Pymatuning Valley's running back led a 22-21 win over the Eagles.
By JIM FLICK
CANFIELD -- Thanks to a strong running game and a defense that held an explosive opponent under control, Pymatuning Valley defeated Youngstown Christian, 22-21, Saturday.
The Lakers' offense was led by senior running back Josh Brafford, who surpassed significant benchmarks in Saturday's game. He gained 162 yards, boosting his career rushing total past the 3,000-yard mark and his season total past the 1,000-yard mark. His career total is now 3,098 yards, including 1,108 this season.
Brafford scored both the first and last touchdowns Saturday for Pymatuning Valley (5-4, 5-1 East Suburban Conference), his final score coming on a 1-yard plunge in the third quarter for a 22-21 lead and the margin of victory.
But the last word in Saturday's game came from the Lakers' defense. With less than a minute to play and Youngstown Christian (6-3, 3-2) only 29 yards from the end zone, Lakers linebacker Clayton Kirby intercepted a pass.
"Our defense didn't play well in the first half," Pymatuning Valley coach Jason Root. "At halftime, we asked the defense to step up, and they did."
"They stopped us when we needed to move the ball," Youngstown Christian coach Eddy Witham said. "But, we stopped ourselves, too."
Brafford delivers early
In the first quarter, Brafford gave Pymatuning Valley an early lead when he burst up the middle and dashed 49 yards into the end zone. Anthony Dewey ran for a two-point conversion, giving the Lakers an 8-0 lead.
Youngstown Christian struck back early in the second quarter. Quarterback Randy Triplett tossed a 22-yard pass to wide receiver David Colbert to give the Eagles a first-and-goal on the 3-yard line. On the next play, Triplett plunged through the middle of line and scored a touchdown. Triplett also dove into the end zone on the extra point attempt to tie the score at 8.
Pymatuning Valley fumbled away the kickoff at its 35 and the Eagles quickly capitalized, scoring a touchdown when Eddie Gonda snagged a 5-yard pass from Triplett. This time, Gonda kicked an extra point to give the Youngstown Christian a 15-8 lead.
Pymatuning Valley struck next, scoring when Anthony Dewey faked his way past the Youngstown Christian defense and rambled 37 yards into the end zone. Brafford ran into end zone for a two-point conversion, giving the Lakers a 16-15 lead.
Eagles bounce back
Youngstown Christian struck back quickly. A scoring drive keyed by a 12-yard run by Triplett ended when the quarterback burst through the middle of the line and dashed 5 yards for a touchdown. A pass attempt failed to score an extra point conversion, but the Eagles led 21-16, a lead they held at halftime.
But it was the last time Youngstown Christian would cross the goal line.
Triplett completed 18-of-27 passes and ran 16 times for 103 yards.
Witham noted that the Eagles' offense was kissing a key player -- running back Toba Olarewaju, who was unable to play due to a sprained ankle suffered in last week's game.