Quaker Valley Quarterback Burke Moser wears size 15 shoes, but he isn’t expected to use those big feet to score touchdowns. But in the QV opener at South Park last night, he did just that.
The Quakers overcame a 190-yard rushing performance from Jared Becker when Moser found the end zone with just 30 seconds remaining to give Quaker Valley the win.
South Park dominated the first three quarters of the game, and took a 17-0 lead into the final quarter before QV found it’s rhythm offensively and completed the best comeback in the Quakers recent history. And they did it against a good South Park team that will likely figure in the Century Conference playoff picture.
QV Coach John Tortorea was happy with the performance.
“The players took a big step in building the program tonight," he said. "They are learning how to win close games.”
South Park gained an advantage in the first half with a consistent running game that dominated the line of scrimmage, with Becker scoring from 13 yards out in the first quarter to put the Eagles up 7-0 after one quarter. Quaker Valley had an opportunity to score when Moser hit Chris Conlan for a 35-yard completion to the Eagle five yard line, but QV couldn’t get in the end zone on four tries.
Twice in the second quarter South Park threatened to score, but both times Quaker Valley caused turnovers that helped them to dodge the bullet. First on a Becker fumble that was recovered by Twe’won Marshall, and next on a pass that was intercepted by Moser, who also plays defensive back.
After the Eagles added a field goal and a second touchdown on another Becker run, the Quakers found themselves starting the final quarter looking at a 17-0 deficit.
The QV offense got hot just in time. Receiver Dane Jackson started the fourth quarter by taking a handoff around end and instead of running, lofted a 38-yard pass that was collected by Marshall. That set up an eventual four yard TD pass from Moser to Jackson that drew the game to 17-6. After a series of South Park mistakes, QV got the ball at the Eagle 28 and quickly drove for a score, capped by a 1-yard QB sneak by Moser to draw the score to 17-12. The two point conversion failed.
After a stout Quaker defensive stand, South Park punted and the stage was set. QV had the ball on their own 20-yard line with four minutes to play. Moser said that the team was confident that they were going to win when they got the ball back.
“As the fourth quarter progressed, we started to believe that we were going to win. And honestly, South Park started to believe it, too," Moser said. "We could all see it in their body language. We knew it was our game to win at that point.”
Conlan added, “I’m proud of how we came back. Even down 17-0, I think we all believed that we weren’t going to lose that football game.”
QV marched down the field with a steady diet of crossing patterns to the three sophomore receivers, Jackson, Marshall and Conlan. Conlan finished with 63 yards receiving, Jackson had 57, and Marshall had 49. Moser didn’t take a single sack all night with stellar protection from the QV front four: Rocco Brown, Marcus Coury, Matt O’Neill and Sebastian Gordon. The experience and improvement of the offensive line was a big factor, especially in the fourth quarter.
When Moser hit Marshall on a 13-yard crossing pattern to the South Park six yard line, QV called a timeout to discuss strategy. With 30 seconds to play and two timeouts, the coaching staff decided to run. And QV Offensive Coordinator Brandon Thurber called a play that he hasn’t called once in Moser’s two years as a starter: QB misdirection run. After Moser faked the end around to Jackson, he turned and darted six yards untouched for the winning score.
“We’ve had that play in the playbook for two years," Tortorea said. "I guess you could say we spent two years setting it up.”
After Marshall collected a Moser pass for the two point conversion to make the score 20-17, Jake Trovato sealed the win by intercepting on South Park’s second play from scrimmage after the score.
Quaker Valley will play South Allegheny in their home opener on Friday, Sept. 7 at Chuck Knox Stadium. Kickoff is 7:30 pm.