Burt’s big game leads Steel Valley past Ligonier Valley

Saturday, October 2, 2021 | 11:13 AM

NiJhay Burt scored five touchdowns, and for the third week in a row, rushed for more than 200 yards, leading Steel Valley to a 40-0 win over Class 2A No. 5 Ligonier Valley on Friday in this Allegheny Conference opener at Campbell Field in Munhall.

After the Ironmen’s defense stopped the Rams (5-1, 0-1) on downs at the Steel Valley 30-yard line, the Ironmen (5-0, 1-0) put together a 5 minute, 20 second scoring drive that covered 70 yards. After a 3-yard run by Burt was called back on a penalty, Cruce Brookins scored on a 4-yard run on 4th and goal, giving the Ironmen a 6-0 lead with 4:10 left in the opening quarter.

On the ensuing Rams drive, NyZair Burt intercepted a Broderick Schreyer pass to set the Ironmen up at the Ligonier Valley 46-yard line. NiJhay Burt found the end zone for the first time on a 1-yard run to culminate a drive in 4:11, and give Steel Valley a 13-0 lead 52 seconds into the second quarter.

The Ironmen defense forced another turnover on downs at the Steel Valley 40-yard line. Just over four minutes later, NiJhay Burt scored again, this time on a 1-yard run to push the Steel Valley lead to 20-0. Burt’s run was set up on a 31-yard pass from Brookins to JeSean Wright on a third-and-10.

NiJhay Burt then showed his defensive prowess with an interception on the ensuing Rams drive. Burt then scored on a 45-yard run, making it 27-0 Steel Valley.

Steel Valley’s defense was at it again as Brookins came up with the third interception of the first half with :20 seconds left at the Ironmen 45.

On the first play of the third quarter, it was NiJhay Burt scoring again on a 65-yard run to put the Ironmen up, 33-0. Steel Valley went for a-point conversion, hoping to invoke the mercy rule, but the pass failed.

NyZair Burt had his second interception with 2:45 left in the 3rd quarter. That led to NiJhay Burt’s fifth touchdown, an 8-yard run to round out the scoring and put Steel Valley ahead 40-0 with 11:53 left in the 4th quarter.

Despite starting the season with five wins, injuries have piled up and hurt the Rams.

Starting quarterback and defensive back Haden Sierocky suffered a broken arm in a Week 2 win over Jeannette. Tight end/linebacker Miles Higgins was lost to a knee injury the following week against Frazier. And WR/DB Ryan Harbert sustained a broken collarbone in last week’s win over Carrick.

Rams coach Roger Beitel said: “We’re really not filling the holes. We’re trying to change things around systematically to get our best 11 players on the field. We’re also moving some guys around as well.”

Beitel said Higgins and Harbert likely are done for the season. Sierocky has a chance to return late in the regular season or for the playoffs.

NiJhay Burt finished with 27 carries for 277 yards. In the past three games, Burt has rushed for 762 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Steel Valley coach Ray Braszo said: “NiJhay is a breakaway runner. He gets out in the open and has the extra burst, and just goes. He’s a really good back and has really good speed, and a lot of power too.”

The only bright spot for Ligonier Valley was RB Nick Beitel, who rushed for 117 yards on 21 carries.

Ligonier Valley will host undefeated Serra Catholic next week. The Eagles were the preseason favorites in the Allegheny Conference.

Beitel said: “We knew coming in the conference was really strong. We looked at the schedule and were like, ‘Hey, welcome to the WPIAL’. Top to bottom this conference is loaded with tough teams and talent.”

Steel Valley will travel to Summit Academy for a Saturday afternoon matchup against the winless Knights.

Matt Vandriak is a contributing writer.

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