High School Sports

Penns Valley closes season with decisive win

Penns Valley’s Ryan Ripka (28) cuts past a Cowanesque Valley defender on his way to the end zone for one of his two touchdowns in the Rams’ 42-7 victory Friday night.
Penns Valley’s Ryan Ripka (28) cuts past a Cowanesque Valley defender on his way to the end zone for one of his two touchdowns in the Rams’ 42-7 victory Friday night. adrey@centredaily.com

The Penns Valley football team ended its season with a new tradition.

The Rams players lined up under the scoreboard and rang their victory bell after cruising to a 55-15 win over Cowanesque Valley on Friday night. While the bell rang, other players embraced, soaking in the team’s third and final win. This Rams team wanted to be the first to ring the bell, and it dominated from start to finish offensively and defensively.

“It was bittersweet,” senior Marcus Woodford said. “Before our first two wins, the bell wasn’t there. So having it here now, it’s the first and last time.”

Woodford was one of many standouts on the night, finishing with two interceptions and two touchdowns. Dillon Steiger scored the team’s first two touchdowns to help Penns Valley jump out to a 21-0 lead by the end of the first quarter, and Ryan Ripka rushed for 210 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries.

Quarterback Andrew Tobias finished 9 for 13 for 124 yards and three touchdowns in the win.

The Rams led 42-7 at the half.

“I think that our kids have practiced all week with the intent on finishing their careers with a win,” Penns Valley coach Martin Tobias said. “They knew we were facing an opponent that was foreign to us, so they were very diligent. The coaches did a great job preparing the kids and the kids did a great job of executing tonight.”

After Steiger punched in the team’s first touchdown on a 5-yard run, Cowanesque Valley fumbled on the kickoff return. The Rams recovered the loose ball to set up a four-play drive — four rushes by Steiger capped by a 6-yard touchdown run.

The lead grew to 21-0 when Woodford picked off a pass by Cowanesque Valley quarterback Seth Huyler and returned it 52 yards for a touchdown with eight seconds left in the first quarter.

Tobias and Ripka got going in the second quarter.

Andrew Tobias connected with Christian Rudolph on an 8-yard touchdown to make it 28-0 and found Woodford at the end of the half for a 27-yard touchdown to push the Rams’ lead to 42-7.

Woodford had dropped a pass two plays earlier.

“That was redemption,” Woodford said.

In between Tobias’ touchdown passes, Ripka raced past the Cowanesque Valley defense down the right sideline for a 53-yard touchdown run. It was the highlight of his seven-carry, 120-yard first half.

“He’s a fun player to watch,” Martin Tobias said. “He’s a fun player to have on our side. He’s progressed and grown and developed as the season’s gone along.”

Andrew Tobias and Ripka accounted for Penns Valley’s final two scores.

Tobias lobbed his only pass of the second half down the sideline for a 40-yard touchdown to Jared Hurd in the third quarter. Ripka finished the night with another burst down the sideline, going 63 yards to extend the Rams’ lead to 55-15.

The sophomore learned from the seniors throughout the season.

“You got to be all in,” Ripka said. “You got to play your hardest every play.”

Woodford, who moved to the area from Detroit, Mich., this season, called the win a good way to go out.

The Rams played well on both sides of the ball.

And Woodford said he enjoyed his first and final season with the Rams.

“I didn’t know what to expect coming here, but it’s just a team, a real team,” Woodford said. “I found that here.”

Martin Tobias was happy to see his seniors finish their careers with a win.

Said Tobias: “They deserved this.”