Onside kick ignites Knights’ 2nd-half surge
HOUTZDALE – Sometimes all it takes to swing momentum is a little bit of luck. Moshannon Valley (5-3) got just that to open the second half Friday night against Williamsburg.
The score was knotted at 21 when the Black Knights’ Nick Krupa recovered an onside kick to begin the second half. It looked like a genius play call by coach Michael Keith, as Moshannon Valley scored on the ensuing drive and never looked back en route to a 48-21 victory. However, the play was never supposed to happen.
“Well, it wasn’t meant to be an onside kick, it was just meant to be a squib kick. We wanted to keep it away from their return men, Young and Shaw, so we tried to squib it and he (Terril Stiles) missed it a bit, but we’ll take it,” Keith said.
There was no luck involved with the performance of Knights quarterback Eric Sherkel. The electrifying junior was all over the field and finished the game with six touchdowns, five on the ground and one by kick return.
“It’s pretty amazing for me to score that many times in a game. I have to give all the credit to the guys in front blocking, they were opening the holes for me all night,” Sherkel said.
The Black Knights closed strong, but it was Williamsburg (4-4) that opened the game hot. The Blue Pirates put together a 12-play scoring drive on their first possession, which included two fourth-down conversions. Tyler Shaw connected on three completions to Bryce Young for 61 yards on the drive, including a 14-yard touchdown strike to put Williamsburg up early.
“I liked the way we came out in the first half. We were able to make some big plays in the passing game,” Williamsburg coach Bob Hearn said.
Sherkel answered immediately, returning the following kickoff 85 yards for his first score of the night. He added a 6-yard score early in the second to put the Black Knights up 13-6 before Williamsburg answered.
Shaw posted his own kickoff return, going 85 yards for a score and then added another touchdown on a 1-yard run 5 minutes later and Williamsburg took a 21-13 lead.
Moshannon Valley responded with its biggest drive of the game. The Black Knights marched 73 yards on 11 plays, capped off by a Sherkel 6-yard touchdown run with 1 minute left in the half. Sherkel then ran in the two-point conversion and the score was tied.
“The onside kick was big, but to me that drive before the end of the half is what really turned the tide for them,” Hearn said.
The second half belonged entirely to Sherkel and the Knights defense.
The defensive front led by Cody Hamilton, Kameron Swoope and Craig Ohs lived in the backfield as the Blue Pirates were held scoreless and turned the ball over twice with two fumbles.
“We weren’t aggressive in the first half and we turned it up and got all our pressure in the second half. We just told those guys to go out and play football and play hard and that’s what they did, they came out on fire in the second half,” Keith said.
The Black Knights have won four straight games as they continue to push toward the playoffs.
“It’s huge (the win streak) because the kids goal is to make the playoffs and we are pushing towards that right now with every win,” Keith said.
As for Sherkel, he has an idea of what he wants to see for an encore of his big game.
“I’m just going to keep working hard and next week try to get seven (touchdowns),” Sherkel said.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Williamsburg6 15 0 0 – 21
Moshannon Valley7 14 21 6 – 48
W-Young 14 pass from Shaw (kick failed), 5:02
MV-Sherkel 85 kickoff return (Stiles kick), 4:49
MV-Sherkel 6 run (kick blocked), 10:22
W-Shaw 85 kickoff return (Carper pass from Shaw), 10:10
W-Shaw 1 run (Shaw kick), 5:10
MV-Sherkel 6 run (Sherkel run), 1:02
MV-Sherkel 6 run (Stiles kick), 10:44
MV-Sherkel 11 run (Stiles kick), 8:21
MV-Sherkel 32 run (Stiles kick), 1:27
MV-R. Thomas 50 run (pass failed), 9:24
RUSHING: Williamsburg-Shaw 14-(-2), Biddle 10-29, Lower 6-21, Carper 4-6, McMonagle 2-14. Moshannon Valley-Sherkel 22-165, R. Thomas 12-121, Stiles 3-12, Frailey 3-8, Neff 2-5, D. Thomas 1-3, Hamilton 1-0.
PASSING: Williamsburg-Shaw 9-19-1-167. Moshannon Valley-Sherkel 4-6-0-45.
RECEIVING: Williamsburg-Young 6-138, Biddle 2-11, McMonagle 1-18. Moshannon Valley-Murawski 2-5, Neff 1-30, Ohs 1-10.
INTERCEPTIONS: Williamsburg-None. Moshannon Valley-Sherkel.