Long after a 41-7 defeat at the hands of Tyrone, Penns Valley’s senior football players were still in end zone many in embrace and posing for photos with family members and each other.
On Senior Night, Rams coach Martin Tobias said some things were worth celebrating no matter what the scoreboard read.
Clutching a sign with a photo to add to his 19-year collection as head coach, Tobias waxed philosophical about the evening and the end zone celebration.
“Sports teaches so many things,” he said.“These kids knew that when they went out there they were under the gun. They were playing a Tyrone team that’s a really good team. They knew when they stepped on the field it was going to take an extraordinary effort. I think each one of them can look at each other as they go off the field and say, ‘We tried our best and played hard.’
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“This is what is going to last,” Tobias said, while pointing toward his players and their parents. “These bonds, these ties and these memories are going to last a lifetime — and that’s important. All of the skills that sports and participation bring about, I wish every young person could experience belonging to something that’s important to them.”
Like Tobias said, his players faced a monumental task against the Golden Eagles (8-1), who were coming off a 61-0 romp against Class AAAA Central Mountain.
Tyrone got two touchdown passes from Garrett Hunter, who was 10 of 16 passing for 152 yards, and two rushing scores from Aleic Hunter, who ran for 106 yards.
The Golden Eagles raced to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and led 28-0 at the halftime break, but were still disappointed with at least 12 of the 24 minutes.
“We definitely were not satisfied with the way we played the first half,” said Aleic Hunter. “The second quarter, we went downhill. We felt like we were losing what we had gained. They came out and hit us in right in the mouth.”
“That letdown in the second quarter, that’s what we’ve just got to avoid,” said first-year Tyrone coach Jason Wilson. “Every time we come down here, I don’t know if it’s the trip or whatever, but Penns Valley plays us tough.”
The Golden Eagles got off to a quick start, scoring in three of their first four possessions.
Their first three offensive plays went for 10 yards or more. Garrett Hunter capped a 68-yard march with a 15-yard strike to Duane Boone in the left corner of the end zone. Ethan Vipond’s extra point made it 7-0 just 1:47 into the contest.
The Rams (2-7) forced a turnover on the next Tyrone possession, but gave it right back three plays later on a fumble at their 18. On third-and-12, the Golden Eagles’ Cameron Bakhsheshe rolled around the left end on an end-around to score from 20 yards out.
On Tyrone’s next possession, Garrett Hunter found Nicholas Getz on a third-down pass at the Penns Valley 30. Getz spun away from the defense and ran untouched to the end zone to make it 21-0 with 2:32 still left in the quarter.
Penns Valley’s offense would struggle all night. Starting quarterback Ben Alexander, who was on the sidelines with a green cast on his left (non-throwing) hand, missed his second consecutive game. Sophomore Andrew Tobias finished 3 of 15 with one interception, although several passes were dropped.
“You can only play with the kids you have,” said Martin Tobias, whose team had 91 total yards. “It’s what we do.”
Aleic Hunter got Tyrone back on the scoreboard 1:20 before the half, capping a 13-play, 64-yard drive with a 10-yard run.
He was back into the end zone again on Tyrone’s first drive in the third quarter, carrying for the final 13 yards in a 57-yard drive.
The 35-0 lead started the running clock and marked the sixth time a Tyrone opponent has faced the mercy rule this season.
“The bond we have is great,” Aleic Hunter said. “Being able to mercy rule teams, it comes with everybody doing their jobs. That’s what we talk about the most —taking care of business and doing our jobs.”
With all of the blowout wins, Hunter said the Golden Eagles have actually benefited most from a 26-14 loss to Clearfield.
“We were getting some big heads,” the senior tailback said. “That Clearfield loss helped us a lot to see where we were at and what we can do.”
“I think we’re playing really well right now,” Wilson added. “We learned a lot about ourselves with the loss to Clearfield a couple of weeks ago. We had to dig down deep and the last two weeks we’ve come back really strong.”
Penns Valley got on the board in the fourth quarter. Sean Beamesderfer turned a swing pass into a 24-yard gain to set up Tobias’ four-yard TD run with 4:50 left. Chase Collison booted the extra point to make it 35-7.
Reserve Gary Weaver ran five yards for Tyrone’s final score.
“We ran into a really good football team,” Martin Tobias said. “It was evident who was better. They were better than we were.”
Penns Valley’s seniors get more one shot at a win against unbeaten Mount Union (9-0) next Friday