FOXBURG — On Homecoming Night for two schools on the same field, it was the Caden Rainey show and it was a solid finish to the regular-season for the District 9 Class A playoff-bound Union/A-C Valley Falcon Knights in a 40-7 win over Brockway.
Rainey scored three touchdowns from three different angles — receiving, punt return and interception return — while intercepting three passes and catching seven passes for 80 yards. And he also scored on a two-point conversion pass for good measure to finish the night’s scoring.
That’s 5-1 now for the Falcon Knights, who head to next weekend’s semifinals against presumably defending champion Coudersport, which lost 14-0 to Smethport Friday night. That put Smethport in the other semifinal against Redbank Valley, the only team that’s beaten Union/ACV.
“We wanted to clean some stuff up,” said Falcon Knights head coach Brad Dittman, whose team beat Brockway 37-7 in the season-opener. “We wanted to finish with a win. We got one blemish on the record. We wanted to finish strong and keep continuing to improve and I think we did that in some areas tonight. We still have some things we got to continue to work on.”
The Falcon Knights bottled up the Rovers (2-4) to just 63 yards in 46 offensive plays from scrimmage. And those numbers count the Rovers’ nine-play, 67-yard drive that gave them a 7-6 lead late in the first quarter. After that scoring drive, the Rovers managed minus-four yards in 37 plays and three first downs, none in the second half.
“We just needed to settle in after that first drive and we did that so I’m just proud of these guys,” Dittman said.
The Rainey show began with his first interception early in the second quarter. That led to quarterback Tanner Merwin’s 26-yard pass to Rainey six plays later to put the Falcon Knights up for good at 14-7 at the 7:26 mark.
The Rovers punted for the first of seven times on their next possession and Rainey blasted the return 69 yards for his second in as many weeks.
“Caden, the past couple weeks, I can’t believe people punt to him but they do and we love it,” Dittman said. “His first interception, it really changed the momentum in the game. We weren’t doing some things we usually do and big plays like that helped us settle in and get focused. They are game-changers.”
Rainey’s second interception went to the end zone as he returned the pickoff 25 yards to make it 26-7 with 58 seconds left in the third.
Kylar Culbertston, who caught a 13-yard TD pass from Merwin to cap an 11-play, 65-yard drive to start the game, scored his second TD on a 10-yard run to hike the score to 32-7 with 9:09 left in the game.
Rainey’s third interception and 33-yard return set up the Falcon Knights’ final score on Gaven Bowser’s 17-yard run with 3:55 remaining.
Merwin was efficient passing, completing 12 of 15 for 112 yards with his two TD. Bowser ran for 53 yards on five carries with Eli Penny gaining 52 on seven attempts.
Brockway quarterback Conner Ford completed 6 of 12 passes for 67 yards and ran for 21 yards on 15 attempts, but several poor snaps along with the Falcon Knights aggressive defense kept the Rovers’ off-balance offensively all night. Of their 46 plays, 28 plays were incomplete passes, interceptions or lost yardage.
The scoring drive was highlighted by Ford’s 45-yard pass to Tanner Morelli and then a fourth-and-seven 10-yard pass for a touchdown to Austin Schmader at the 2:04 mark of the first quarter.
Brockway added DuBois to the schedule and will host the Beavers next Friday.