Bears keep hopes alive
nancy scholz/times news Pleasant Valley's Austyn Borre breaks loose for a nice gain against Stroudsburg.
STROUDSBURG - Most, if not all, of the players on the Pleasant Valley football team weren't even born the last time the program won a District 11 playoff game.
The Bears' head coach, Jim Terwilliger, was just in grade school at the time.
However, Saturday night in Stroudsburg, Terwilliger and his team got to experience the feeling first-hand.
In a game that played out in almost the exact opposite way of last week's regular-season finale, Pleasant Valley upset Stroudsburg in the District 11 AAAA quarterfinals 24-21. Jordan Caffrey connected on a 28-yard field goal with just over three minutes remaining to win the game for the Bears. It is the program's first district playoff win since 1994.
"It was a great football game," said Terwilliger. "It was played by two great teams and was well played on both ends. We were able to come out late with a Jordan Caffrey field goal.
"I am just extremely proud of the way the guys fought for four quarters and didn't hang their heads when things got bad. They never let their highs get too high and their lows get too low."
Much like last week, one of these teams jumped out to a two-touchdown lead in the first half. However, unlike last week, it was PV that took the advantage.
The Bears scored on their first possession of the game when Terwilliger called for a flea-flicker. Austyn Borre took the hand off, flipped the ball back to Brandon Leap, who then chucked the ball downfield to Andrew Romeo for a 53-yard touchdown. With just over two minutes gone the locals had a 7-0 lead.
After Stroudsburg put together a monster drive in the second quarter in which it went 78 yards in just eight plays to tie the game, Leap and his teammates answered. Leap hit Sekou Jones on a quick slant, who then broke some tackles and took it 70 yards down to the Mountie four-yard-line. Two plays later Leap leapt in from three yards out to give his team another lead.
The junior led another scoring charge right before halftime. Pleasant Valley went 50 yards in eight plays with Josh Thornton plunging in from one yard out to make it 21-7 at the break.
"Everyone thought this was a revenge game," said Leap, who finished with 247 total yards. "In reality, we just wanted to come out and win a district football game. This is the biggest stage I have played on and the biggest stage most of us have played on. We just wanted to come out and win."
Things began to turn against the Bears in the third quarter as Stroudsburg scored on each of its first two possessions. The situation got even more hairy midway through the fourth when the Mounties started driving. The Mounties were in the midst of a ten-play drive when Mike Nikorak hit Donovan McDonald for what appeared to be another first down.
That was when the game-changing play happened. Pleasant Valley linebacker Dakota Everett laid a crushing blow on McDonald just as his feet hit the ground and forced a fumble. Romeo jumped on the loose ball and with it grabbed all of the momentum.
The Bears then moved the ball down to the Stroudsburg 11-yard-line. It was there that Caffrey nailed a 28-yard field goal with 3:12 remaining to give his team a 24-21 lead.
Stroudsburg quickly picked up a first down on its first play, but was later faced with a third-and-five with just over a minute and a half left. Nikorak threw over the middle and was picked off by Jones to essentially seal the deal for PV.
"I just dropped deep in my zone and checked behind me," said Jones. "I saw the receiver in my zone and just made a play.
"This feels great. We would have liked to win last week and not play this team again, but with how it went last week we knew we were going to win this game."
Pleasant Valley advances to play at Parkland Friday. But the Bears weren't concerned with that game yet.
"This is a huge step for our program," said Terwilliger. "You talk about taking incremental steps and doing things the right way, but to be honest with you this was no secret to the kids. They expected to come out and win this game. They worked their tails off and did the little things that had to be done and it was a great night for our program."