WILKINSBURG, Pa.—The Steel Valley Ironmen defeated the Imani Christian Academy Saints 17-6 on Friday, September 17.
The Ironmen, who won a WPIAL championship last season, ran the football with authority in the first half, aided by ugly penalties from Imani. The Saints tightened up in the second half, but they couldn’t dig themselves out of the hole they dug.
After their defense forced a three-and-out to open the game, the Ironmen ate up most of the first quarter with a methodical drive. Imani backed Steel Valley into a third-and-19 to begin the series, but a pass interference penalty gave the Ironmen new life.
The Ironmen capitalized on the gift, taking a 7-0 lead with an eight-yard touchdown run from backup quarterback Donald Barksdale, who bounced off three tackle attempts on the play.
Imani’s quarterback tried to throw the ball away to evade a sack in the second, but the pass ended up going backwards as he spun away from the crashing Ironmen. Steel Valley defensive lineman Lavon Gray scooped up the accidental lateral and took it into the endzone to make it 17-0.
The Saints broke up the shutout in the third quarter with an eight-yard run from quarterback Steve Vandiver. Imani went deep into Ironmen territory on their next drive, but turned the ball over on downs when Steel Valley chased Vandiver out of bounds.
Imani recovered a pair of fumbles in Steel Valley territory in the fourth quarter, but the Ironmen’s defense held strong. A strip sack on third down ended the first rally: Imani recovered the fumble, but couldn’t make the line to gain after a massive loss. Penalties and blown up plays ended the second rally, as Imani punted facing fourth-and-50.
Imani got the ball back inside two minutes, but ran out of time.
Imani (2-2) will head to McKeesport to take on Serra Catholic on Friday, September 22. Steel Valley (2-1) will host Ligonier Valley that same day.