SOUTH DAYTON - With both Cassadaga Valley and Pine Valley coming off Week 1 losses, Friday's non-league football matchup offered one of those teams a shot at redemption and a chance at a .500 record.
It was the Cougars who pounced at the opportunity as they ran wild over the Panthers in a 42-12 victory.
The Cougars received the opening kickoff and made their presence felt early. On the very first play from scrimmage, Nick Peterson took the ball up the middle for a 38-yard gain to set up Cassadaga Valley deep in its opponent's territory. From inside the 10 yard line, Zach Mower tried to punch the ball in for the score, but instead fumbled the ball in the end zone with the Panthers recovering for the touchback.
OBSERVER?Photo by Justin Goetz
Cassadaga’s Zach Mower heads for the end zone in front of Pine Valley’s Derrick Becker (77), during their non-league matchup at Pine Valley, on Friday night.
Pine Valley was able to pick up a first down, but failed to move the ball any further and turned the ball over on downs in its own end of the field. The Cougars set up shop at the Pine Valley 37-yard line and moved the ball to within striking distance. From there Mower would get a redo on his earlier scoring attempt, this time capitalizing with a 4-yard touchdown.
After a successful extra-point, the visitors found themselves with an early 7-0 lead. On the Panthers' next possession they were backed up deep in their own end and were forced to punt. However, a bad start turned even worse for the home team as the snap went over the punter's head. Once the ball was retrieved, a last second effort to throw the ball away resulted in an intentional grounding penalty and a turnover on downs. Cassadaga Valley took over on the one yard line.
It took just one play for Mower to power his way into the end zone for his second touchdown of the game. Pine Valley was able to block the extra point leaving the score 13-0 with 5:00 remaining in the first quarter. The Panthers' offense continued to struggle on the next possession as a fumbled ball led to a Cassadaga Valley touchdown when Eben Torres picked the ball up and took a single step into the end zone, which was followed by a two-point conversion to make the score 21-0.
"Our defense was outstanding," Cassadaga Valley coach Nick Spitzer said. "We did a great job containing and made some explosive tackles and created turnovers."
On the offensive side of the ball, the Cougars added one more touchdown before the first quarter was over. Mower did the dirty work down around the goal line once again to give Cassadaga Valley a 28-0 lead on his third touchdown of the game.
"Our running backs hit the holes our offensive line created for them," Spitzer said. "I think our backs would say that our line does a great job making those holes for them."
While Mower was racking up the touchdowns, it was Peterson who had provided the Cougars with a number of explosive plays. Another one of those explosive plays came early in the second quarter when Peterson reached paydirt from 87 yards out for a 35-0 Cougar lead.
While the game may have been beyond the Panthers reach early, fans saw a different team as the game progressed. Pine Valley began to rely heavily on its passing attack.
"Our original plan was to come out and set the tone with our running game," Pine Valley coach Ehrich Zollinger said. "But as the game went on we tried to air it out and found some success with that."
One of quarterback Dan Weaver's favorite targets early on was Bryce Jay who led the team in receiving with 49 yards and a touchdown. Despite a number of spot on throws, Weaver finished with two interceptions, both of which were taken away by Peterson.
Peterson also reached paydirt one more time for the Cougars in the third quarter to cap off a solid day on both sides of the ball. Peterson led all rushers with 169 yards and two touchdowns. The Panthers also saw Dylan Granger under center as the game wound down.
"It wasn't anything that Weaver did wrong," Zollinger said. "Dan was doing a good job running the ball for us at that point and I think it was more about what Dylan was doing right."
As the final seconds were ticking off the clock, Pine Valley capitalized on one more scoring opportunity when Granger hooked up with Kilian Abers for the score.
"It was good to find that we passed the ball well," Zollinger said. "We've been searching for an identity this whole time. We said from the beginning we were going to pass the ball more than average, but we really stepped it up in the passing game."
Abers finished with 37 yards receiving while Zach Sticek had 42 yards. Next up for Pine Valley is a trip to Panama, while the Cougars try to ride the momentum into a matchup with a tough Maple Grove team.