STROUDSBURG - As Stroudsburg's last-second field goal split the up-rights, Pleasant Valley's quest for the out-right Mountain Valley Conference title came to a crashing end.
The Mounties' Jordon Ellison connected on a 34-yard field goal with five seconds remaining to give his team the 23-21 upset victory. Leading 21-6 heading into the break, Pleasant Valley struggled to find any sort of offense in the second half. The Bears went three-and-out on their first three possessions and didn't record a first down until less than six minutes remained.
Pleasant Valley fumbled with just over two minutes remaining and that, along with some questionable calls from the referees, allowed Stroudsburg to move down the field and kick the eventual game-winning field goal.
"I have to tip my hat to Stroudsburg," said Pleasant Valley head coach Jim Terwilliger. "They played a tremendous game. The played a physical game on both sides of the ball.
"This game wasn't won or lost on one play. Stroudsburg came out and played a great second half. I have to give my respects to Coach Ross and the Mountaineers. They took it to us in the second half."
After totaling 278 total yards in the first half, Pleasant Valley managed to gain just 72 yards after halftime. Fifty-eight of those yards came on the Bears' last drive of the game when they tried to run out the clock. Unfortunately, that is when the calls started to go against them.
On first down at the Mounties' 13-yard-line, Dekimbe Smith took a handoff and was tackled after picking up a yard. The ball came loose after his knee appeared to be down and the line judge ruled the play dead. However, after a discussion, the head referee over-ruled the call and gave the ball to Stroudsburg with two minutes to go.
Six plays later on third-and-six, Stroudsburg quarterback Rob Bennie threw up a prayer that fell into receiver Trevor Leh's hands for a 46-yard gain. But, as Leh fell to the ground, the ball came loose and bounced out of play. Not having realized the ball bounced away, the referee ruled the play a catch at the Bears' 23. The call allowed Ellison to kick the game-winner three plays later.
"When it rains it pours," Terwilliger said. "I can sit here all night and complain about things that I can't control. There were some iffy calls, but that's football. You play and hope they go your way. When they don't you have to keep playing.
"None of those calls lost the football game. It comes down to playing a full four quarters. We didn't lose four quarters of calls. There were some tough ones down the stretch, but that's the way football is. You have to deal with the good and the bad."
Despite the loss and having already defeated East Stroudsburg South, Pleasant Valley will now split the MVC title with the Cavaliers as each team ended the year with one conference loss.
After the game the Bears wanted nothing to do with the MVC trophy, as they let it set in a box on the turf as they walked off the field.
"It certainly is discouraging," said Terwilliger. "Our guys really wanted to play for an undisputed championship. It just wasn't in the cards for us. We weren't going to show up tonight and be handed a trophy. The bottom line is you have to play. And Stroudsburg made the plays tonight."