HOUTZDALE - Moshannon Valley's Kent Stewart has the ability to make life tough for the opposition.
Whether he was lining up at his split end position or at defensive end, Stewart made a big impact in Friday's 21-0 win against Claysburg-Kimmel at the Moshannon Valley Athletic Complex.
Stewart hauled in a 54-yard touchdown pass and forced a fumble, which teammate James Stodart returned 39 yards for a touchdown, by blindsiding Bulldog quarterback Trey Claar, whom he sacked on multiple occasions.
"We played excellent defensively," Mo Valley head coach Michael Keith said. "We couldn't have asked for a better effort from them. I'm very happy with our defense.
"It was an all-around defensive effort - they didn't have much rushing, and our secondary stepped up because they were asked to play man coverage. It was great to see us bounce back."
Stewart's big plays and a suffocating defense allowed the Knights to bounce back from a 49-point loss and sent Claysburg-Kimmel to its fifth straight defeat.
The Bulldogs marched 69 yards on 19 plays on their first series of the game and recovered a Mo Valley fumble deep in Knight territory, but neither resulted in any points for Joey Kitt's squad.
Aside from the early success on the ground from Zach Helsel, who gained 43 of his 56 yards on the drive, Claysburg-Kimmel didn't have an answer for an attacking Knight front seven.
"We had opportunities down there at the goal line on several opportunities," said Kitt, whose team averaged 2.6 yards per play after the first series. "We had penalties, we turned the ball over mixed with some terrible blocking. Those things were a disaster for us, and that's a credit to their defense. They stood up when they had to."
Mo Valley's Eric Sherkel broke up consecutive plays with goal-to-go, and Justin Kitko intercepted a Claar pass in the end zone to thwart Claysburg-Kimmel's best opportunities.
Another strong defensive effort forced a Bulldog punt, and Knight quarterback Tanner Dipko hit Stewart in stride on the ensuing series.
Stewart's double move allowed him to streak past the Claysburg-Kimmel secondary and give Mo Valley (4-2) the only points it would need to get the win.
"That was big," Keith said of Stewart's reception. "Until late in the game, that was our only offensive score. He's a good kid and he plays his butt off every down - and that goes for a lot of these kids. Where we're not blessed with speed, we're blessed with heart, and they played their hearts out."
Neither team's offense was able to generate much in the second half, so Stewart took matters into his own hands midway through the third quarter.
Claar rolled out to his left and never saw Stewart coming. Stewart hit Claar as he was bringing the ball up, forcing a fumble that Stodart raced to paydirt.
"We couldn't pick their ends up," Kitt said. "It really wasn't a good game at all played by us. [The fumble return] was huge for them. It was a big momentum swing in the game for them to go up another score on us. It was a big play on their part. It changed the momentum of the game."
Score By Quarters
Claysburg-Kimmel0 0 0 0 - 0
Moshannon Valley0 7 7 7 - 21
MV-Stewart 54 pass from Dipko, (Stodart kick), 5:04.
MV-Stodart 39 fumble return, (Stodart kick), 6:55.
MV-Ludwig 20 run, (Stodart kick), :48.4.
Rushing: Claysburg-Kimmel-Helsel 24-56, Claar 12-(-18), Weyandt 2-7, Pant 1-4, Cowher 1-2, Brown 1-(-5). Moshannon Valley-Ludwig 14-75, Sherkel 4-25, Campbell 3-19, Bailey 3-15, Kitko 1-(-2), Dipko 6-(-24).
Passing: Claysburg-Kimmel-Claar 8-24-3-127; Helsel 2-4-25 yds.; Team 0-2. Moshannon Valley-Dipko 8-19-1-123; Sherkel 0-2.
Receiving: Claysburg-Kimmel-Weyandt 4-87, Mountain 3-38, Helsel 1-16, Brown 1-7, Claar 1-4. Moshannon Valley-Stewart 4-82, Stodart 2-37, Kitko 1-5, Ludwig 1-(-1).
Interceptions: Claysburg-Kimmel-Repko. Moshannon?Valley- Kitko, Sherkel, Ludwig.
Total First Downs149