RIMERSBURG — Running into a buzz-saw on Homecoming, the Union/A-C Valley Falcon Knights’ five-game winning streak came to a big halt thanks to Keystone in a 44-14 loss last Friday night.
The Panthers (6-1) scored on their first four possessions, led 30-0 by the 8:43 mark of the second quarter and got the PIAA Mercy Rule running clock into motion in the fourth quarter as they piled up 415 yards of offense, 352 of it on the ground against the Falcon Knights.
Nearly putting three rushers over 100 yards, the Panthers were led by Nick Weaver’s 155 yards on 21 carries. Taylar Altman finished with 94 yards on 13 carries and quarterback Isaak Jones finished with 92 yards on 13 attempts.
Jones did go over 1,000 yards passing for the season, but only completed 2 of 4 passes for 63 yards and one touchdown. Clearly, the Panthers wanted to dominate the trenches and take advantage of that edge.
“There are no excuses and hat’s off to Keystone,” Falcon Knights head coach Brad Dittman said. “They came in with a game plan to control the line of scrimmage and run the ball … We didn’t have an answer for that and couldn’t stop them.”
The Falcons Knights (5-2), who host winless Cameron County at A-C Valley High School Friday, managed 171 yards of offense and two touchdowns. They stopped Keystone’s 30-0 run with a Tony Thompson 3-yard run with 1:44 left before halftime and after the Panthers went up 44-7 to start the running clock at the 8:39 mark of the fourth quarter, quarterback Luke Bowser hit Tanner Merwin on a 16-yard pass with 2:24 left.
Bowser completed 5 of 17 passes for 51 yards and was intercepted twice by Alex Rapp. Gaven Bowser led the running game, going for 53 yards on eight carries.
Weaver’s 26-yard run started the game’s scoring, finishing off Keystone’s 7-play drive. After forcing a three-and-out Union/ACV possession that was followed by a 16-yard punt, the Panthers scored less than three minutes later on Jones’ 1-yard run. On the second play of the drive, Jones dashed 51 yards on a keeper. Two plays later, it was 14-0.
A second three-and-out Union/ACV possession led into Keystone’s third TD off an 11-play, 63-yard drive with Weaver’s 1-yard run on the third play of the second quarter. A third three-and-out by Union/ACV preceded Keystone’s fourth score on Jones’ 52-yard TD pass to Logan Sell made it 30-0.
The Falcon Knights finally got something going late in the first half, converting two third downs and one fourth down to set up Thompson’s TD run with 1:44 left before halftime.
Keystone did reach the Union/ACV 12 as time expired in the half as Jones was sacked by Eli Penny.
Rapp’s interceptions of Luke Bowser on two straight drives led to both of the Panthers’ second-half TDs, the first coming on Weaver’s 9-yard run with 3:09 left in the third quarter and the second on Altman’s 2-yard run with 8:39 left in the fourth quarter.
The Falcon Knights took advantage of a short field following a short kickoff following the Panthers’ last TD and went 49 yards to score on Merwin’s 16-yard pass from Bowser.
Keystone won its sixth straight game since its season-opening 29-8 loss at Redbank Valley, which leads the Small School-South with a 3-0 record. Both Keystone and Union/ACV are 2-1, so if Union/ACV beats Redbank Valley next week in New Bethlehem, it would wind up a three-way unbreakable tie for the title. A Bulldogs win, obviously, gives them the division crown.