Q rating for Valley is huge
By Philip Cmor
NORTHERN CAMBRIA — One could say that of the three squads on the field at Duffy Daugherty Stadium on Saturday, it was the ones in the striped shirts that came out on top.
Juniata Valley, though, was no worse than second, and that’s all that mattered.
In a game marked by 27 penalties, it was the improvisational ability and versatility of Valley’s Quinn Zinobile that really should have been illegal. Zinobile ran for 118 yards and a touchdown, caught two passes for 62 yards, passed for 56 yards and returned a punt 20 yards to set up Jaxson Rand’s game-winning touchdown as the fifth-seeded Green Hornets overcame the cold and the fourth-seeded Northern Cambria Colts to punch their ticket into the District 6 Class 1A semifinals with a 19-14 victory.
“We came in here after having a good week of practice. I couldn’t ask for a better group of men to have on the football team with me,” Zinobile said after the Hornets scored two touchdowns in the final 9:27 to emerge with the run and hike their record to 8-3. “It’s a blessing.”
Zinobile’s effort was complementing perfectly by that of Rand, who completed all three of his pass attempts in the second half for 68 yards — two of those going to Zinobile and the other finding Gabriel Brower for a 6-yard score that got Valley within 14-13 — while rushing for 46 of his 62 yards in the final two quarters.
Rand bowled over from the 1 with 6:17 left for what proved to be the deciding score against a Colt defense that had already stopped the Hornets a couple of times in the red zone earlier in the game.
“We knew they had a big line. We knew the run game was going to not be there. But I can throw the ball — I was a quarterback when I was younger. They keyed on me running, and I had guys open,” Rand said. “The people that doubted us in the newspaper, we proved them all wrong, and that means so much to the community.”
Northern Cambria finished the year 7-4. Down 7-0 early after Zinobile’s 39-yard scramble set up his own 4-yard touchdown run, the Colts took the lead, first powering behind their line to get on the board on Scott Yingling’s 10-yard rush on an option pitch and then Yingling’s 60-yard scoring return with a Valley fumble at the 3:20 mark of the third quarter.
Yingling rushed for 118 yards on 18 carries.
“I really thought that (fumble return) was going to be a turning point and just the dagger in their heart, just time for us to start rolling. But, obviously, they prevailed,” Yingling said. “It stings. I don’t know how else to say it.”
The Hornet who made it sting the most was Zinobile. He accounted for 142 yards of total offense in the second half. He had several big runs just breaking contain against the Colt pass rush and turning potential disaster into positive yardage.
Valley coach Bill Musser even moved him to running back late in the game as the Hornets controlled the clock and ran precious minutes away from the run-oriented Colts.
“Quinn is an amazing player. He’s an all-around athlete,” Rand said. “He has long strides, he’s fast, and he can catch the ball.”
Zinobile spread the credit around.
“We’re all pretty athletic, from our wide receivers to our linemen. Our linemen might not be the biggest guys, but they have the biggest hearts,” Zinobile said.
Zinobile said the Hornets didn’t let the fumble return and losing the lead crush them emotionally. Musser said his team showed great poise, something he knew it had.
“These men have just fought and fought and fought all year long. They just have that mentality, and they took it upon themselves from that point to step up and not let it get us down,” Musser said.
The Hornets also overcame being stopped on downs at the NC 1 and having a field goal blocked in the second quarter.
The teams combined for 240 yards in penalties, both reaching triple digits; Valley even was flagged for three penalties on one play. Northern Cambria was hit the hardest of the squads, though, getting assessed 140 yards on 15 fouls, including nine that covered 10 yards or more.
“Maybe we didn’t prepare enough. Maybe we didn’t go at it as hard as we should have,” lamented Colts coach Sam Shutty, who wondering if his team lost its edge after the bye week. “(Penalties) have been a dagger in our side all season.”
Valley, though, will continue to feel the effects moving forward. Two linemen, Alan Thompson and Elliot Showalter, were ejected, meaning they won’t be able to play next Friday when the Hornets face three-time defending PIAA champion Bishop Guilfoyle at Hollidaysburg’s Tiger Stadium.
“That’ll be big, but our young men have fought all year long,” Musser said. “It’s next man up.”
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Juniata Valley 7 0 0 12 — 19
Northern Cambria 0 6 8 0 — 14
JV–Zinobile 4 run (Hill kick), 5:47.
NC–Yingling 10 run (kick failed), 8:07.
NC–Yingling 60 fumble return (Marino run), 3:20.
JV–Brower 6 pass from Rand (pass failed), 9:27.
JV–Rand 1 run (pass failed), 6:17.
RUSHING: Juniata Valley–Zinobile 24-118, Rand 19-62, N. Richner 1-4, Derugen 1-4, Rupert 1-(-1), TEAM 1-(-1). Northern Cambria–Yingling 18-118, Vasil 11-54, H. Dumm 4-4, Marino 4-4, TEAM 2-(-16).
PASSING: Juniata Valley–Zinobile 3-7-1-56, Rand 3-3-0-68. Northern Cambria–Marino 1-5-0-11.
RECEIVING: Juniata Valley–Zinobile 2-62, N. Richner 1-42, Derugen 1-11, Brower 1-6, Musser 1-3. Northern Cambria–Vasile 1-5, Yingling 0-6.
INTERCEPTIONS: Juniata Valley–none. Northern Cambria–Jackson.
TEAM STATISTICS JV NC
First downs 17 9
Rushes-yards 46-186 39-164
Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 6-10-1 1-5-0
Yards passing 124 11
Total yards 310 175
Fumbles-lost 4-2 4-1
Penalties-yards 12-100 15-140
Punts-avg. 0-0.0 3-25.7