BG erases 11-point deficit in win
By Michael Boytim
Leading by 11 in the fourth quarter of its District 6 Class 1A championship game against Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic Friday at Mansion Park, Juniata Valley was a play or two away from putting the game away.
But the Marauders never allowed any of those plays to happen.
Bishop Guilfoyle converted two third-and-long plays before Karson Kiesewetter punched in a score from 3 yards out that brought the Marauders within three after a two-point conversion pass. BG followed that by forcing a three-and-out, benefiting from a Hornets punt that went for negative-1 yard, and took the lead when Cooper Rother found the end zone on a 12-yard score with 1:59 left.
Six seconds later, Vincent Ciofarri sealed a 24-21 triumph over Juniata Valley by intercepting a pass on the sideline from Lambert Palmer, and the Marauders won their third consecutive District 6 title.
“I saw him run an out, and I dropped back on it a little bit,” Ciofarri said. “He threw it a little short, and I just went up and grabbed it. I couldn’t believe it.
I have never made a play that big before. It was a surreal feeling. We never thought we were going to lose. We never gave up.”
The big play from Ciofarri came after he had some struggles early in the game, but like his team, he kept his focus.
“Vince is such a great kid, and he’s always smiling and always happy,” Bishop Guilfoyle coach Justin Wheeler said. “Tonight there were a couple things he did, and I was on him pretty hard about some things. I told him he was part of my family now because he was getting yelled at so much. He laughed, and we talked at halftime. I told him to stay focused and keep making plays, and for him to make that play — I feel so good for him. He works so hard, and he’s helped replace (injured star senior) Haiden (Garner) in some places, and he’s really stepped up and made some big plays for us. When he picked that off, everyone felt good for him, because he’s been a great leader for us.”
Plays of the game: With 6:07 to play and Juniata Valley up by three, the Green Hornets tried to punt, but it went straight up into the air and was downed for a loss of 1 yard. The Marauders drove 41 yards in nine plays, including a 15-yard pass from Kiesewetter to Patrick Reilly on fourth-and-9 on a play where a Hornets player tipped the pass, for the game-winning score.
“We were in a position where we could have put the game away,” Juniata Valley coach Bill Musser said. “You put your kids in positions, and I should have let the kid be an athlete and make the punt that he normally makes, but instead, we tried to get cute and fancy as a coaches and it didn’t work out the way we needed it to.”
Player of the game: Kiesewetter carried the ball 23 times for 139 yards and two scores. He also completed 11-of-18 passes for 134 yards and connected with Dominic Yanoshak on a two-point conversion pass.
Unsung hero: Reilly’s concentration on the tipped pass on fourth down kept the Marauders from turning it over on downs with just 4:24 remaining. He also caught a 55-yard pass that set up BG’s first touchdown.
Most vital statistic: After Jayce Rand scored on a 12-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter, Juniata Valley ran just five offensive plays the rest of the game and gained just 5 yards.
Wheeler on winning the title despite losing Garner to injury early in the season: “I have been fortunate to coach some really great teams here at BG and some really incredible athletes. We knew Haiden was going to be one of those guys coming back this year, and when you lose him, like we lost Evan (Chadbourn in 2016), it takes weeks to overcome that. You have everything geared toward that. It’s a testament to these guys. We replaced 10 starters on offense and nine on defense from our championship team from last year. We are not the same team we were at the beginning of the year, and it’s a testament to my assistant coaches, and these guys believing in us, coming to practice focused and really trying to get better each week.”
Musser: “They are a really good, quality team that is well coached. They are going to take advantage of things we do, and that’s certainly what they did tonight. Kiesewetter was the key to that.”
Juniata Valley senior Jake Johnson: “We got a great push that first drive and kept pushing them and ended up scoring. I think we caught them off guard at first, but they did a great job of bouncing right back.”
BG junior Cooper Rother on his reaction to Ciofarri’s interception: “I sprinted to him, I looked him in the face and I said, ‘that’s why we have been working out every day together forever. We worked out every day this summer, and I told him that’s what it was all for. He made a big play in a big situation.”
Notable: Johnson rushed for a pair of touchdowns for Juniata Valley. … Deven Wyandt’s 24-yard field goal in the second quarter turned out to be the difference in the game. … Andrew Ross had an interception for the Green Hornets one play after a holding penalty nullified a Kiesewetter touchdown pass to Reilly with two seconds left in the half.
Records: Bishop Guilfoyle (9-4); Juniata Valley (10-2)
Next week: Juniata Valley’s season is complete. Bishop Guilfoyle will play in the PIAA Class 1A semifinals for the third-straight season against the winner of Saturday’s game between Old Forge and Canton next week.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bishop Guilfoyle 0 10 0 14 — 24
Juniata Valley 7 7 0 7 — 21
JV–Johnson 2 run (Rodkey kick), 7:36.
BG–Wyandt 24 FG, 9:57.
JV–Johnson 11 run (Rodkey kick), 5:28.
BG–Kiesewetter 13 run (Wyandt kick), 5:07.
JV–Rand 12 run (Rodkey kick), 11:54.
BG–Kiesewetter 3 run (Yanoshak pass from Kiesewetter), 8:05.
BG–Rother 12 run (pass failed), 1:59.
TEAM STATISTICS BG JV
First downs 19 15
Total yards 327 265
Rushes-yards 35-193 42-220
Yards passing 134 45
Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 11-18-1 5-9-1
Punts-avg. 3-33.7 2-18.5
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-0
Penalties-yards 4-27 1-5
RUSHING–Bishop Guilfoyle, Kiesewetter 23-139, Rother 9-46, Abraham 1-13, TEAM 2-(-5). Juniata Valley, Rand 16-75, Johnson 15-73, Rodkey 4-61, Palmer 5-6, Allison 1-4, McMonagle 1-1.
PASSING–Bishop Guilfoyle, Kiesewetter 11-18-1-134. Juniata Valley, Palmer 5-9-1-45.
RECEIVING–Bishop Guilfoyle, Rother 4-38, Reilly 3-72, V. Ciofarri 2-12, Abraham 2-12. Juniata Valley, Johnson 2-17, McMonagle 2-16, Rodkey 1-12.