By Rob Potter
GRAHAMSVILLE October 31, 2000 Tri-Valley earned its fifth straight trip to the Section IX Class D championship game at Dietz Stadium with a thrilling overtime win over visiting Livingston Manor Saturday afternoon.
Tri-Valley fullback Durk Pearston bulled his way into the end zone on a two-point conversion play on the Bears overtime possession to give the hosts a 22-21 win over Manor.
With the win, Tri-Valley (36, 21 Class D) clinched a spot in the Class D title game versus Millbrook (81, 30 Class D). Kickoff for the championship contest is set for 2 p.m. Sunday at Dietz Stadium in Kingston.
Pearstons conversion run came just seconds after his 12-yard run up the gut of the Manor defense pulled Tri-Valley to within 21-20.
The overtime was necessary after T-Vs Arthur Felder who rushed for a game-high 110 yards on 17 carries and recorded the first Bear touchdown on a five-yard run in the second quarter scored on a five-yard touchdown run with 53 ticks left on the fourth quarter clock. Bear quarterback Josh Lowitz then dove into the end zone for the two-point conversion to knot the score at 14.
Manor (27, 03 Class D), however, had one last chance to win the game in regulation. With seven seconds on the clock, Wildcat fullback/kicker/punter Scott Denman lined up to kick a 30-yard field goal. But Pearston managed to leap up and get a hand on it, which sent the pigskin back to the turf short of the uprights. (Due to a complex tie-breaker system, however, Manor would have needed to defeat T-V by 13 or more points in order to secure a spot in the Class D title tilt.)
Under state high school overtime rules, each team gets one possession at the 20 yard-line. The squad has four downs to either score or make another first down.
Manor had the first crack at the end zone in the extra period. Following an eight-yard run by Travis Morton and two-yard gain by Denman, Morton scored on a 10-yard reverse play to put the Wildcats back on top 20-14. Denman then kicked the PAT to make it a seven point ball game.
It was a heart-stopper, T-V coach Max Stolzenberg said. That was an unbelievable game.
While his offense had crucial scores late in the fourth quarter and in overtime, Stolzenberg also gave his defense a great deal of praise. In the first quarter, Manor had three possessions deep in T-V territory but could only score seven points.
The defense played great, Stolzenberg noted. They were inside our 30 often in that first quarter and we held them to one touchdown. That was just a tremendous job by our defense.
Ironically, the Wildcats capitalized on a Tri-Valley miscue deep in the Bear end of the field in the games first three minutes. A botched snap on a punt set up Manor at the Tri-Valley 14 yard-line and four plays later Denman scored on a one-yard plunge for a 6-0 advantage. But those other Manor first-quarter possessions ended in a quarterback sack at the three-yard line on a fourth down play and a missed field goal.
We had those opportunities to score and we didnt, Manor coach Scott Branning said.
Branning also noted that injuries have depleted his substitute ranks all season.
I was standing here thinking no overtime, anything but overtime, Branning said. Our guys were getting really tired at the end.
Despite the injuries, which forced Manor to forfeit one game due to a lack of enough healthy players and kept the squad dangerously close to falling below the minimum number of players requirement in other weeks, Branning found somewhat of a silver lining.
We did the best we could and made it through the season, he said. We didnt want to lose today, but we did all we could do.
Stolzenberg, meanwhile, is happy to be going to Dietz. But he knows his team must improve against Millbrook, which defeated the Bears 21-0 back on September 2.
We had better retool a bit, he explained. We need to control the ball better. We only had a few minutes of good offensive football today.