Richland again takes down Ligonier Valley in District 6 title game

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Friday, November 15, 2019 | 9:49 PM


ALTOONA — This is not how the Ligonier Valley football team wanted its final game in District 6 to end.

A quick start by No. 1 Richland and untimely mistakes were too much for No. 2 Ligonier Valley to overcome in a 34-6 loss in the District 6 Class 2A championship game Friday night at Mansion Park Stadium.

Richland scored on its first two possessions, turned away Ligonier Valley three times in the red zone, and captured its second consecutive district title.

“We had a slow start and we turned the ball over again,” Ligonier Valley coach Roger Beitel said. “Every time we thought we had momentum, got some drives and got inside the red zone, we didn’t come away with any points. That came back to hurt us.”

Senior Trevor Tustin caught two touchdown passes, and senior Caleb Burke scored twice and threw a pair of touchdown passes for Richland.

Richland (12-0), which claimed its third district crown, will face District 12 champion Bishop McDevitt (7-6) in the PIAA quarterfinals Nov. 22. Bishop McDevitt defeated Dunmore, 28-13.

Ligonier Valley (12-1), which likely played its final game as a District 6 member, had reached the district title game four consecutive seasons. The LV Rams lost for the second consecutive time to Richland — they lost 21-12 in 2018. Ligonier Valley defeated Bishop McCort in 2016 and ‘17.

The WPIAL Board of Directors will meet Monday and are expected to accept Ligonier Valley into the league starting in 2020-21. District 6 officials already voted to release Ligonier Valley per the school’s request.

If the WPIAL accepts Ligonier Valley, the only hurdle left will be the PIAA board’s approval in December. Ligonier Valley joined District 6 in 1969.

Ligonier Valley, which was attempting to win a third District 6 title in four years, did have chances to get back in the game after Richland grabbed a quick 14-0 lead, but it failed to convert.

Ligonier Valley lost a fumble inside the Richland 5 in the second quarter, and quarterback Sam Sheeder had a pass intercepted in the end zone during the third quarter.

“I was really excited that we came out in the second half and got the turnover (Jasper Arnone interception),” Beitel said. “I thought we seized the momentum and weren’t able to capitalize.”

The only bad news for Richland was starting quarterback Kellan Stahl injured his wrist in the first half and did not play offense in the second half.

Before he left, he tossed touchdown passes of 12 yards to Burke and 37 to Tustin to build a 14-0 lead.

“We went up 14-0 and it was kind of eerie like last year when they jumped out quick,” Richland coach Brandon Bailey said. “It was worrisome for us. The catch by Trevor (Tustin) was huge.”

Richland seemed headed to a third score, but Ligonier Valley defensive back John Beard intercepted Stahl’s pass in the end zone. It was his seventh interception of the season.

Burke replaced Stahl at quarterback and after throwing an interception on Richland’s first possession of the third quarter, he threw a touchdown pass of 31 yards to Tustin to make 21-0.

“The kid made a super catch,” Beitel said. “I was proud how the defense played. We did a good job on their running game.”

Ligonier Valley got on the board on the last play of the third quarter, when Sheeder scored on a 1-yard run.

But Burke, the leading receiver for Richland, showed off his arm in the fourth quarter. He completed 5 of 8 passes for 148 yards. He hit Griffin Larue for 31 yards and he ran 16 yards for a score. Stahl completed 5 of 14 passes for 133 yards.

“I played quarterback when I was a freshman,” Burke said. “So I knew I could handle it. We’re a fast starting team. We’ve done that all season.”

Ligonier Valley senior running back Kyrie Miller finished his career by rushing for 105 yards.

Ligonier Valley turned the ball over three times.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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