Another mercy rule win punches Central Valley’s ticket to Hershey

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Friday, November 20, 2020 | 11:09 PM


ALTOONA – It takes a special kind of dedication and discipline to have a successful season during a pandemic, and at least some on the Central Valley football team think that’s given the Warriors the little extra edge they needed as they attempted to make it back to the PIAA Class 3A championship.

“When we got the news that we were going to have a season, we just knew we had to do everything right,” junior running back Landon Alexander said. “We had to wear our masks, do everything right from a team standpoint, so we can get to this point.”

The Warriors haven’t missed much of a beat yet, and they administered another beating in the state semifinals on Friday night at Mansion Park Stadium, building a 36-point lead by midway through the third quarter en route to a 49-20 win over District 5 champion Bedford.

Alexander ran for 159 yards on 17 carries, scoring on runs of 9, 2 and 25 yards, while Ameer Dudley completed 9-of-12 passes for 188 yards and scored on a 3-yard bootleg in the first quarter. Myles Walker broke off an 82-yard touchdown run in the opening quarter as well.

It was the 11th time this season Central Valley has won a game via the running clock. The undefeated Warriors will take a perfect record to Hersheypark Stadium next Friday, where they’ll try to avenge last year’s setback against either Wyomissing of District 3 or Danville of District 4.

“Back in May, I don’t think anyone thought we’d be playing football with the pandemic,” Warriors coach Mark Lyons said. “We hold each other accountable. We expect to play a certain way, conduct ourselves a certain way. That’s how you win football games. You’ve got to be self-disciplined in everything you do.”

Bedford entered the game 10-0 too, but the Bisons couldn’t keep up with the Warriors, even with Mercury Swaim’s 237-yard passing performance.

“I don’t think it was necessarily their speed that got us as much as it was a combination of speed and power up front,” Bedford coach Kevin Steele said. “We really didn’t have any answers for them.”

Central Valley scored touchdowns on five of its six first-half possessions, outgaining Bedford 338-96 in taking a 35-6 lead. In addition to Walker’s 82-yard dash at 5:32 of the first quarter, Alexander reached the end zone on runs of 9 and 2 yards.

Alexander ran for 95 yards on 11 first-half carries, while Dudley completed 7-of-9 passes for 152 yards. Dudley came up big on the Warriors’ 10-play, 62-yard opening drive by converting third downs on tosses of 28 yards to Jayvin Thompson and 20 yards to Justin Thompson.

“This is a step,” Dudley said. “This is definitely something we’ve been working toward ever since we got the go-ahead to just play. This is something we’ve been looking forward to ever since we lost (to Wyoming Area in last year’s state finals).”

Central Valley made Bedford turn the ball over on downs to start the second half, then covered 68 yards on five plays to bring the running clock into effect on Alexander’s 25-yard scoring scamper at the 5:46 mark of the third quarter.

The Bisons scored twice before the period ended, but Jayvin Thompson’s second short touchdown run of the game set the final.

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