PITTSBURGH — Kent State recruit Cruce Brookins had been leading Steel Valley (12-0) all season, and when they got to the big stage of the 2A WPIAL championship, the star athlete seized the moment. Brookins ran for over 150 yards, posted three touchdowns, and an interception on defense in a Steel Valley 34-14 win over Beaver Falls, giving the Ironmen their first WPIAL championship since 2018.
Brookins took two plays, and about a minute of game time before he started to put his stamp on the championship game. The quarterback took a draw to the outside and ripped off a 56-yard touchdown run.
Steel Valley took a lead, but Beaver Falls was quick to respond. A huge fourth-down pass interference gave them extended life on a drive that ended in a touchdown. Two plays after the key penalty Jaren Brickner hit Trey Singleton along the sidelines. Singleton shrugged off one tackle, kept his feet inbounds, then walked into the end zone for a 24-yard score. Beaver Falls converted a two-point conversion while Steel Valley missed an extra point, which gave Beaver Falls an 8-6 lead.
Brookins was not going to slow down, though. He took the second play of the ensuing drive 53-yard to the house and put his team right back on top, 13-8.
Beaver Falls got the football, but instead of turning this into a back-and-forth affair, they saw an errant pass get intercepted by Donald Barksdale. Barksdale had nothing but grass in front of him, and just like the game swung 20-8 in favor of Steel Valley.
The Tigers Falls responded well, but a deep pass near the end zone was picked off Brookins, sealing the halftime lead.
Beaver Falls got the ball to start the half and capitalized on what felt like a must-score drive. The team rode Brickner with his legs, and then punched it in with Da’talian Beauford scoring from four yards out to make it 20-14. Still, once again, they saw Steel Valley immediately respond.
Da’ron Barksdale had a huge kickoff return that gave Steel Vally excellent field position. Brookins went to work from there. He needed just two carries to go 21 yards, including a 5-yard score to cap the drive off and give the Ironmen a 27-14 lead.
Beaver Falls had a chance to make it a game and had the ball inside the 20 after a blocked punt. However, Brendan Snyder pressured the quarterback, he fumbled, and the ball bounced into the arms of Terrin Beaty, causing a huge turnover. This allowed Steel Valley to kill some clock, as well as all of the BF timeouts. At that point, any chance of a comeback was fruitless.
Lastly, Donald Barksdale went 56 yards as the game was about to be put away, making the final score 34-14.
Steel Valley will take on the winner Westinghouse vs. Farrell next week in the PIAA semifinals.