Red Lion can't recover vs. Eagles
MECHANICSBURG -- Red Lion found itself in a most unusual spot early in Friday evening's District 3 Class AAAA first-round game against Cumberland Valley.
Trailing and trailing badly.
The Lions spotted sixth-seeded Cumberland Valley a three-touchdown first-quarter lead and couldn't recover during a 48-21 season-ending defeat at Harry Chapman III Field on the Cumberland Valley High School campus.
"We are used to being able to score," said Red Lion coach Jesse Shay. "(Cumberland Valley has) a great program and a tremendous team. When you can't throw the ball and they know you have to run, they are just going to load up the box. We are not a good enough team to just say, 'Hey, we are going to run it right at you.' We need to be able to throw."
Cumberland Valley (9-2) advances to play No. 3 Exeter Township (11-0) on Nov. 20 at a site to be determined.
Red Lion (7-4) came in riding a four-game winning streak since suffering back-to-back losses to Division I rivals Northeastern and South Western the first two Fridays in October.
The Lions, making their 10th appearance in the district playoffs, twice exceeded 60 points in a game and scored a league-best 344 points this fall while holding opponents to two touchdowns or less in six games. The Lions defense trailed only Northeastern in yards allowed during the regular season.
Cumberland Valley was a different story.
The Eagles rolled up 415 yards rushing and only attempted three first-half passes in pounding the football at Red Lion.
"They ran a very disciplined, very effective offensive scheme," Shay said. "That was Cumberland Valley. They don't do fancy. They are who they are. There is a reason that teams don't want to come to this field. We found out first-hand."
Senior Connor Long had rushing touchdowns of 58 and 9 yards and added a 21-yard interception return for Cumberland Valley. The 5-foot-10, 175-pounder ran for a game-high 109 yards.
Red Lion senior quarterback Dalton Grove, who entered the game with more than1,000 yards passing and a stellar 17-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio, was picked off three times in the game and saw two run back for scores.
"(Cumberland Valley) played great defense, and it was also incredibly tough to throw with this wind," Shay said. "It was uncharacteristic, but we're going to have to live with it."
Senior running back Alex Keough of Red Lion, who ended the regular-season as the YAIAA's seventh-leading rusher with 942 yards and nine TDs, was held out of the end zone and limited to 58 yards.
Cumberland Valley has now won seven of its past eight games since a 41-14 loss to Bishop McDevitt back on Sept. 18. In four of those wins, the Eagles have allowed seven points or less. Included among those wins is a three-point road win against Class AAAA top seed Central Dauphin on Oct. 23.
"Give all the credit to that (Cumberland Valley) program over there," Shay said. "They are who they are for a reason."
The Eagles, who captured back-to-back Class AAAA titles in 2009 and 2010 and have won 12 district championships in 18 championship game appearances, opened the season with back-to-back wins over YAIAA Division I opponents Spring Grove and Central York by a combined 81-6 score.
"We need to see where the next level is," Shay said. "From where we started to where we got to is fantastic, but I, the rest of the coaches and the players can't be satisfied with that. We just have to start figuring out now how to make that next step."
CV — Connor Long 58 run (Long kick), 8:47.
CV — Nicholas Rhodes 11 run (Long kick), 6:14.
CV — Charlie Katshir 33 interception return (Long kick), 4:24.
CV — Joey Heikel 3 run (kick failed), 6:12.
RL — Dalton Grove 2 run (Sam Emig kick), 2:19.
CV — Long 9 run (Long kick), 6:03.
CV — Long 21 interception return (Long kick), 5:55.
CV — Cole Kline 34 run (Long kick), 2:54.
RL — Patrick Daugherty 22 run (Emig kick), 11:14.
RL — Rodney Scott 5 run (Emig kick), 1:57.
Rushing — RL, Alex Keough 12-58, Patrick Daugherty 3-44, Dylan Gurreri 4-36, Sam Emig 2-16, Rodney Scott 2-14, James Jackson 1-(-4), Dalton Grove 7-(-14). CV, Connor Long 7-109, Joey Heikel 15-91, Cole Kline 8-91, Jake Palmer 6-38, Josh Ferguson 7-33, Logan Thorne 6-32, Nicholas Rhodes 5-16, Jarrod Palmer 2-5, Kier Miner 1-0.
Passing — RL, Grove, 7-14-96-3. CV, Ferguson 1-3-4-0.
Receiving — RL, Kendrick Boyd-Gillespie 2-27, Keough 1-25, Brooks Argento 2-22, Ben Frey 1-19, Jackson 1-3. CV, Katshir 1-4.