Knause’s faith in players helps Chartiers Valley knock off South Fayette

Friday, September 18, 2020 | 11:21 PM

Even if things hadn’t always gone to plan Friday, Chartiers Valley coach Dan Knause had faith in his players.

In the end, his trust paid off.

Senior kicker Jacob Salsberry connected on a 22-yard field goal with 17 seconds remaining, and Chartiers Valley completed a second-half comeback to top visiting Class 5A No. 5 South Fayette, 9-7, in a nonconference game.

Salsberry, in his first year kicking for the Colts (2-0), missed a 28-yard attempt and an extra point by hooking both to the left earlier in the game. But after CV pieced together an outstanding 14-play, 71-yard drive with under four minutes left, Knause gave his kicker another shot on fourth-and-2 from his preferred right hashmark.

“He’s not as good from the left hash, and I knew that. That’s why we went for fourth-and-1 (earlier in the game), because we were on the left,” Knause said. “But he’s a first-year kicker, God bless him, and what a kick.”

Knause was rewarded for sticking with his kicker, and he showed the same trust in his quarterback duo.

Junior Anthony Mackey started the game, but as the teams got bogged down in a defensive struggle, Knause turned to senior Socrates Boulis for a third-quarter boost. Boulis came through on his first drive with a 27-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Collura that cut the South Fayette (1-1) lead to 7-6.

“We’re lucky to have them both. It’s tough when you have so many good kids at one position, and I trust them both, 100 percent,” Knause said. “I felt like we needed a spark, and Socrates gave it to us. I knew some time we’d have to go to Socrates with his experience — Anthony played a great game last week — and it’s just nice having both.”

After the Colts got the ball back at their 24 on a fourth-down sack by Collura, Mackey returned to the quarterback spot for the final drive. The junior answered the call by racking up 32 of his 46 rushing yards and going 4 for 4 passing for 32 yards on the final drive.

It wasn’t over after the go-ahead kick, however, and South Fayette senior Joey Audia returned the squib kickoff all the way to his team’s 45. The Lions had one chance with 10 seconds left, but the Colts defense came through again by swarming senior quarterback Naman Alemada and setting off a massive celebration on the Chartiers Valley sideline for winning the first meeting between the two neighboring schools.

“It’s pretty sweet because a lot of former Chartiers Valley people leave and move up the hill (to South Fayette), and that’s a great community,” Knause said. “I’ve got so much respect for coach (Joe) Rossi and his program, and it means so much because of what he’s done the last 15 years. But we’ve been running a good program here for four years, and now people are starting to realize it.”

The Colts defense did an excellent job containing the usually high-powered Lions offense, limiting Alemada to 16-of-27 passing 145 yards and a second-quarter touchdown pass to Audia. Senior running back Shay Aitken added a game-high 60 yards rushing for South Fayette.

South Fayette’s defense was no slouch, either, bottling up a CV rushing attack that looked unstoppable last week against Montour and holding it to 128 yards. The Lions also turned away the Colts in the red zone three times in the first half: twice with turnovers on downs and the other on the missed field goal.

“They did a nice job on film and beat a pretty good Montour team last week. They have a lot of seniors, and it was a good football game, as we expected,” Rossi said. “I think both teams were gassed at the end, and their kid made a kick when they needed it. It was an awesome football game, and we can learn from it.”

The Colts also got a lift from junior Patrick Mulligan. His blocked punt set up the eventual missed field goal drive, and he also ran for 44 yards, which included a big 23-yard burst that ignited the CV touchdown drive.

Matt Grubba is a contributing writer.

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