There were a lot of ups-and-downs for the Pleasant Valley football team in its game with East Stroudsburg South on Friday night.
Fortunately for the Bears, they ended the game with three big 'ups' and came out on top of the Cavaliers.
On a night when Pleasant Valley let three potential touchdowns slip through its fingers, the Bears still clung to a four-point lead early in the fourth with South driving. It was then that a string of three plays helped propel the locals to the 21-10 Mountain Valley Conference victory.
On fourth-and-five at the PV 21-yard-line, the Bears' Mike Benner sacked South quarterback Tyler McLaughlin to put an end to the Cavs' 12-play drive. Three plays later on third-and-seven, Brandon Leap hit Tony Bell on a screen pass that went for 37 yards and completely switched field position. Two Austyn Borre runs later and Pleasant Valley found itself with an eleven point lead with less than eight minutes to go.
Following the kickoff and a five-yard procedure penalty, Pleasant Valley's Andrew Romeo made the play of the night. The senior went up for an errand McLaughlin pass and pulled it down with one hand for the interception. South would never see the ball again as the Bears ran out the remaining 7:29.
"The game was filled with so many peaks and valleys," said Pleasant Valley head coach Jim Terwilliger. "I kept preaching to sand down the peaks, cut down the valleys, play in between for 48 minutes, and we will be alright.
"I thought that stretch of time was wild, but our guys did a good job of keeping their focus and playing hard. They didn't waste a second."
The game couldn't have started out better for Pleasant Valley, as Borre returned the opening kickoff 84 yards for a touchdown. The freshman tailback also tallied 132 yards on 24 carries and was stuffed for negative yardage just three times on the night. His five-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth put the Bears up for good.
"I felt good when I got the ball and all the blocks were there," said Borre. "The only thing on my mind was getting into the end zone. It was our first return touchdown of the year and that's something I try to do every time I touch the ball.
"This win is huge. This win gets us that much closer to the MVC title. We just have to keep winning games and eventually we will get there."
Pleasant Valley had a few opportunities to get down on itself but refused to do so. Romeo made a great catch and run on fourth down right before halftime, but fumbled the ball into the end zone for a touchback. Borre had an eight-yard touchdown run called back on a hold early in the third. The Bears eventually turned it over on downs. Sekou Jones then had a pick-six called back on the very next possession due to a facemask. South would get a field goal on the drive.
Despite the bad fortunes, Terwillier was never worried about his team's psyche.
"It was easy to get them refocused," said Terwilliger. "The kids are very resilient. We have a great senior-led group with a lot of great people that have done it the right way. I really don't have to bring these guys back up. I don't have to tell them to keep their heads up. They know what they have to do."
Pleasant Valley held South tailback Niko Petrone in check all night. Coming off of two consecutive 200-yard games, Petrone totaled just 31 yards on 12 carries. His longest run of the night went for 13 yards.
The Bears stay perfect in the MVC at 5-0. They remain tied for first with East Stroudsburg North and Stroudsburg. The loss all but eliminates South from title contention.
Pleasant Valley will take on William Allen at home next week.
"Our guys have a good understanding that each game is just as important as the next," said Terwilliger. "I don't think there will be a spring-board effect. We will be ready for next week regardless."