MOOSIC — Abington Heights scored 13 unanswered points in the second half, but fell short, losing 14-13 to Valley View, in the RailRiders Bowl Saturday at PNC Field.
Valley View’s Nasir Smith set up the Cougars’ first score by blocking a punt with seven minutes left in the first quarter. Five plays later, Scot Wasilchak, who finished with 61 yards on 24 carries, ran for a 6-yard touchdown after a 20-yard completion from Mitch McHale to Evan Carey.
“We practiced the play all week,” Smith said. “The middle was wide open and I just went for the block.”
A big play by Valley View’s defense led to the second touchdown of the game. Linebacker Brandon Brzenski intercepted a Jordan Hollander pass and returned the ball to the Abington Heights’ 22-yard line. McHale scored on a 3-yard run, six plays later, and Kyle Barrett converted his second extra point to give the Cougars a 14-0 lead with 5:23 remaining in the second quarter.
After being limited to 48 yards in the first half, Abington Heights gained 72 on its first two possessions of the second half and cut the deficit to seven points with 5:21 left in the third quarter when Hollander connected with Matthan Sherman for a 29-yard touchdown and Ben Vale made the extra point.
“I’m extremely proud of this team,” Abington Heights head coach Joe Repshis said. “Each and every week, they play with great determination and resiliency. People stepped up in situations and gave us an opportunity to win the football game.”
The Comets held Valley View to 51 total yards during their next three drives and Hollander, who completed 9 of 18 passes for 145 yards, found Nick Emmett for a 50-yard completion on a 3rd-and-25 play from the Abington Heights’ 36-yard line. Rheyse Green, who gained 86 yards on 21 carries, ran 14 yards for a touchdown on the next play.
With several players, including kicker Colin McCreary, out of the game due to injuries, Repshis tried a two-point conversation attempt trailing by one point with 2:15 remaining in the game.
Green attempted to get to the edge of the Cougars’ defense, but Howie Babcock and Smith combined to bring him down short of the end zone.
“It’s about believing and we decided, at that point in time, we had the momentum,” Repshis said. “We thought we could catch them on their heels. Even if we didn’t convert, we felt we could still get the ball back to give ourselves another opportunity.”
Abington Heights (3-3, 1-2 Lackawanna Football Conference Div. 1) got that opportunity by limiting Valley View (5-1, 2-1 LFC Div. 1) to five yards on the ensuing possession, forcing a punt.
Hollander hit Sherman for a 40-yard completion to move the ball to the Cougars’ 22-yard line but, after losing two yards on third down, Comets’ kicker Ben Vale lined up for a 41-yard field goal attempt that fell well short.
“We made a lot of mistakes in the second half,” Valley View head coach George Howanitz said. “We had some dumb penalties and gave them some big plays. We try to preach finishing and I thought we did a pretty decent job of that (tonight). We let them get down in our territory too much, but we made big plays when we had to.”
Abington Heights will travel to play Scranton Prep in a Lackawanna Football Conference Division 1 game at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday at Scranton Memorial Stadium.
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.