Ligonier Valley routs Portage to win 4th straight Appalachian Bowl

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Saturday, October 26, 2019 | 10:25 PM


Chalk up another Appalachian Bowl rout for the Ligonier Valley football team.

Kyrie Miller rushed for 234 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries before leaving the game with an ankle injury in the third quarter as the Rams cruised to a 58-6 victory over Portage on Saturday night at Penns Manor to claim their fourth consecutive victory in the annual District 6 game.

Sam Sheeder and Nick Beitel also scored three times each for Ligonier Valley.

The game matches the regular-season champions from the Heritage and Western Pennsylvania Athletic conferences.

“It’s an amazing story,” Ligonier Valley coach Roger Beitel said. “These seniors have had four undefeated (regular) seasons at 10-0, four Heritage Conference championships and four Appalachian Bowl championships. That’s pretty impressive.”

The game likely was the last representing the Heritage Conference for Ligonier Valley. The school has voted to leave District 6 and return to the WPIAL to compete in all sports next season. The move is pending approval by District 6 and WPIAL officials.

Ligonier Valley was a full member of the WPIAL from 1927-69.

With rain steadily picking up from the start of the game, Ligonier Valley agreed to accept the opening kickoff when Portage deferred at the coin flip.

The Mustangs tried an onside kick that was covered by Ligonier Valley’s Cam Mears near midfield.

Ligonier Valley (10-0) scored on Miller’s 51-yard touchdown run before the Mustangs could blink.

Miller, Ligonier Valley’s all-time leading rusher, stuffed the stats sheet before being helped off the field.

“I didn’t really think too much when it happened,” Miller said. “I knew I tweaked it, but I think I could’ve gone back in if I needed to.”

The 5-foot-9, 185-pound senior said he should be ready to play this week, when Ligonier Valley opens the District 6-2A playoffs.

He followed up his first TD by scoring on another long run, of 42 yards, on Ligonier Valley’s second possession and also scored on a 9-yard run before being injured in the third.

Quarterback Sheeder added 1-yard runs in each of the first two quarters and later added a 5-yard touchdown run.

Nick Beitel, the coach’s son, led the Rams’ second-team offense with fourth-quarter TD runs of 22, 1 and 23 yards.

Portage (8-2), which already had qualified for the District 6-A playoffs, scored late in the fourth on Ty Kennedy’s 7-yard run.

In four Appalachian Bowls since the game returned from a 21-year absence, Ligonier Valley has outscored four opponents from the WestPAC by a combined 200-14.

Ligonier Valley’s victory caps a weekend of crossover games matching conference teams from the Heritage and WestPAC that resulted in an 8-2 edge for the Heritage. It brings the series mark to 32-8 in favor of Heritage teams dating to a reboot of the Appalachian Bowl and crossover series in 2016.

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