Apollo-Ridge dodges Valley upset bid, clinches playoff spot

Friday, October 4, 2019 | 11:23 PM

It was a night of highs and lows for Apollo-Ridge’s Logan Harmon during Friday’s Allegheny Conference game at Valley.

Harmon fumbled three times, and two of them led to Valley touchdowns.

But the Apollo-Ridge coaches never lost faith in their 210-pound battering ram, and he returned the favor in a big way.

Harmon carried the ball 30 times for 344 yards and four touchdowns as Apollo-Ridge outlasted Valley in the battle of the Vikings, 35-28.

“The start of the game was rough, two turnovers right off the bat for me,” Harmon said. “That was rough on our whole team. But I just kept telling coach, ‘I got it coach, I got it coach.’ He fed me the ball, and we were able to get it done tonight.”

Apollo-Ridge improved to 6-1 overall and 4-1 in conference play, and the win clinched a spot in the WPIAL playoffs for the 15th time in program history and for the first time since 2016.

“It’s a big conference win for us,” Harmon said. “Next week, we have another conference game, and if we win that, we would host a playoff game, and that would be pretty cool for Apollo-Ridge.”

Valley played a second straight close game at home. It fell to Freedom, 14-10, last week. It now is 1-6 overall and 0-4 in the conference.

“We felt we were in the game the whole game. We just came up short,” Valley coach Muzzy Colosimo said. “The guys played hard, and I couldn’t be more proud of them. We’re getting better and better every week, and we’ll see what happens the rest of the way.”

Apollo-Ridge returned to game action after an unexpected bye week when Shady Side Academy forfeited last Friday’s conference matchup because of a lack of healthy players.

Coach John Skiba said his team overcame a few miscues and made plays when it needed them.

“We needed to get back in a flow after the Avonworth loss (42-14 on Sept. 20) and not playing last week,” he said. “We have a big one next week at Steel Valley. We understand where we need to be and where we want to be. We’d really like to be home to start the playoffs.”

Harmon’s final touchdown, a 57-yarder with 7:25 left in the fourth, turned out to be the game winner.

“Those two stiff-arms on that run were absolutely ridiculous,” Skiba said. “I hadn’t seen him run like that in a while. He’s not the fastest runner, but he can pull away from kids.”

The score was a quick answer to Valley’s Justin Hooper, who had run 58 yards for a touchdown to tie the game 28-28 just 26 seconds earlier.

Hooper finished with 106 yards on 23 carries.

Valley had a final shot at tying the game after forcing a turnover on downs with three minutes left. It had a first-and-10 at the Apollo-Ridge 31 with under two minutes on the clock but lost a yard in four plays.

Quinn fumbled while coming out from under center on fourth down, and his knee touched the turf as he went to pick up the ball.

Apollo-Ridge took over and burned off the remaining time.

Valley got on the board first early in the second quarter as it turned Harmon’s second fumble into a touchdown. Cayden Quinn found Vaun Ross in back left corner of the end zone from 14 yards out. Michael Odrey added the first of his four point-after kicks, and Valley led 7-0.

Apollo-Ridge responded and took the lead in the quarter as Harmon scored from 13 yards and then from 2 yards. Jacob Mull also was on target, as he was true on all five of his PAT kicks.

Valley tied the game 14-14 at the 4:24 mark of the third as Quinn connected with Ricardo Simmons on a 62-yard catch and run.

Harmon and Apollo-Ridge quarterback Jake Fello followed with scoring runs of 15 and 1 yards, respectively, sandwiched around a 70-yard fumble return by Valley cornerback Zaire Warren.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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