The Penns Valley Rams started Saturday night’s PIAA District 6 Class 2A quarterfinal against the Marion Center Stingers hot and never turned back.
The Rams scored 21 points in the first quarter, which proved to be more than enough to beat the run-heavy Stingers, 48-12.
Penns Valley head coach Marty Tobias said the hot start helped increase his team’s confidence early.
“That’s pretty important from a confidence standpoint,” he said. “We hadn’t played in two weeks, so there were a lot of questions about how we were going to come out and how we were going to play. We’re really grateful that we got a good start.”
The Rams opened the scoring just 20 seconds into the game. The first play from scrimmage was a 40-yard pass from senior quarterback Aaron Tobias to senior tight end Logan Snyder to get the ball down to the Stingers’ 25. Tobias then connected with senior wide receiver Austin Fisher for a 25-yard touchdown to make it 7-0, Penns Valley.
The two teams then went scoreless for nearly 11 minutes before Tobias found another offensive weapon. The senior quarterback faked a handoff to junior running back Seth Baney and threw a quick pass to junior tight end Mason Lieb for an 8-yard score to extend the Rams’ lead to 14 with 55.5 seconds left in the first quarter.
It didn’t take long for Penns Valley to add to its lead from there. This time, it was the Rams’ defense that made a play. Junior defensive lineman John Aston read a Marion Center screen pass perfectly and got the pick, taking it 24 yards to the end zone. The interception and ensuing extra point gave the Rams a 21 point lead with 1.1 seconds left in the first quarter.
Both teams experienced another scoreless stretch from there, with neither team scoring until there was 1:56 left in the first half when the Rams struck again.
Tobias dropped back to pass and hit junior wide receiver Stephen Ripka in stride for a 52-yard touchdown.
Even with the hefty lead, the Rams continued to light up the scoreboard in the second half.
Tobias found Lieb again with 5:40 left in the third quarter to make it 34-0 after the missed extra point. The senior quarterback was all but buried in the backfield but had the lower body strength to stay on his feet with a Stinger defender around his waist, finding Lieb for the score from four yards out.
Three plays later, the elite Penns Valley defense struck. Junior linebacker Aiden Brinker came up with his second interception of the game, with the first coming in the first quarter. Brinker picked the pass off and sprinted 34 yards for a touchdown, enacting the mercy rule and a running clock the rest of the game with 4:01 left in the third quarter.
The Rams tacked on one more score when Baney took it in from 14 yards out to make it 48-0.
The Stingers would go on to add two touchdowns from Garet Wells in the fourth quarter, one from 15 yards out and one from a yard out to make the score 48-12.
With the win the Rams will take on Richland in the District 6 Class 2A semifinals.
Aaron Tobias, who is one passing touchdown short of the state single season record of 52, said he’s looking forward to the matchup.
“They’re a tough team,” the youngest Tobias said. “Obviously, they’re undefeated going in and they got a bye week. This gives us some momentum going forward, and we’re really excited we got this win under our belt after two weeks off.”
PENNS VALLEY 48, MARION CENTER 12
(Friday at Spring Mills)
Penns Valley 21 7 13 7 – 48
Marion Center 0 0 0 12 – 12
PV — Fisher 25 pass from Tobias (Brinker PAT), 11:40
PV — Lieb 8 pass from Tobias (Brinker PAT), 0:55
PV — Aston 24 interception return (Brinker PAT), 0:01
PV — Ripka 52 pass from Tobias (Brinker kick), 1:56
PV — Lieb 4 pass from Tobias (kick failed), 5:40
PV — Brinker 34 interception return (Brinker kick), 4:01
PV — Baney 14 run (Brinker kick), 6:04
MC — Wells 15 run (kick failed), 4:30
MC — Wells 1 run (2-pt failed), 2:51
Top Rusher: PV: Baney 7-75-1. MC: Wells 28-143-2.
Top Passer: PV: Tobias 22-36-4-1 214. MC: Ty Ryen 5-12-0-3 80.
Top Receiver: PV: Ripka 2-63-1. MC: Jonah Vaglia 3-49
Interceptions: PV: Brinker 2, Ripka, Aston. MC: Hunter Lydic.