Quaker Valley, the WPIAL champion, won the battle up front and Quakers QB Ricky Guss was the best player on the field on a snowy Saturday afternoon.
Middletown made way too many mistakes and couldn’t take advantage of the precious few miscues Quaker Valley made and fell 41-24 to the Quakers at Hersheypark Stadium.
"We worked hard to get to this point, so you don't want to go home with a loss so it's tough,” said Middletown head coach Brett Myers. “Still to be 28-2 the last two season, win two league title and two district titles is an accomplishment."
This game went sideways for the Blue Raiders, who seemed off balance the entire first half, late in the second quarter.
Tied 7-7 with less than five minutes to play in the first half, Quaker Valley rolled up three quick touchdowns in 3:43 to seal the Blue Raiders fate in this one.
The lethal blow for Middletown (14-1) was a pick-six by Raiders Scott Ash on a play that was blown up in a hurry.
Ash, who struggled throwing the ball all game, had zero chance to execute the screen that was called. The pressure on him was immediate and intense. As Ash was being tossed to the ground, he tried to get the throw off and it popped in the air.
Andrew Seymour grabbed the ball and easily cruised 40 yards to the end zone for a 28-7 cushion with 1:04 to play.
Middletown never posed a threat to the Quakers the rest of the afternoon, and just to make sure the Blue Raiders didn’t have any life Quaker Valley open the second half with a touchdown drive capped by RB Jordan Taylor’s 35-yard scamper that increased the Quakers' lead to 35-7.
“They were a really good team, the complete package,” said Blue Raiders senior Tre Leach, who had a 55-yard punt return for a score that made it 7-7 in the second quarter. “We just lost our fundamentals in that stretch. It was hard to key on one thing with them.
“Our coaches did a good job getting us ready, we just didn’t play fundamental football.”
Running the ball was not easy for Middletown, particularly on the edges where the Blue Raiders make a living, all afternoon. Yes the Blue Raiders finished with 190 yards on the ground, but 70 of that came on a late mop-up time touchdown run by Lamar Ventura.
The other 43 carries yielded only 120 yards.
“Their defense was quicker than any defense we’ve played and they were solid up front and came hard off the edges,” said Middletown running back Brady Fox, who finished with 76 yards on 18 carries. “Our plays were just stalling. They were solid. As a running back it’s hard to adjust with all those guys around you. They were good.”
Guss came into game with more than 2,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards. And in the final game of his career on the biggest stage, the 6-2, 195-pound signal caller who doubles as an inside linebacker, did not disappoint.
No. 13 for the Quakers accounted for 214 total yards and three touchdowns. Guss rushed for 110 yards and three scores and threw for another 104 with a pair of TD passes.
“We didn’t quit,” Leach said. “It just wasn’t our day. But we did our best.”