‘Jacks Rock Irish
The Valley Lumberjacks used a strong second period where they tallied 21 points to hold off a determined Bellaire St John to gain a hard-fought 39-21 victory, Oct. 8 in Bellaire, on St. John’s homecoming.
As period two began, the Valley offense went to work at their own 30 yard line. Senior tailback Casey Pingley capped off a nine-play, 70-yard drive with a five yard run to give his team a 6-0 lead on their first offensive series of the game.
After a short Lumberjack kickoff, the Irish marched down the field, picking up yardage on the ground, capping off its drive with a 26-yard pitch-and-catch to give St. John a 6-7 lead in the first period.
However, the Irish couldn’t stop the ‘Jacks, as the front line opened holes for Valley runningbacks Pingley, Jonathan Smallwood, Drew Wade, and Hunter Ring to gallop through all afternoon.
On the Lumberjacks’ next possession, they would march down the field, but St. John held tight. On a fourth and short, Smallwood blasted through for a new set of downs. A play later, he scored his first of three touchdowns, on the second play of the second quarter. Ring’s conversion pass to Ueltschy was true, giving Valley a 14-7 primacy in the game.
The Lumberjack defense, led by an Ueltschy 10-yard quarterback sack, forced the Irish to punt on its next series and start Valley’s series at midfield.
After a pair of nice runs by Smallwood and Pingley, Ring passed to the 6’4 Ueltschy, who out jumped his defender for a 30-yard gainer at the Irish 11 yard line.
After a one-yard loss, Smallwood took it to the house and extended Valley’s advantage to 21-7 after the Palmer kick sailed through the uprights to end the first half play.
After receiving the ball at midfield on the ensuing kick, Bellaire took it down to the 41 yard line.
However, a fourth down call went for naught, as the Lumberjack defense held its ground and took over at their own 41 yard line.
Valley went right to work and moved the ball down the field on a nice third-and-long end around by Wade. Ring aired one out to Ueltschy, but the St. John defender made an outstanding defensive play to stop the Lumberjack drive at the five yard line.
Two straight long gainers by the Irish started a drive that was ended when Ueltschy picked off an aerial. With a load of Irish on his back, Ueltschy moved it forward 10 more yards.
Ring connected with Pingley, who juked his way down the field and later capped off a short drive with a tantalizing 11-yard scamper to push the Lumberjack lead to 27-7 at the break.
After the halftime ceremonies, the Irish took the second half kick all the way down to the ‘Jacks’ one yard line, ending a perfect drive with a one-yard run to narrow the gap to 27-14.
Smallwood returned the ensuing kick to the ‘Jack 35 yard line and it wouldn’t take Valley long to regain the momentum. After a nice Pingley run, the ‘Jacks’ big man, Spencer Mason, picked up a loose ball and gained four yards before being brought down by a host of Irish defenders.
A few plays later, Pingley shrugged of numerous Irish tacklers with a nice 40-yard TD run to put the Lumberjacks on top 33-14.
St. John would score once more in the third period on a 17-yard run and Smallwood would finish all scoring with a one-yard plunge to give Valley a 39-21 victory.
Valley controlled the ground game with 62 rushes for 300 yards and six touchdowns, led by Pingley’s 167 yards and three touchdowns. Smallwood added 98 yards, while Wade tacked on 79 yards. Mason, Ring, Donald Smith, Taylor Bates, Tristen Kocher, and Daniel Sell each toted the ball for positive yardage for the Lumberjacks. Ring hit Ueltschy, Pingley, and Wade for a total 73 yards in the air.
The Lumberjacks moved the chains 18 times to 13 for Bellaire. Kocher had one punt for 59 yards, while Ueltschy recorded 15 tackles, one sack, and intercepted a pass to lead the ‘Jack defense. Luke Martin flattened seven Fighting Irish ball carriers.
Valley will host the Frontier Local Cougars on Lumberjack Senior Night, Friday, Oct. 14, with the seniors of all fall sports to be recognized before the game. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.