PUNXSUTAWNEY — Putting a resounding end to a rough two-game losing streak, the Redbank Valley Bulldogs wrapped up their regular-second schedule with a 54-14 rout at Punxsutawney Friday night.
The Bulldogs (8-2) get a week off now before a District 9 Class A semifinal rematch with Union/A-C Valley, which beat them last week 28-7.
“We desperately needed to get back into the win column and it feels good to have been able to do that,” Bulldogs head coach Blane Gold said Tuesday. “The last three weeks found us enduring a rash of injuries to key players while also failing to live up to the standards of our program. The kids did a great job regrouping and some young guys carried out the ‘next man up’ mentality very well in the win.”
The Bulldogs’ 7-0 start to the season ended with a thud in a 56-0 loss at Coudersport. But they’ll start the slate clean in the playoffs.
“Some people don’t understand how truly difficult it is to go undefeated throughout a season. Sure, it’s been done before. Many times. But no matter who you play, it’s rarely easy,” Gold said. “All teams at every level with deal with adversity and through our first seven weeks we were able to avoid a lot of the adversity that comes along with playing the game of football. That was not the case for the past three weeks.
“I’m proud of the way our guys weathered the storm and came together to finish the year 8-2 in a style that we were accustomed to early in the year.”
While pairings will be officially released this weekend, the Bulldogs landed the No. 2 seed with Union/ACV wrapping up its schedule at 7-3.
It’ll be a neutral field matchup Nov. 8 or 9 while top-seeded Coudersport plays next week’s winner of the No. 5 Smethport at No. 4 Elk County Catholic preliminary round game.
“Not much will change for us from a schedule standpoint,” Gold said of this week’s preparation without a game Friday. “We will treat this week the same as we do as a game week and will do the same next week. Due to the efforts of the guys in our room, they earned themselves two weeks to prepare for their next one and we want to be sure to take full advantage of that time.”
Against the Chucks, the Bulldogs piled up 438 yards of offense, limiting the 0-10 Chucks to 152 yards, 74 of that coming on the Chucks’ final TD drive in the fourth quarter.
Bulldogs quarterback Cam Wagner completed 14 of 25 passes for 191 yards and three TDs, two of them to Sam Hetrick who caught five balls for 118 yards. Ray Shreckengost led the Bulldogs’ 247-yard running game with 107 yards on 12 carries with three TD runs of 42, 6 and 9 yards.
Hudson Martz ran for 82 yards on eight carries and had a 6-yard TD run. Justin Ferringer’s 6-yard run completed the Bulldogs’ scoring for the night.
“It was good to see us getting back to the physical brand of football that carried us through the first seven weeks on both sides of the ball,” Gold said. “Offensively, we also had the chance to see what Cam was capable of doing with being given a bit more responsibility in running our offense. We were pleased with his efforts and are hoping that he can continue to get better and help us finish the year on a strong and positive note.”
Defensively, Coltin Bartley led the unit with 12 tackles along with two fumble recoveries and one caused while Justin Ferringer was second with eight stops.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 26-0 lead and built a 40-8 advantage by halftime.
They scored on six of their first seven possessions of the game, starting with Javin Brentzel’s 5-yard flip pass from Wagner in the first quarter.
Shreckengost’s 42-yard run and Martz’s 6-yard put the Bulldogs up 20-0 after the first quarter. Wagner’s TD passes of 9 and 51 yards to Hetrick made it 26-0 before Peyton Hetrick’s 47-yard TD pass to Max London got the Chucks on the board.
Schreckengost’s 6-yarder completed the first-half scoring. The Bulldogs tried an Anthony Baileys 25-yard field goal, but misfired as time ran out on the half.
Shreckengost’s 9-yarder put the Bulldogs up 47-8 and started the PIAA’s Mercy Rule running clock midway through the third quarter before Ferringer’s 6-yard run one play after Punxsutawney’s botch punt play made it 54-8 on the last play of the third quarter.
Of Punxsutawney’s 12 possessions, seven of them ended in a three-and-out with a punt. The Chucks botched two punt attempts, had another punt go for minus-4 yards due to a bad snap and turned the ball over twice.
The Chucks now own District 9’s longest losing streak at 16 games.