By Rob Potter
KINGSTON November 7, 2000 Tri-Valleys goal of winning a second straight Section IX Class D football championship fell short on Sunday afternoon.
Millbrook (81) used a second half scoring surge to post a 25-6 victory over the Bears in the Class D title tilt at Dietz Stadium in Kingston. The Blazers will face Section I champion Haldane this Saturday at Dietz in a state quarterfinal game.
Things started out well enough for Tri-Valley (37). On the third offensive play of the game for Millbrook, Bear linebacker Durk Pearston picked off a pass by Blazer quarterback Quinn Shaw. Pearston then dodged a couple of would-be tacklers and scampered down the sideline for a 48-yard touchdown.
Although Pearstons PAT kick was wide left, the Bears had a 6-0 lead with 8:13 left in the opening quarter.
Unfortunately for the Bears and their fans who cheered loudly following the touchdown, every other time the scoreboard operator had to put a new number on the board in the contest it was the Millbrook score that increased.
Millbrook answered the Pearston score late in the second quarter. On a second and goal play from the T-V 1, halfback Trevor Shaw plunged into the end zone. The kick was no good and the score stood at 6-6 with only 21 seconds until the halftime break.
The Blazers almost had another touchdown seconds later when Trevor Shaw recovered a fumble on the subsequent kickoff. He pounced on the ball at the Tri-Valley 24 to give his team another shot at the end zone with 11 seconds left in the half.
Although a pass from Quinn Shaw to Anthony Cillis set up Millbrook at the 1, the Blazers could not get another play off before the clock hit 0:00.
Quinn Shaw and Cillis hooked up on a touchdown toss with 5:59 remaining in the third quarter to give the Blazers a 12-6 lead.
After partially blocking a T-V punt after the Bears went three-and-out on their next possession, Millbrook scored again. The Blazers took over at the T-V 31 and five plays later Quinn Shaw hit Perry Owens with a 13-yard scoring strike for an 18-6 lead. (As it had done following the other Millbrook third quarter touchdown, the Bear defense prevented the Blazers from tacking on the two-point conversion.)
Millbrook halfback Billy Martini, who carried the ball 14 times for 112 yards and was named the games Most Valuable Offensive Player, scored on a gritty seven-yard run with 57 seconds left to cap the scoring.
We played inspired defense today, Tri-Valley coach Max Stolzenberg said. But offensively we couldnt solve the problems they presented for us. I didnt have the key to get our offensive engine going.
The Millbrook defense forced six Tri-Valley punts and tackled quarterback Josh Lowitz and other Bear runners right at or behind the line of scrimmage on a number of occasions.
They stuck it to us in the first half, Millbrook coach Denny Riva said. They played tough defense and outplayed us.
Riva, who said the Bears have a lot of class and gave his team two of its toughest games all season, noted that his team came out fired up in the second half. That spirit and substitutions were keys to the second half surge.
We have a lot of depth, Riva said. I think we have more depth than Tri-Valley does. I think we wore them down.
For his interception return and the 14 tackles he made, Pearston was named the Defensive Most Valuable Player of the game.
Obviously the loss was not how Pearston and fellow seniors Alex Felder, Josh Lowitz and Ryan Milk wanted to end their T-V gridiron experiences. (Fellow seniors Corey Dowe and Bill Gorman were injured and did not play in the game.)
It just wasnt our day, Stolzenberg concluded.