Unbeaten Ligonier Valley ends Highlanders’ season

LIGONIER — Ligonier Valley High School senior Jackson Daugherty is a do-it-all type of football player who contributes to the Rams’ offense in almost every conceivable way.

Daugherty is a wideout by trade, but also takes some snaps at the quarterback position. Along with being an outstanding receiver, he also throws and runs the ball with an equal degree of skill.

“He’s an all-state football player — one of the best in the state of Pennsylvania,” Ligonier Valley coach Roger Beitel said of the 6-foot-3, 180-pound Daugherty. “He can run, catch and throw. He’s a human highlight film on offense.” Daugherty certainly was all of that and more on a frosty Friday night at Ligonier Valley’s Weller Field, scoring four touchdowns and accounting for 273 all-purpose yards as the unbeaten Rams racked up a 39-14 District 6 Class 2A semifinal playoff victory over Cambria Heights.

While making six receptions for 136 yards on the night, Daugherty caught three touchdown passes of 5, 26 and 56 yards from junior quarterback John Caldwell. Daugherty also rushed seven times for 65 yards, including a 1-yard fourth-quarter TD run, and completed three of four passes for 72 yards and another touchdown.

Ligonier Valley improved to 12-0 and will now try to defend the District 6 Class 2A title that it won last year. The Rams will meet the winner of today’s Westmont Hilltop-Bishop McCort semifinal in the championship game next Saturday at Mansion Park.

“With everything in life, repeating is extremely difficult, but for our kids to get back in that position this year is a tremendous accomplishment,” Beitel said. “It’s a particular credit to our seniors, who have worked their tails off all season long.”

Friday’s loss ended a banner year for Cambria Heights, which finished 8-4 and joined the 1998 team as just the second team in school history to win a District 6 playoff game.

“We’re real proud of our guys,” said Heights coach Jarrod Lewis, whose team opened the playoffs with a victory over Southern Huntingdon last week. “To win eight games and become the second team at our school to win a playoff game was special.

“We just came up a little bit short tonight, but that (Ligonier Valley) is a good football team over there,” Lewis said.

The game turned on a sequence of events late in the second quarter and early in the third.

Ligonier Valley bolted to an early 19-0 lead on Caldwell’s 5-yard look-in touchdown pass to Daugherty in the first quarter, Daugherty’s 56-yard TD catch of a Caldwell pass early in the second period, and Daugherty’s 57-yard scoring pass to junior wideout Aaron Tutino later in the second quarter.

Heights caught a break late in the second quarter that resulted in the Highlanders’ first touchdown of the game.

After Ligonier intercepted a Brandon Bearer pass near the LV goal line, the Rams promptly fumbled off the same play and the Highlanders recovered at the 1.

Two plays later, Heights fullback Cody Stockley scored from the 1 to draw Heights to within 19-7 with just 39 seconds remaining in the first half.

But Ligonier responded with a touchdown of its own as the first half closed to go up 25-7 at the break. Caldwell hit Daugherty with a 26-yard scoring pass in the back of the end zone just before time ran out.

Early In the third quarter, junior defensive back Sully Schueltz returned an intercepted pass 40 yards for a Ligonier Valley score that put the Rams ahead, 32-7.

“The score right before the half, and Sully Schueltz’s pick,were the two biggest plays in the game,” Beitel said. “Sully getting that pick-six just blew the game open.”

From that point on, Ligonier Valley was in cruise control. The teams traded touchdowns in the fourth quarter, with Daugherty’s 1-yard scoring run accounting for Ligonier Valley’s score, and Heights sophomore running back Tyler Trybus running 2 yards for the Highlanders’ second touchdown of the night.

Trybus rushed for 82 yards on 17 carries in the game for Heights.

“It’s hard now, but I’m very proud of how this team represented our school this year,” Lewis said.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Cambria Heights 0 7 0 7 — 14

Ligonier Valley 6 20 6 7 — 39

SCORING SEQUENCE

FIRST QUARTER

LV–Daugherty 5 pass from Caldwell (pass failed), 6:09.

SECOND QUARTER

LV–Daugherty 56 pass from Caldwell (run failed), 11:49.

LV–Tutano 57 pass from Daugherty (Stoll kick), 8:49.

CH–Stockley 1 run (Bobak kick), :39.

LV–Daugherty 26 pass from Caldwell (Stoll kick), 0:00.

THIRD QUARTER

LV–Schueltz 40 interception return (kick failed), 10:54.

FOURTH QUARTER

LV–Daugherty 1 run (Stoll kick), 9:05.

CH–Trybus 2 run (Bobak kick), 3:00.

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: Cambria Heights: Trybus 17-82, Hite 8-23, Stockley 7-20, Fox 3-3, Bearer 1-(-10). Ligonier Valley: Daugherty 7-65, Tutino 4-45, Sheeder 8-41, Miller 2-6, Kelley 1-5, Caldwell 1-(-4), Dubics 1-(-3).

PASSING: Cambria Heights: Bearer 4-18-3-67. Ligonier Valley: Caldwell 9-19-0-159, Daugherty 3-4-0-72.

RECEIVING: Cambria Heights: Maul 2-38, Williams 2-2. Ligonier Valley: Daugherty 6-136, Tutino 5-95, Sheeder 1-0.

INTERCEPTIONS: Cambria Heights: None. Ligonier Valley: Daugherty, Schueltz, Sheeder.

TEAM STATISTICS

CH LV

First downs 13 17

Carries-rushing yardage 36-118 24-169

Passes comp./att./int. 4-18-3 12-23-0

Passing yardage 67 231

Net yardage 185 400

Fumbles/lost 1-0 4-2

Penalties/yardage 3-14 4-40

Punts/avg. 5-26 3-26

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