fumble recoveries and two interceptions.

 

            Next week if Ridley wins they will at least share the Central League title with a win against Upper Darby at home at 7:00pm. If Springfield can beat Strath Haven, Ridley won’t have to share anything and bring the whole title back to Ridley.

 

            There are 16 teams that make the Quad A playoff tournament. For the Garnet Valley Jaguars to be one of them 16 teams they need to beat Lower Merion. The game will be at Lower Merion on Saturday afternoon at 2:30pm. It is a must win for the Jaguars to continue to play further football in 2010.

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