DAVIDSVILLE – Conemaugh Township is peaking at exactly the right time heading into next weekend’s opening round of the District 5 Class A playoffs as the surging Indians won their third straight game Friday night thanks to a swarming defense and balanced offense that overwhelmed visiting Meyersdale 40-0.
“I’m so proud of how our kids have progressed this season,” said Conemaugh Township coach Tony Penna Jr., whose 3-2 third-seeded squad will travel to Northern Bedford next Friday night for a playoff matchup.
The Indians’ defense set the tone for the contest early, as Conemaugh Township forced three first-quarter Red Raider turnovers, all of which were converted into points en route to a 27-0 lead after the first 12 minutes. Meyersdale turned the ball over six times on the night, as the Indians’ Jackson Byer came up with three of Conemaugh Township’s five total interceptions, including a pick-six.
“We have some great athletes back there in the secondary,” Penna said. “But our defensive coaches do a great job coming up with the right schemes, and our kids are able to go out there and make plays.”
“Coach Penna has Township playing very well,” said Meyersdale coach Ryan Donaldson, whose team lost its fourth straight to fall to 1-5. “You can’t make as many mistakes as we did and expect to be successful.”
Conemaugh Township outgained the Red Raiders 307-108 in total offense, with quarterback Tanner Shirley and running back Seth Rosey both making major contributions. Shirley completed 9 of 16 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for another score.
Rosey ran for a game-high 128 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries.
“When we can get this kind of balance, it really puts a lot of pressure on their defense because they can’t focus on taking just one thing away,” Penna said.
That versatility was evident on the Indians’ opening drive of the game, which covered 58 yards in 10 plays. Shirley completed a pair of passes for 22 yards, and he finished the series with a 5-yard keeper to put his team on the board. A.J. Smolen then added the first of his four extra points to make it 7-0 at the 7:28 mark.
The Red Raiders’ ensuing possession was a harbinger of things to come, as it ended in a turnover. Conemaugh Township’s Dilan Miske returned a fumble 25 yards to the Meyersdale 30, and three plays later Shirley fired a 12-yard touchdown strike to Byer.
Byer again found the end zone just over two minutes later, as he picked off Meyersdale’s Briar Sheets and returned it 55 yards down the left sideline for a score that made it 21-0 with 2:03 left in the first.
A second interception by Byer on the following possession put the Indians in great field position at the Red Raider 27, and it took just one play for Shirley to connect with Tyler Poznanski on a touchdown pass, as the quarter came to a close with Conemaugh Township firmly in control.
Rosey rumbled for a 56-yard scoring run with just under four minutes left in the half that gave the Indians an eventual 33-0 halftime advantage, and once again in the third quarter, Conemaugh Township capitalized on Byer’s third pick of the game.
The Indians took over at the Meyersdale 42 following the interception, and an 11-yard run by Brady Kist was followed three plays later by Rosey’s second touchdown run of the night, a 15-yarder that triggered the mercy-rule running clock and set the eventual final.
As the Indians open the playoffs next week, Meyersdale will continue the regular season by hosting Shade.