Ligonier Valley spreads the wealth, beats Apollo-Ridge to clinch playoff spot

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Friday, October 29, 2021 | 11:08 PM


It was a fun night for the Ligonier Valley football team Friday.

The Rams had three players throw touchdown passes, including 300-pound center Jude Grzywinski, and rolled over Apollo-Ridge, 48-22, at a rainy and damp Weller Field.

The victory clinched a berth in the WPIAL playoffs, the Rams’ first since rejoining the WPIAL, and they finished in third place in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference with an 8-2 overall record, 3-2 in the conference.

The loss by Apollo-Ridge (2-8, 1-4) eliminated them from playoff contention.

Ligonier Valley will find out Saturday which team it will face in the playoffs. The Rams could host, but they must find a local field that has turf.

“I want to quell the rumors right away. We don’t have a quarterback controversy between our 303-pound center and our quarterbacks,” Ligonier Valley coach Roger Beitel joked after the game. “It was a fun night. It was all about our seniors, and man did they perform.

“Grant Dowden was a dude. He made plays all over the place. He got it started with two big quickies.”

Dowden scored three touchdowns, caught three passes for 142 yards, rushed for 55 yards and intercepted a pass.

Ligonier Valley scored touchdowns on its first four possessions and built a 28-0 lead in the second quarter.

Dowden caught a 65-yard touchdown pass on a wide receiver reverse from Matt Marinchak and then caught a swing pass from Broderick Schreyer and raced 75 yards to give the Rams a quick 13-0 lead.

“It’s the most fun I’ve had in awhile,” Dowden said. “It was a mix of the entire team having fun, and we didn’t get mad over things we couldn’t control.

“It was crazy. I wasn’t expecting the pass, but I’m glad Matt saw me. It was awesome. On the swing pass, I didn’t want to get caught.”

The Rams scored again when Nick Beitel caught a screen pass from Schreyer and rambled 35 yards for a score on the final play of the first quarter for a 21-0 lead.

Midway through the second quarter, Schreyer hit Marinchak on a 35-yard touchdown pass for a 28-0 lead.

Schreyer completed 8 of 14 passes for 200 yards and four touchdowns.

Apollo-Ridge put together a nice drive on its initial possession, but it fizzled out at the Ligonier 32.

“We had some things going, but we’re a young team and I have a sophomore quarterback that is getting better every week,” Apollo-Ridge coach John Skiba said. “We did some things well, and we missed some things. We missed some assignments. That’s just us. We’re building, and we’re learning.

“They took advantage of our mistakes. They’re a good team. They’re solid team under coach Beitel.”

Landon Harmon’s 10-yard run got Apollo-Ridge on the board in the second quarter, but the Vikings could never get any closer.

Dowden’s 5-yard touchdown run made it 35-6 in the third quarter, but Apollo-Ridge quarterback Karter Schrock countered with an 8-yard dash to trim the lead to 35-14.

Schrock completed 13 of 25 passes for 178 yards, 10 going to Angelo Cicco for 149 yards.

Schreyer connected on a 14-yard strike to Haden Sierocky in the fourth quarter, and that’s when coach Beitel decided to give Grzywinski time in the wildcat. He ran twice for 7 yards, and then on his third play, he shoveled a pass to George Golden for a 5-yard score.

“With George’s touchdown catch, every senior scored a touchdown this season for us,” Beitel said. “We controlled our own destiny, and we took care of business. I’m proud of them and proud of this program.”

Schrock scored his second touchdown of the game on a 1-yard plunge with 30 seconds left.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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