HOUTZDALE - Now that his older brother, Dylan, has graduated, converted guard Jake Ludwig hasn't only taken over his old position at running back, he's taken his old number, 5.
"I just wanted to keep the tradition going," Jake Ludwig said. "Growing up with him made me tougher. It made me want to compete better. When things get hard, you want to keep going."
The younger Ludwig did his brother proud on Friday night against Tussey Mountain. He refused to be taken down in the backfield near midfield in turning a fourth down into a 44-yard run to set up a second-quarter touchdown, then caught a TD pass in the waning seconds of the first half as Moshannon Valley opened Inter-County Conference Silver Division high school football play with a 25-12 win.
The Black Knights, who were coming off a 35-14 thumping at Bellwood-Antis, rebounded to move to 2-1 overall. Tussey slipped to 1-2, dropping its second straight.
Mo Valley was clinging to a one-point lead halfway through the second quarter when first-year Knight coach Michael Keith decided to go for it on fourth-and-2 at the Tussey 48. It initially appeared to be the wrong move, as Ludwig was stacked up a yard or so behind the line of scrimmage.
Somehow, though, the 6-foot, 200-pound senior powered out of it and then rambled all the way down to the Titan 4. Mo Valley quarterback Tanner Dipko pushed into the end zone from the 1 two plays later.
"I thought I was stuck," Ludwig said. "I had to do something."
Ludwig finished with a team-high 63 yards on the ground and also caught a Knight-best five passes for 42 yards. He took one reception from Dipko in for a 7-yard score with 14 seconds left in the half after the Knights stopped Tussey on fourth-and-1 at the MV 44 with just over a minute to go in the second quarter.
"He's a leader. The kids go as he goes, more of less," Keith said of Ludwig. "He's a big kid, and, if you don't wrap up, he's going to go through you, and he did. They didn't wrap up, and he made a play."
It was that kind of game for the Titans. Led by Mitchell Corbin's 114 yards on the ground and 83 more from Darrin Sipes, Tussey rushed for 232 yards and actually finished with more yards and first downs than the Knights. However, most of that yardage came on a 46-yard scamper by Sipes and two big Corbin runs that covered 73 yards.
Tussey's only score, when the game still was in doubt, came on a 20-yard fumble return by Garrett Wilson early in the second quarter. The Titans had a really tough time on special teams, sending a snap over the punter's head for a 26-yard loss to set up the first score of the game for Mo Valley, then fumbling the second half kickoff away to the Knights after muffing a couple of punt returns earlier.
"That's what it comes down to. The little things make a big difference," Titan coach Josh Smith said.
The Knights capitalized on the great field position to open the third quarter when Dipko, a first-year starter, hit James Stodart in stride for a 26-yard touchdown pass on the first play after the fumble.
"You absolutely can't get a better throw," Keith said.
"We got crushed last week, so we had to come back and win this one," Ludwig said. "We came together and played as a team."
Game notes: The Knights lost starting center Tim Rowley in the first half to a leg injury. Keith declined to comment, but it appeared serious, as Rowley was carried off the field and didn't return. ... Neither team had a first down until Ludwig broke off a 26-yard run with 2:08 left in the first quarter. ... Mo Valley is back home next Friday to host Mount Union. Tussey entertains Southern Huntingdon the same night.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Tussey Mountain0 6 0 6 - 12
Moshannon Valley7 12 6 0 - 25
MV-Campbell 3 run (Stodart kick), 8:02.
TM-Wilson 20 fumble return (kick failed), 9:56.
MV-Dipko 1 run (pass failed), 7:00.
MV-Ludwig 7 pass from Dipko (run failed, 0:14.0)
MV-Stodart 26 pass from Dipko (pass failed), 11:46.
TM-Taylor 4 run (run failed), 1:04.
RUSHING: Tussey Mountain-T. Husick 14-41, Corbin 13-114 Sipes 12-83, Taylor 5-26, K. Kline 1-2, E. Husick 1-(-8), TEAM 1-(-26). Moshannon Valley-Campbell 14-39, Ludwig 7-63, Love 2-(-2), Dipko 9-(-3).
PASSING: Tussey Mountain-E. Husick 2-8-0-10, K. Kline 0-1-0-0. Moshannon Valley-Dipko 10-20-0-114.
RECEIVING: Tussey Mountain-T. Husick 1-9, Sipes 1-1. Moshannon Valley-Stewart 2-38, Ludwig 5-42, Stodart 3-44.