While the snow that coated much of Pennsylvania late last week wreaked all sorts of havoc and caused all sorts of weather-related postponements, the Tri-Valley League still had its entries in the PIAA Class 1A football playoffs sliced in half. Only District 3 Class 1A victor Halifax (11-1), which shrugged off a 16-day respite and edged District 4 champ Muncy by a 19-18 count on Sunday night in Danville, remains upright. It was the first state victory for Halifax. As a result, Earl Mosley’s Wildcats will take on the Lackawanna Trail contingent (12-1) that belted Tri-Valley 41-6. A 7 p.m. kick is scheduled for Saturday night at Northern Lehigh High School in Slatington.
2. Late Billow score propels Wildcats
After falling behind for the first time when Muncy cashed in with 8:05 to play, a resolute Halifax side cranked out a seven-play drive capped by Evan Billow’s 4-yard touchdown run with 4:31 to play that popped the Wildcats in front 19-18. And that’s where Earl Mosley’s club, thanks to a couple of later defensive stops, remained. Billow had an earlier 4-yard touchdown run with 3:17 gone in the opening quarter that popped the TVL champs in front — Tai Lehman’s successful extra point proved to be extremely important — while Broc Grosser scored on a 39-yard TD pass from QB London Johnson just before the break that gave the ‘Cats a 13-6 advantage. Tyler Berzowski was the offensive workhorse, rushing 16 times for 89 yards, while Johnson finished 11-of-14 passing for 98 yards — with Grosser (3-46), Billow (3-31) and Dalton Marshall (3-16) each catching three balls. Despite its tenuous 19-18 lead, Halifax forced a Muncy punt to complete one defensive stand and then made a stop near midfield as the clock expired. Grosser, who has a preferred walk-on spot waiting for him at West Virginia, suffered a tailbone injury during the game yet never left the field. In fact, his 29-yard kickoff return following Muncy’s go-ahead score ignited Halifax’s game-winning drive.
3. Trail roughs up Bulldogs
Bugged by three turnovers and unable to slow down a ground game that churned out 444 rushing yards, Tri-Valley (9-4) watched its first journey to the PIAA Class 1A playoffs end quickly with a 41-6 loss to District 2 champion Lackawanna Trail at Scranton Memorial Stadium. Jeff Resto rushed for 156 yards and three scores on just 12 carries — scores covered 1, 22 and 1 yards — Cody Moyle added 117 yards and two TDs (4 and 42 yards) on merely seven attempts, and Ray Melnikoff chimed in with 105 yards on 10 totes as the Lions (12-1) averaged more than 10 yards per pop against Jeff Sampson’s Bulldogs. Trail led 28-0 at the break against the District 11 champions, which had come into the contest on a six-game winning streak. Daulton Leedy interrupted Trail’s run with a 1-yard TD run midway through the third quarter, but that was it for the Bulldogs. Leedy did complete 12 of his 28 pass attempts for 136 yards — Tyler McGrath caught six throws — but he was intercepted twice. Since the quartet of Melnikoff (1,056), Moyle (768), Resto (699) and QB Nathan Rolka (518) has rushed for nearly 3,000 yards and 43 touchdowns, Halifax will undoubtedly crowd the line of scrimmage — especially since the Lions attempted just two passes against Tri-Valley.