JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – Saturday afternoon’s contest between Conemaugh Valley and visiting West Shamokin was a battle between teams with contrasting styles of play.
The rainy, chilly and breezy weather conditions at Thomas Yewcic Stadium proved to be much more favorable to the Blue Jays’ ground-oriented offense than the Wolves’ wide-open passing game, as Conemaugh Valley generated an overwhelming 501 rushing yards and saw two players surpass 200 yards in a 62-12 victory.
Logan Kent ran for a game-high 229 yards on 21 carries, while teammate Nick Heltzel picked up 205 yards on only seven carries, with each player scoring four touchdowns.
“We got things clicking, and we wore them down,” said Conemaugh Valley coach Matt Kent, whose team won its third straight game. “That’s what our offense is designed to do.”
The Wolves (4-4) kept things tight early, as a 10-yard touchdown pass from Bo Swartz to Lou Swartz tied it at 12 at the 10:35 mark of the second quarter. However, it was all Conemaugh Valley after that as the Blue Jays put up 50 unanswered points.
“Things unraveled pretty quickly,” West Shamokin coach Jon McCullough said. “It wasn’t our best day.
“They were a lot more physical up front, and we didn’t play very well on defense.”
Bo Swartz came into the game averaging over 200 yards passing per game with a 59% completion rate, but the Blue Jays held him to 11 of 23 for 112 yards on the day while also capitalizing on four West Shamokin fumbles.
“We had a great defensive game plan,” said Kent. “We knew they would make some plays and score some points, but we had the bend, but don’t break mentality. We put some blitz packages in to help keep them honest.”
The Blue Jays took advantage of a failed onside kick attempt by the Wolves to start the game.
Great field position at the West Shamokin 49 led to a 32-yard completion from Noah Heltzel to Nick Heltzel that set up Kent’s first touchdown, a 5-yard run that opened the scoring.
West Shamokin responded with an eight-play, 65-yard touchdown drive keyed by a 25-yard run by Swartz that was followed two plays later by his 10-yard keeper that tied the game at the 8:15 mark.
The Blue Jays needed just three plays to regain the lead as Kent’s 24-yard dash put his team up by six, with that advantage holding up until early in the second quarter before the Wolves tied it.
After the Wolves made it a new game, it took just one play for Conemaugh Valley to go ahead for good. Nick Heltzel took it to the house from 70 yards out, and Noah Heltzel connected with Kent for the conversion to make it 20-12 with 10:11 left in the half.
“We came into this game knowing what we wanted to do, and the running game was it,” Logan Kent said. “We played as a team and put it all together today.”
Following a fumble recovery by Conemaugh Valley’s Bruce Moore at the Blue Jay 39, a 24-yard gain by Kent and a 37-yard touchdown run by Nick Heltzel put Conemaugh Valley up 14.
“Our line blocked their tails off and we just ran through the holes,” Nick Heltzel said. “We left it all out on the field for senior day, and it feels great to come out with a win.”
The Wolves threatened to cut into that advantage as a 65-yard return of the ensuing kickoff by Christian Sharp gave West Shamokin a first-and-goal at the 10. However, Swartz misfired on four straight passes to give the ball back to Conemaugh Valley.
A 40-yard burst by fullback Zack Bell on fourth-and-1 highlighted a 90-yard drive that was capped off by Nick Heltzel’s 15-yard scoring run that gave the Blue Jays a commanding 34-12 halftime lead.
Conemaugh Valley continued to pull away in the third quarter. Noah Hendershot’s fumble recovery on the initial series of the third led to Bell’s 19-yard touchdown run. Heltzel took it in from 47 yards out at the 6:45 mark, and Kent later added scoring runs of 25 and 36 yards to set the eventual final.