On the game’s opening kick-off, a 23-yard return by Western Beaver’s Mikey Crawford was followed by a late hit personal foul penalty that set them up in phenomenal field position at the Steel Valley 32. Utilizing the great field position, Western Beaver was able to drive down the field and score on a five-yard touchdown pass from Jaivin Peel to Mikey Crawford. The extra point attempt was blocked, though, and Western Beaver led 6-0 early.
Steel Valley’s Donald Barksdale had a 60-yard kick return that set up Steel Valley at the Western Beaver 32 on the ensuing possession. The Western Beaver held at the start, but a fourth down run by Barksdale extended the game’s second drive. Barksdale not only had the fourth down conversion and long kick return but also every single yard on Steel Valley’s 32-yard touchdown drive. The extra point attempt by AJ Karstetter was good, and Steel Valley took a 7-6 lead with about four minutes left in the first quarter.
That lead was short-lived, though, as a 73-yard touchdown pass on the third play of the next drive from Peel to Dorian McGhee gave Western Beaver the lead back immediately. The two-point conversion attempt failed, but Western Beaver now led 12-7, approaching the end of the first quarter.
An interception by Steel Valley’s Cay’son Simpkins set the Ironmen up at their own 33 yard-line for their first drive of the second quarter. On the second play of that drive, quarterback Tyson Barron found Carlos Scott for a 67-yard touchdown pass. With Kastetter converting the extra point, Steel Valley went up 14-12 and that was where the score sat heading into halftime.
The third quarter did not start out as explosive as the first one did, with an offensive drive stalling for Steel Valley due to several penalties followed by a three-and-out from Western Beaver. However, it did end up that way. Starting with Barksdale who broke off a 43-yard touchdown run to extend the Steel Valley lead to nine at 21-12. That was immediately answered by Peel and Crawford connecting on a 59-yard touchdown pass. Another failed extra point attempt though made it a three-point game at 21-18 and that was the score as the game entered it’s final quarter.
Both teams struggled offensively for much of the fourth quarter and the game came down to the final two minutes. After stopping Steel Valley on a fourth down run with about two minutes left, Western Beaver took over down just three at 21-18. On their drive, a hail mary pass was intercepted by Barksdale to end the game at 21-18 Steel Valley.
Steel Valley moves on to face Mohawk in the WPIAL 2A semifinals. That game will be played at a neutral site next Friday with the winner heading to Acrisure Stadium for the WPIAL 2A Championship.