Aaron Tobias thought he missed him.
The Penns Valley Rams’ senior quarterback dropped back to pass early in the fourth quarter of Friday night’s 49-21 loss to the Richland Rams in the District 6 Class 2A semifinals, and saw teammate Austin Fisher breaking free down the field with a chance to break the single-season state passing touchdown record.
Tobias stepped into his throw and launched a pass from his own 28-yard line. The senior quarterback thought he overthrew Fisher.
“I threw it and I was like, ‘Oh I overthrew him,’” Tobias said after the game. “Then he just sped up and caught it.”
Fisher still had work to do once he reeled the ball in. Richland’s Caleb Burke held onto Fisher’s jersey, punching at the ball.
“Then 12 just tried to punch it (out),” Tobias said. “I was like, ‘hold on to it Austin, hold on to it.’ And he just kept fighting. He’s been doing that all year. He’s been dragging guys. He’s so tough.”
Burke’s efforts weren’t enough to stop Fisher, who powered his way into the end zone with a lunge, scoring a 66-yard touchdown. The touchdown was Tobias’ 53rd of the season, breaking the previous single season state passing touchdown record of 52. He would go on to add another touchdown to the record with a 19-yard pass to senior tight end Logan Snyder for his 54th, and final, touchdown of the season.
With praised heaped on his shoulders, the senior quarterback, who threw for 249 yards and three touchdowns on 17-of-31 passing, deflected.
“We did that as a team,” he said. “Line, receivers, offensive coordinator, everybody, it’s a testament to how hard we worked.”
Aaron’s father, Marty, echoed his son’s sentiments, praising the team for how they fought in the game and how they all earned the record his son broke.
“I’m proud of all of our young men,” Marty said. “I told them at halftime and on our sideline on numerous occasions that we were going to go down swinging.
Aaron struggled to hide his disappointment after the loss, and said while the record was great, but he had much broader goals in mind this season.
“It’s definitely special,” Aaron said. “I would’ve much rather had a District 6 medal around my neck. I don’t care about any stat, I would’ve really rather had that.”
The loss represented the end of an era for the Tobiases and Penns Valley football with Aaron’s departure now that the season is over. He’s Marty’s youngest son and the last of four children he has coached with the Rams. Marty said he hasn’t had time to reflect yet, but is grateful he’s had the opportunity to bond with his sons through football.
“That’s one of those things that I haven’t really prepared for,” Marty said. “Obviously it’s bittersweet. I’m sure there will be a lot of emotions that will flow. Knowing it’s the last time I get to coach Aaron in a game is something I’ll cherish. With it being the last of the four boys, it’s been a magical ride to have my family be a part of the Penns Valley football program. I’m honored.”
Aaron, with tears in his eyes as he realized this was his last time on the field with his dad, managed to piece his memories together about the time they’ve had together on the football field and sharing his record-breaking moment with him.
“It’s bittersweet,” Aaron said. “It’s been a great three years with him. It’s been really fun, but to see this end like this, it’s a little tough. But I’m glad I got to do it with him.”
Penns Valley finished its season with a 10-2 record and the program’s first Mountain League title.
RICHLAND 49, PENNS VALLEY 21
(Friday at Richland)
Richland 7 21 7 14 – 49
Penns Valley 7 0 0 14 – 21
PV — Fisher 4 pass from Tobias (Aiden Spitler kick), 10:30
R — Trevor Tustin 5 run (Autumn Facci kick), 8:54
R — Kellen Stahl 12 fumble return (Facci kick), 10:08
R — Caleb Burke 89 pass from Stahl (Facci kick), 8:38
R — Koby Bailey 2 pass from Stahl (Facci kick), 0:00
R — Allen Mangus 3 run (Facci kick), 3:48
R — Mangus 20 run (Facci kick), 8:21
PV — Fisher 66 from Tobias (Spitler kick), 7:14
R — Lucas Sabol 5 run (Facci kick), 1:58
PV — Snyder 19 pass from Tobias (Spitler kick), 0:21
Top Rusher: R: Stahl 9-72. PV: Seth Baney 13-64.
Top Passer: R: Stahl 12-18-2 309. PV: Tobias 17-31-3-2 249.
Top Receiver: R: Burke 7-250-1. PV: Fisher 7-107-1.