Sophomore kicker the difference as Derry beats Beaver Falls in OT

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Friday, November 1, 2019 | 11:14 PM


Derry just needed a Chance in overtime.

First-year sophomore kicker Chance White, moments after watching his counterpart from visiting Beaver Falls miss an extra point, calmly knocked his opportunity through the uprights to lift fourth-seeded Derry to a thrilling 28-27 victory over No. 5 Beaver Falls in a WPIAL Class 3A quarterfinal playoff game Friday night at Trojan Stadium.

Derry senior running back Justin Huss scored his fourth touchdown after Beaver Falls went ahead 27-21 in the extra period. Huss ran for 200 yards on 24 carries to lead the Trojans (9-2) back to the semifinals, where they will face No. 1 Central Valley (10-1) next Friday at a site to be determined.

In overtime, Josh Hough scored from 8 yards on the second play for Beaver Falls (8-3), but kicker Will Booze, who made 3 of 3 extra points up to that point, missed the point-after.

“I feel bad for the dude,” White said. “But I had to come through for my team, and that’s what I did. I know what it feels like to miss. It was just another day at practice, that’s all I took it as. If I thought about it too much, something (bad) was going to happen.”

Huss scored on Derry’s first play, a 10-yard touchdown, to tie it 27-27.

“We wanted to try and block it,” Derry coach Tim Sweeney said of the extra point after Beaver Falls’ score in OT. “You feel sorry for the kid. He was perfect all night. You hope somewhere in his life down the road he can learn from it and find some sort of positive motivation from it. You care about kids. These are still teenagers. And we forget that sometimes.”

Sweeney had confidence in White, a converted soccer player, who had missed just two extra points this season and made field goals of 40 and 41 yards.

“We stress we have to be better than anybody on special teams,” Sweeney said. “An extra point we never take for granted. I’m glad he’s with us. It was a big kick with a lot of pressure.”

A classic, back-and-forth matchup ended in Derry’s favor as the Trojans overcame a potent 1-2 punch from the Tigers’ rushers.

Huss continues to be a gamebreaker for the Trojans.

“It doesn’t surprise me anymore what he does,” Sweeney said.

Livingston rushed for 180 yards and two touchdowns, and Hough ran for 139 yards and a score for the Tigers, who trailed after three quarters, 21-14.

Huss went over 2,000 yards for the season, reaching the mark in the seniors’ final game on their home field.

“I don’t care how many yards I have at the end of the season, as along as we keep playing hard like we did,” Huss said. “We loved how we played tonight. All playoff games are huge, and each and every one of them is a pleasure to win.”

Livingston stunned the Derry crowd when he took the first play from scrimmage 67 yards for a touchdown.

The Tigers fumbled, however, on the next drive, and Huss recovered deep in Tigers’ territory. Two plays later, Huss ran in from 11 yards to tie it 7-7.

The Trojans went ahead 14-7 when Huss scored on another 11-yard run. The key play was a quick-hitter from Paul Koontz to Amari Graham, who emerged wide open and took a pass 47 yards.

The Tigers answered quickly as six runs set up an over-the-shoulder touchdown pass from Livingston to Noah Vaughan. The play covered 23 yards.

“I said all week our defense is going to have to tackle. It was a challenge to tackle them,” Sweeney said. “I thought they knocked us off the ball a little bit on the defensive line, which is a concern.”

More Huss: the Trojans’ tailback bounced outside — he gained 63 yards in three carries on the ensuing drive — and raced 41 yards to make it 21-14.

Livingston and Hough both topped 100 yards rushing in the first half, with 117 and 108, respectively, while Huss ran for 114 yards before the break for Derry.

“Give Beaver Falls all the credit in the world. Those kids battled and are as tough as they come,” Sweeney said. “It’s too bad somebody had to lose this game.”

After a scoreless third quarter, Livingston found some space to the outside to score from 23 yards out to tie it 21-21. The Tigers overcame a hold on the drive and took advantage of a face mask by Derry.

Matt McDowell dashed a late Beaver Falls drive in regulation when he intercepted Jabarhi Cleckley, who checked in late at quarterback and threw two passes. Four players threw passes for the Tigers.

Derry went from having one home playoff game in 33 years to hosting three in four years. The Trojans, in the playoffs for the fourth straight year, were WPIAL runners-up last season to Aliquippa.

The Trojans has five playoff wins in school history. Four of them have happened in the last three seasons.

Derry honored its 2016 team that went undefeated during the regular season and won the school’s first home playoff game.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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