Hough lifts Beaver Falls past Apollo-Ridge, into WPIAL Class 2A championship game

Friday, November 6, 2020 | 10:49 PM

Josh Hough has had plenty of explosive runs this season for No. 1-seeded Beaver Falls.

But the senior Syracuse recruit had a career night Friday, rushing for 368 yards as the Tigers earned a berth in the WPIAL Class 2A title game with a 50-27 victory over No. 4 Apollo-Ridge at Geneva’s Reeves Field.

Touchdown runs of 78 and 86 yards in the second half punctuated Hough’s 22 carries.

His backfield mate, Shileak Livingston, also made a major contribution with 107 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Beaver Falls (9-0) will now seek its fifth WPIAL crown at 5 p.m. Nov. 14 against Sto-Rox at West View’s Martorelli Stadium.

“It was the first 300-night in my career, and I want to thank my line and God,” Hough said. “It’s unreal. They go hard every play, and I want to thank them for everything they did for me.”

The Vikings, who advanced to the semifinals for the first time in school history, ended their season at 6-1.

While Hough, Livingston and quarterback Jaren Brickner, who passed for 161 yards, kept the stats-keepers busy in the press box, the offensive line of Connor Paolucci, Sy’Mauri McCoy, Mitchell Myers, Nate Harris and Anthony Cousar were busy opening up holes.

“That crew has been opening up holes for those two all season,” Tigers coach Nick Nardone said. “They did it again tonight against a great defensive team.”

Despite the reputation of two stellar offenses, the game was scoreless until Quadir Thomas sneaked in back of the Apollo-Ridge defense and caught a 42-yard pass from Brickner with 26 seconds left in the first quarter to put Beaver Falls on the scoreboard. The Vikings were preparing for the run, but Thomas was so wide open that Brickner was able to set and feed the Tigers receiver an easy pass.

“We have to keep teams honest,” Nardone said. “You want to put 11 in the box, we’re going to throw the ball. Jaren stepped up and threw some great passes in the first half on third downs with pressure in his face, and he put them right on the money.”

A 44-yard run by Hough set up a 3-yard touchdown burst by Livingston to put the Tigers up 14-0.

But Apollo-Ridge responded with a quick drive — 58 yards in three plays. A 43-yard pass to Klay Fitzroy put quarterback Jake Fello over the 1,000-yard mark for the season. The aerial set up a 5-yard scoring run by Logan Harmon on the following play.

A 79-yard pass reception by Trey Singleton gave Beaver Falls a 22-7 lead at the half.

“We knew it was going to be an uphill battle all the way because of what they had,” Vikings coach John Skiba said. “(Hough) just wears on you, and they wear on you, taking his time and hitting holes. When he hits them, it’s just hard to bring him down.”

The teams virtually exchanged scoring drives in the second half, with Hough scoring twice and Livingston once.

Fello broke a tackle at the Tigers’ 15 en route to a 23-yard scoring run. Fello then threw to sophomore receiver Dom Curci, and Harmon scored again on a 2-yard run on fourth-and-goal to cut the Tigers lead to 44-27 with 7:21 left in the game.

Dom Reiter recovered an onsides kick, and the Vikings were in business at their 47. But Apollo-Ridge was stopped on downs at the Beaver Falls 12, and two play later, Hough took off on an 86-yard run to put the icing on the cake.

“They’re just so big and strong, and they’re strong on defense,” Skiba said. “Maybe I should have thrown the ball earlier in the game. But we didn’t play well in the first half. We were a little timid.”

Skiba said good bye to a considerable amount of seniors who contributed to the program’s success.

“It’s hard to lose all those seniors,” he said. “Had some great nights and some great practices. I told them I appreciated everything they’ve done.”

Hough now has 1,816 yards on the season with 174 points. Livingston has carried the ball for 969 yards.

Fello finished his season with 1,230 yards. Klay Fitzroy has six receptions for 93 yards — 695 on the season.

Watch an archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

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