Burrell tops Valley on fourth-quarter field goal in rivalry thriller

Friday, September 9, 2022 | 10:45 PM

Burrell coach Shawn Liotta had no doubts about calling upon his junior kicker Ryan Croushore with a potential game-winning field goal late in the fourth quarter.

And a week after missing a potential winner from the exact same distance, Croushore got his redemption Friday night.

Croushore booted a 31-yard field goal for what proved to be the winning score in a 30-27 win for Burrell over Valley in a thrilling edition of the “Battle of the Bypass” on Friday night at Valley Memorial Stadium.

“I call him Leg-a-Tron,” Liotta said. “That’s my name for him. I had no doubt that he was going to knock that thing through. I don’t know if he has a girlfriend, but he might have one after he made this kick.”

Croushore’s field goal came with less than two minutes remaining. He was modest about his big kick but admitted it felt pretty good to make it.

“You just have to stay calm in those situations,” Croushore said. “I just wanted to knock it in. It feels great, but we had a lot of guys putting everything they had out there for our team. Yeah, I scored the game winner, but there were a lot of guys that helped us get there.”

The Bucs were able to nullify one last drive from Valley. There was a controversial no call on a potential pass interference on second down of the final drive, which would’ve put the Vikings near midfield. The drive ended on four consecutive incompletions.

With the win, Burrell improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2012.

It was the fourth straight win in the series for the Bucs, but it wasn’t easy.

Burrell led 27-14 entering the fourth quarter, but the Vikings clawed back.

Darnell Coaston gave the Vikings a spark with an amazing individual effort. He caught a swing pass behind the line and looked to be stopped for a loss but broke free and ran from the right sideline to the left side, picking up blockers along the way and ended up scoring a 23-yard touchdown that cut the lead to 27-21.

On Valley’s next drive, Tristin Goodwin found Xavier Wilson with a 13-yard touchdown pass on fourth down. A bad snap nullified the extra point leaving the score tied 27-27.

“Everyone who watched tonight saw two teams battle to the bitter end,” first-year Vikings coach Dave Heavner said. “I’m proud of everyone on this football team. We are building this program one brick at a time and we stacked another brick tonight.”

Some turnovers and a couple big plays set the stage for a back-and-forth first half.

The Bucs fumbled on the first play from scrimmage, giving Valley the ball deep in Burrell territory. The Vikings committed several penalties that moved them backwards and they ended up squandering the opportunity and turned the ball over on downs.

When Burrell fumbled again late in the first quarter, Valley took full advantage.

After moving the ball into the red zone, Goodwin pitched a pop pass to Wilson, who came in motion on the play, and Wilson ran around the left side into the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown.

Burrell responded with a methodical drive that ended with a Devin Beattie 5-yard touchdown run. Beattie carried the ball eight times on the drive.

Valley fumbled on the next possession deep in its own territory and Chase Fenner cashed the turnover in for Burrell with a 1-yard quarterback plunge, giving the Bucs a 13-7 lead.

It looked as if Burrell would continue to add to its lead after forcing a Valley three-and-out, but on the following possession, a fumble near midfield was scooped up by Wilson and taken 40 yards to the end zone to give Valley a 14-13 lead late in the first half.

On the next possession, Beattie broke free and scored from 54 yards out for his second score. The Bucs failed on a 2-point conversion, but took a 19-14 lead into halftime.

Valley still leads the all-time series 25-18, but Liotta this year’s seniors will have bragging rights for life.

“Our seniors get to leave here and say they never lost to Valley,” Liotta said. “For the rest of their lives when they see these guys around town, they can always say that. It’s something for them to be proud of.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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