Beaver Falls finishes off Sto-Rox, gets back to WPIAL championship game

Saturday, November 19, 2022 | 12:31 AM

With a big first half on defense, an offensive ability to take advantage of short fields and a second half that saw the Tigers run away from third-seeded Sto-Rox, second-seeded Beaver Falls earned a trip to Acrisure Stadium to play for the Class 2A championship on Black Friday.

It’s the third straight title game for the Tigers, who will be looking for the program’s sixth WPIAL championship.

On Friday at Moe Rubenstein Stadium at Ambridge High School, it was defense that was the story for the Tigers (11-1) as they forced six turnovers by Sto-Rox (9-3) en route to a mercy rule, 54-16 victory.

“Tonight was the ultimate team victory for us. We had guys in all three phases make huge plays,” said Beaver Falls coach Nick Nardone. “I don’t think you could single out one or two guys and say they were the reason we won the game. We did it as a team, and it was impressive to watch.”

The first of six turnovers led to the game’s first points when Trey Singleton intercepted Sto-Rox quarterback Josh Jenkins and took it 41 yards to paydirt. Beaver Falls failed on the ensuing two-point conversion.

Sto-Rox answered immediately with a score on its next drive. Jenkins hooked up with Zay Davis for a 37-yard touchdown that, with a two-point pass to Diego Ellis, gave the Vikings their only lead of the night.

In the first few minutes of the second quarter, Demeitris Taylor earned the first of two strip sacks on the night, and Beaver Falls recovered the Jenkins fumble at the 1-yard line, which, after a 1-yard loss, set up Singleton to rush it in from 2 yards out to put the Tigers back in front. Singleton then got the two-point conversion.

Sto-Rox’s next drive ended in the same way: a strip sack by Taylor. It was on a fourth-down play from the Sto-Rox 35-yard line. Brixx Rawl recovered the fumble and returned it to the 11-yard line before he tried to shuffle it along to a teammate. That shuffle was flagged as an illegal forward pass but it didn’t matter, as Singleton scored his third touchdown of the half on the very next play. The two-point play failed, but that gave Beaver Falls a 20-8 lead.

Things got worse for the Vikings on the ensuing kickoff, with a squib kick being fumbled away to Beaver Falls, who used the short field again to extend the lead to 26-8 on a 9-yard touchdown run by Da’Sean Anderson.

Sto-Rox fumbled the ball away with about a minute left in the half and 26-8 was the halftime score.

“When we came into the half, we had more yards, I think. But we had penalties and we had turnovers,” said Sto-Rox coach Marvin Mills. “You can’t win a playoff game with six turnovers.”

The Vikings got a much-needed score on the first drive of the second half. A 43-yard run by Davis set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Jenkins, who’d find Drevon Miller-Ross for two points to cut the lead to 26-16.

But that was all she wrote for Sto-Rox offensively. Jenkins finished his career with a 126-yard night through the air on 8-for-20 passing. He was intercepted twice and had one touchdown.

Beaver Falls added two scores through the air via the arm of senior signal caller Jaren Brickner, who completed touchdown passes of 58 and 21 yards to Anderson and Isaiah Aeschbacher.

Singleton snuck in a 5-yard touchdown run in between those scores before Anderson scored his third touchdown of the night on a 15-yard run in the fourth quarter.

Brickner finished 7 for 7 for 154 yards and two scores.

“We had a great game plan by the defensive staff, and they allowed the offense opportunity to figure stuff out and once we did, we kind of rolled,” said Nardone. “It was Anderson’s and Singleton’s nights. We’re one of those teams that any given night, different kids step up. They did tonight, but the whole team played tremendously.”

The Vikings’ season comes to an end with the team having pitched five shutouts and won nine games after an 0-2 start that saw them lose games by three points to Steel Valley and Avonworth, both finalists in their classifications.

A storied career for the senior class ends with a 40-8 record.

“The seniors had an impressive run, and it’s hard for a senior class to have a coach for so long and have a new coach come in and have to buy into what we’re trying to teach,” said Mills. “I’m more of a disciplinarian, and that’s not what they were used to. It took time for them to buy in, but they did. People don’t realize the adversity some of these kids go through and in the end, we’re trying to put kids in places.”

It’s off to Acrisure Stadium for the Tigers, who will be looking for their first WPIAL title since 2020, a win over Sto-Rox. The Tigers have a sour taste in their mouths from last year’s championship loss to Serra Catholic; the Tigers turned the ball over nine times in that loss.

Steel Valley is a tremendous football team. They have a very good line, very good skill, and we know what they’re capable of,” said Nardone. “It’s going to take another great effort from us in all three phases to beat them.”

The Tigers will meet the unbeaten Ironmen, who bested No. 4 Neshannock on Friday, 32-17, in the Class 2A title game at 2 p.m. Friday on the North Shore.

Watch an archived video stream of this broadcast on Trib HSSN.

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