Bulldogs win the game of inches

By John Hartsock

jhartsock@altoonamirror.com

ALEXANDRIA — It’s often been said that baseball is a game of inches. The same can be said, on many occasions, about football.

Friday night was one of those occasions, and a matter of inches — or at the very most, a few feet — made all the difference as Claysburg-Kimmel held off Juniata Valley, 29-25 in a riveting Inter-County Conference matchup at A.R. Simkins Memorial Field.

With Valley trailing and time winding down, junior quarterback Quinn Zinobile did an outstanding job of scrambling to evade intense pressure, rolled out, and found senior wideout Nate Richner with a pass in the corner of the end zone. Only 25 seconds remained on the clock, and Valley had apparently pulled off a stunning victory.

The pass, however, was nullified when officials ruled that Zinobile had stepped over the line of scrimmage before throwing it. Two incomplete passes later, Claysburg had held on for a win that pushed the Bulldogs’ to 4-3 overall and 3-3 in the conference.

“These kids are so resilient,” Claysburg coach Dan Foor said of his team, which overcame an early 19-7 first-quarter deficit to go ahead for good, 29-25, on sophomore fullback Seth Musselman’s 3-yard touchdown burst with 3:35 remaining. “These kids never quit.”

Even so, the Bulldogs dodged what would have been a heartbreaking loss when the illegal-forward pass call enabled them to retain their lead.

“If he was over (the line), I’ll accept it,” Valley coach Bill Musser said of Zinobile’s effort. “He was working hard, hustling, and he made a great throw on the play. I’m extremely proud of my players. They worked very hard and played a full game.”

But so did Claysburg, which trailed, 25-22, entering the fourth quarter before driving 74 yards on 6 plays for a game-winning score.

The 5-foot-10, 200-pound Musselman — who gained all 96 of his rushing yards on nine carries to give Claysburg a boost in the second half — picked up 38 yards on 3 rushing plays before blasting 3-yards for the decisive score.

Senior quarterback Ty Hagen also hit sophomore wideout Zach Claycomb with two passes totaling 33 yards on the drive.

“This is such a great feeling for everybody,” Musselman said. “We’re all so excited. This is going to help our season tremendously.”

Valley was playing without the services of star senior running back-defensive back Seth Derugen, who was suspended for one game after being called for a targeting violation while playing defense last week against Northern Bedford.

But with Zinobile, Richner, junior fullback Jaxson Rand, and junior Z-back Cameron Collins picking up the slack, the Green Hornets (4-3 overall and 3-3 in the conference) got off to a quick start Friday.

Zinobile threw scoring passes of 10 yards to Richner and 37 to Collins and also ran 9 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter as Valley built its 19-7 advantage.

Claysburg, which got 147 rushing yards on 14 carries and a 1-yard touchdown run from sophomore back Kobe Harr, narrowed its deficit to 19-14 at halftime on Claycomb’s 1-yard TD run. It came after the Bulldogs had forced a Valley fumble with the Green Hornets inside the Claysburg 10.

“That was the defensive series of the game,” Foor said. “They were ahead 19-7, and driving, and we stopped them, and then turned around and scored ourselves. That was huge.”

Hagen’s 1-yard scoring run with 8:44 left in the third quarter put Claysburg temporarily ahead, 22-19, but Valley parlayed Collins’ interception and runback into a go-ahead touchdown of its own just over 5 minutes later, when Rand bolted into the end zone off left tackle to put Valley back in front, 25-22. Then came the frantic finish.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Claysburg-Kimmel 7 7 8 7 — 29

Juniata Valley 19 0 6 0 — 25

First quarter

JV–Richner 10 pass from Zinobile (Hill kick), 10:22.

CK–Harr 1 run (Deremer kick), 6:43.

JV–Collins 37 pass from Zinobile (kick failed), 3:17.

JV–Zinobile 9 run (pass failed), 0:26.

Second quarter

CK–Claycomb 1 run (Deremer kick), 4:50.

Third quarter

CK–Hagen 1 run (Harr run), 8:44.

JV–Rand 1 run (kick failed), 3:08.

Fourth quarter

CK–Musselman 3 run (Deremer kick), 3:35.

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: Claysburg-Kimmel–Harr 14-147, Musselman 9-96, Claycomb 8-22, Helsel 4-(-8). Juniata Valley–Zinobile 13-80, Rand 20-76, Hess 3-4, Collins 1-2, Richner 1-(-4), Team 1-(-16).

PASSING: Claysburg-Kimmel–Hagen 14-20-2-149. Juniata Valley–Zinobile 12-21-0-172.

RECEIVING: Claysburg-Kimmel–Claycomb 5-93, Hunt 4-24, Harr 3-12, Burket 1-12, Helsel 1-8. Juniata Valley–Richner 6-81, Collins 5-89, Rand 1-2.

INTERCEPTIONS: Juniata Valley–Coilins 2.

TEAM STATISTICS CK JV

First downs 18 12

Rushes-yards 35-257 39-142

Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 14-20-2 12-21-0

Yards passing 149 172

Total yards 406 314

Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-1

Penalties-yards 6-70 6-64

Punts-avg. 3-20 3-32.7

COMMENTS