JV wins in final moments
HOLLIDAYSBURG — Down by six with less than three minutes to play, Juniata Valley ran three fourth-down plays from inside Claysburg-Kimmel’s 10-yard line.
Though the momentum swung back and forth, leaving each fan base cheering wildly one second and feeling devastated the next, there was no doubt the Green Hornets were going to at least tie the game.
Just ask senior quarterback Quinn Zinobile.
“We knew we were going to score no matter what was going to happen,” Zinobile said. “Either me or Jaxson (Rand) knew we were going to pound that ball in and be powerhouses, and that’s what we did.”
Zinobile’s 2-yard touchdown on the first fourth-down play was wiped out by an illegal formation. The second time, the Bulldogs appeared to have a game-clinching stop on fourth down before a facemask penalty wiped that out.
The final time, Zinobile bulldozed everyone and found the end zone from 4 yards out.
“Quinn came into the huddle, and he’s a warrior,” Juniata Valley tight end Grant Musser said. “He’d been battling the whole game, and he told our linemen to push up front and for all us other guys to block our hearts out. He told us he’d get us this win, and that’s what he did.”
Garrett Funk’s extra point, that just cleared the crossbar, gave the Green Hornets a 21-20 victory Saturday at Tiger Stadium and the chance to host Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic in the District 6 Class 1A semifinals next weekend.
“It’s the best feeling ever,” Grant Musser said. “When I saw that ball go through the uprights to give us a one-point lead, I could have kissed Funk at that point.”
Zinobile’s touchdown was his third of the night, but the first two both came in the first half as Juniata Valley built a 14-0 lead.
The Green Hornets fumbled three times in the first half but managed to recover each one. That was not the case in the second half.
In all, Juniata Valley fumbled eight times and lost three. Two of those led to Claysburg-Kimmel touchdowns, and a Zinobile interception on the last play of the third quarter allowed the Bulldogs to eventually take the lead.
Just two plays after R.J. Helsel’s pick, Kobe Harr found the end zone from 10 yards out to make it 20-14. Wyatt Buell’s extra point was good, but a penalty wiped that out as well. When he was forced to kick it again, he missed wide left.
“All season long, we’ve been a team of slow starters even though we preach coming out hot,” Claysburg-Kimmel coach Matt Bilchak said. “For whatever reason, the turnover bug bit us early (Claysburg lost two first-half fumbles), but our kids battled back and I loved that.”
The Bulldogs did get the ball back and manage a first down before Musser picked off C-K quarterback Corey Chamberlain with 1:34 to play to seal the game.
“I didn’t realize it was Grant at first,” Juniata Valley coach and Grant’s father, Bill Musser said. “There was of course a feeling of pride that it was a kid making a play when we needed a play, but I’ll be honest, as a dad knowing what that young man has fought through and worked through this year, I’m really proud of him.”
Grant Musser said his instincts took over on the play as he undercut a short pass.
“It was shocking,” Grant Musser said. “I came down with it, and I had no clue what to do. I was surprised I even had the ball.”
The victory gives the Green Hornets a third straight shot at Bishop Guilfoyle in the playoffs. The Marauders beat Juniata Valley 58-0 in 2016 and 59-13 last season.
For Claysburg-Kimmel, the season ended short of where Bilchak had hoped, but the Bulldogs won a playoff game for the second consecutive year and will have plenty of talented underclassmen returning next year.
In the moments when it appeared C-K had made the fourth-down stop to possibly win the game, a very large contingent of Bulldog fans were loudly supporting their team.
“It means a lot to me,” Bilchak said. “I’m proud I can continue what was built before me and represent the community well.”
Claysburg-Kimmel got two touchdown runs from junior Zach Claycomb, one of those from 49 yards out, but will likely be haunted by the fourth-down penalty and the penalty on the Buell’s extra point.
“We’ve been bitten by that bug before,” Bilchak said. “It’s something we’re going to be better at in the future.”
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Claysburg-Kimmel 0 0 14 6 — 20
Juniata Valley 14 0 0 7 — 21
JV–Zinobile 1 run (Funk kick), 3:33.
JV–Zinobile 4 run (Funk kick), 3:06.
CK–Claycomb 49 run (Buell kick), 8:05.
CK–Claycomb 15 run (Buell kick), 0:19.
CK–Harr 10 run (kick failed), 11:40.
JV–Zinobile 4 run (Funk kick), 2:39.
TEAM STATISTICS CK JV
First downs 12 18
Total yards 254 342
Rushes-yards 34-201 50-195
Passing (com.-att.-int) 5-17-3 7-10-1
Punts-avg. 2-39.5 2-30
Fumbles-lost 3-2 8-3
Penalties-yards 5-33 7-56
RUSHING–Claysburg-Kimmel, Claycomb 8-65, Harr 10-63, Helsel 4-62, Musselman 6-14, Brown 2-9, Chamberlain 3-(-5), TEAM 1-(-7). Juniata Valley, Zinobile 26-94, Rand 19-86, Betres 3-9, Derugen 1-7, TEAM 1-(-1).
PASSING–Claysburg-Kimmel, Chamberlain 5-17-3-53. Juniata Valley, Zinobile 7-10-1-147, Rand 0-1-1-0.
RECEIVING–Claysburg-Kimmel, Harr 2-10, Claycomb 1-19, Brown 1-16, Helsel 1-8. Juniata Valley, Musser 3-61, Betres 2-34, Derugen 1-33, Rand 1-19.