Junior running backs power Beaver Falls past Keystone Oaks

Friday, October 4, 2019 | 10:39 PM

Beaver Falls rallied in the fourth quarter behind strong performances from junior tailbacks Shileak Livingston and Josh Hough, beating Keystone Oaks, 34-21, Friday night at Dormont Stadium.

In what Tigers’ third-year head coach Nick Nardone described as a “weird game,” the Tigers led in first downs 18-5 and won the total offense battle, 382-131, yet trailed 21-19 at the end of three quarters.

Ultimately, a stout offensive line and a workhorse night from Livingston and Hough allowed Beaver Falls (5-2, 3-2 Tri-County West) to pull within a win of a second straight Class 3A postseason appearance.

“Mistakes hurt us, but in the end, being down after the third, our kids showed a lot of guts,” Nardone said. “I’m proud of the way they finished off, but it was a crazy game, weird game.”

Beaver Falls opened the scoring on the second play from scrimmage, as Livingston scored the first of his three touchdowns. It was his longest one, coming from 28 yards out after a 47-yard run by Hough on the first offensive snap of the game. The Tigers led 6-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Hough scampered in from 5 yards out with 10 minutes, 37 seconds left in the second quarter to make it 12-0. The Golden Eagles answered on a 10-yard pass from junior quarterback Logan Shrubb to Tyler Hrivnak, a senior receiver, to pull within five after the extra point.

The Tigers added to their lead before the half ended when Livingston scored on a 12-yard run.

Keystone Oaks took the ball to start the second half, and used four plays, all runs, to go 69 yards, scoring on a 12-yard run by Shrubb. He then added a 1-yard score after the home team recovered a Beaver Falls fumble.

“I told the guys we had to make some plays,” sixth-year head coach Greg Perry said. “We had a great drive and got the fumble and scored, but in the end, we ran into a great team. They did what they do.”

It was two long drives for Beaver Falls that would be the demise of Keystone Oaks in the fourth quarter, as the Tigers got touchdown runs of 3 and 2 yards to run away with the win.

Hough finished with 24 carries for 166 yards and two scores, while Livingston ran 17 times for 89 yards and three touchdowns.

“We couldn’t find any momentum to get a stop at the end,” Perry said. “We made some mistakes that hurt us, but that’s a good football team. Hindsight on some things is 20-20.”

Nardone credited his front, but also said his two backs were “excellent” in the contest.

“When push comes to shove, we’re a running team,” Nardone said. “I’m proud of (Hough and Livingston). We ask them to do a lot, and they never got tired and didn’t stop fighting.”

For Keystone Oaks (4-3, 2-3), it’s now an uphill battle for a playoff berth. The Golden Eagles would have to beat Aliquippa and Waynesburg Central and see Beaver Falls lose to Waynesburg Central and Hopewell.

“We’ve got a lot of underclassmen offensively,” Perry said. “The nonconference next week (against Deer Lakes) is big to prove our conference is the best conference. This is a chance for our guys to build and have a winning record at the end of the season. We want to keep building this thing.”

It’s the opposite for Beaver Falls, which can win next week or in Week 9 to get in. Nardone said his team needs to continue to get better and limit the mistakes that were costly against the elite teams in the classification.

“Waynesburg has given some teams some fits from what I’ve seen on film,” Nardone said. “We have to prepare for anything, limit mistakes and play well.”

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