CLYMER - Moshannon Valley was stopped one game short of the District 6 Class A high school football championship game.
The results of the Black Knights' semifinal clash at Penns Manor on Saturday night, though, probably will still be felt when the district title is on the line later this week.
The sixth-seeded Knights bowed out of the tournament, eventually succumbing to the second-seeded Comets' dynamic running attack, 26-6, at Pat Corrigan Field. Mo Valley concluded the season 8-4.
What will likely have most in attendance talking, though, was the flag-and-ejection-fest that emerged in the second half. Both teams finished with double-digit penalties - including several personal fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct calls on each squad - for more than 150 yards apiece. Combined, the teams had 319 yards on 32 flags; that didn't include several penalties that were declined and one case of offsetting holding.
Officials tossed five players from the game in the fourth quarter, including Mo Valley's Derek Southern, Dylan Ludwig, J.J. Bacher and Logan Cook.
Afterward, Mo Valley coach Murray Fetzer said he felt his team lost its composure.
"I'm not going to make any excuses. I'm just not. This team is an emotional team. They play on emotion,'' Fetzer said. "That's a double-edged sword, because, the last four games, they've played on emotion, and that's carried them. Tonight, it got the best of them.
"You've got to channel that the most positive way you can. You cannot let it be affected by the officials or the play on the field.''
Penns Manor was assessed 158 yards on 15 penalties, but the big loss came when Comets starting linebacker Chris Henderson was thrown out during a scrum that occurred on an extra-point with 2:44 left.
Because of that, Henderson is ineligible to play when Penns Manor makes its first-ever visit to the district finals on Saturday against Bellwood-Antis at Mansion Park.
There were several stoppages in a fourth quarter that took about 50 minutes to complete. Comet coach Bill Packer said he'd wished the officials had just stopped the game or at least run the clock down.
"We were telling the officials it was getting chippy the whole time,'' Packer said. "It was getting bad out there. We had to throw the JVs in. Something was happening on every play.''
Even when cooler heads were prevailing, the game was hotly contested. Mo Valley tied it on Southern's 67-yard bolt down the sideline less than 2 minutes into the second half, and Penns Manor was clinging to a six-point advantage before Danny Ferens and Joey Vodopivec reached the end zone on rushes in the last 8 minutes.
The key for the Knights was to contain Ferens, and, while the Comets' fleet-footed junior quarterback did pile up 225 yards on 30 carries, Mo Valley was fairly successful in not giving up big plays.
"Going into halftime down six, we knew we were getting the ball, and we had an opportunity to score and make it a game, and we did. But Ferens cut up the middle, made a couple of guys miss and went into the end zone [from 37 yards out]. They answered the call,'' Fetzer said. "We had to answer, but, unfortunately, things didn't go our way.''
Mo Valley's next drive stalled out after getting to the Penns Manor 20 following an unsportsmanlike conduct foul, after which the Comets drove the length of the field. Ferens scored his third touchdown to make it 20-6.
The Knights ball-possession running game was unable to get untracked against the Comets attacking defense. Mo Valley finished with 203 yards of total offense and just 100 on the ground.
"We knew they were more of a power team than a speed team. We figured if we could take away their inside game, we could use our speed to take care of the outside,'' Vodopivec said.
The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Knights and ended their deepest trip into the playoffs since they won the 6-A championship and made the PIAA final four in 1996.
"I'm extremely proud of our kids. They fought tooth and nail after being 4-3 and being on the brink of not making the playoffs,'' Fetzer said. "They went out and played each and every with heart, soul and determination.''
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Moshannon Valley0 0 6 0 - 6
Penns Manor0 6 6 14 - 26
PM-Ferens 2 run (pass failed), 10:47.
MV-Southern 67 run (kick failed),10:28.
PM-Ferens 37 run (run failed), 8:01.
PM-Ferens 2 run (Ferens run),7:45.
PM-Vodopivec 70 run (run failed), 2:44.
RUSHING: Moshannon Valley-Southern 11-76, J. Ludwig 3-28, D. Ludwig 9-8, J. Martin 6-(-2), Stewart 1-(-3), Cook 1-(-6), TEAM 1-(-1). Penns Manor-Ferens 30-225, Vodopivec 7-87, Paulina 4-10, Clevenger 2-7.
PASSING: Moshannon Valley-J. Martin 13-24-0-103. Penns Manor-Ferens 0-2-1-0.
RECEIVING: Moshannon Valley-Cook 8-68, Stodart 3-18, Stewart 1-14, Southern 1-3. Penns Manor-none.
INTERCEPTIONS: Moshannon Valley-Cook. Penns Manor-none.