Perfect 10: Beaver Falls wins WPIAL title as double-digit seed, beating Steel Valley in dramatic final

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Friday, November 24, 2023 | 5:00 PM


The magic playoff run continued for Beaver Falls.

The 10th-seeded Tigers upset No. 1 Steel Valley, 14-12, in the WPIAL Class 2A championship game Friday at Acrisure Stadium.

Senior running back Da’talian Beauford atoned for a costly fumble early in the fourth quarter by scoring on a 4-yard run with 44 seconds left. He then ran in the two-point conversion.

The winning drive stayed alive when quarterback Kadin Brickner connected twice with De’Sean Anderson on fourth down.

“My teammates told me after the fumble not to worry because the game wasn’t over,” Beauford said. “They picked me up.”

Anderson then sealed the win, Beaver Falls’ sixth WPIAL title and first since 2020, with an interception in the end zone that ended Steel Valley’s last-gasp comeback attempt.

The Tigers will play the winner of Friday night’s game between Westinghouse and Farrell on Dec. 1 or 2.

The win by Beaver Falls also avenged last year’s championship-game loss to Steel Valley.

“These guys are a family,” Beaver Falls coach Nick Nardone said. “If you look up the definition of family in the dictionary, you’ll see the 2023 Beaver Falls Tigers. These have overcome a lot dring the season.

“We told them during the season that rankings mean nothing. Yes, we took our lumps, but they came together as a team when the playoffs started. They pulled together.”

Beaver Falls lost five games during the season, including three by three points or less. They also have now won three close games in a row by a total of five points.

But things didn’t look good with just over five minutes left.

Steel Valley junior defensive tackle Rasaun Hough grabbed a fumble out of the air and returned it 77 yards for a touchdown to give Steel Valley a 12-6 lead with 5:23 left.

With Beaver Falls threatening to take the lead, senior Joe Ketterman’s hit on Beauford jarred the ball into the waiting arms of Hough.

The 6-foot-3, 235-pound junior, with the aid of his teammates, rumbled down the sidelines for the score.

Beaver Falls (9-5) was dominating in the second half on both sides of the ball.

“We never really got our offense going in the second half to help ur defense,” Steel Valley coach Ray Braszo said. “They played well, and they beat us up front on the offense line a little bit.”

Steel Valley (10-2) pretty much dominated the first half.

The Ironmen grabbed a 6-0 lead on their second possession, driving 53 yards on seven consecutive Donald Barksdale runs. He had a 22-yard gain on his second carry of the drive and scored on a 13-yard run with 4:51 left in the opening quarter.

Beaver Falls took advantage of good field position in the third quarter to tie the score 6-6.

Brickner completed a 10-yard pass to Anderson on fourth-and-goal. The drive was kept alive when a Brickner pass was tipped into the hands of Anderson on fourth-and-6 to the Steel Valley 9.

Beauford rushed for 105 yards and Brickner completed 8 of 13 passes for 71 yards. Anderson caught five passes for 51 yards. Four of those completions came on fourth down to Anderson during the two second-half scoring drives.

“Kadin did a great job giving us a chance to make plays,” Nardone said. “He began the season as our third-string quarterback and never complained. He just did his job.”

Barksdale ended up with 96 yards rushing, but only 12 in the second half. The Ironmen had four possessions and were three-and-out on the first three. They only ran 13 plays in the second half while the Tigers ran 36.

“They completed too many fourth-down passes that kept drives alive,” Braszo said. “They also made some nice catches.”

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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