Week 10 downfall for the Raiders

NEW BETHLEHEM — Two quick second-quarter touchdowns for Redbank Valley were difficult for the Brookville Raiders to combat Friday night, and they fell 20-7 in the final week of the regular season.

"It was extremely disappointing," Raiders head coach Chris Dworek said. "All the positive things we did the last few weeks, and to end Week 10 like this is just disappointing."

Dworek had been adamant that he wanted to end the season with three consecutive wins after coming off two wins — against Clarion Oct. 21 and against Punxsutawney last Friday. He said he wanted the extra energy and push to thrust the Raiders into the playoffs.

"(We needed) momentum against a good team, a physical team," Dworek said. "We've played physical teams how many weeks in a row? So disappointing is the main word for everybody on the whole team."

The Raiders struggled early and did not earn a first down for the entire first quarter.

Although Brookville held the Bulldogs to zero points during the first quarter, it did not take long in the second for Redbank to find the endzone.

The Bulldogs' final play of the first quarter was a 34-yard run by Mark Strothers to take Redbank to the one-yard line at the beginning of the second. On the ensuing play, Kyle Lee ran in the one-yard score, and kicker Zane Watson put the Bulldogs up seven.

Brookville's Cam Yard had a nice return to start the Raiders at their own 24-yard line, but Steven Kennedy made a costly error, fumbling the ball. Redbank's Dominic Ernst recovered, putting his team just eight yards from the end zone.

An illegal shift penalty pushed the Bulldogs back five yards, but it did not matter, as Lee ran in his second touchdown of the night. The Bulldogs had scored two touchdowns in less than 30 seconds, and with 11:30 left in the second quarter, they led by 14.

"You think you're still in it at 7-0, then to give them a short field after a turnover, after a mental mistake by people on the offense, that's pretty bad," Dworek said. "(We) have a lot of experience out there on offense, running the simple play we've been doing since junior high, and to mess it up was pretty poor."

The Raiders earned their first first down of the night when Jordan Young faked a punt and ran the ball 15 yards into Bulldog territory.

Brookville capitalized on the opportunity, and sophomore Zach Vroman scored a seven-yarder, and kicker Yard put the game within seven.

But Brookville struggled throughout the rest of the second quarter, earning only one other first down when the offense succeeded at a trick play. Kennedy pitched the ball back to Yard, who threw a 24-yard completion to Brock Bietz. But Brookville was unable to take advantage this time, and the score was notched at 14-7 heading into halftime.

Redbank once again came out strong in the second half, scoring on its first possession of the third quarter. Brookville gave up a big play to Lee, and he ran the distance for a 40-yard score. The Raiders' have given up several big plays throughout the season, which have often resulted in touchdowns.

"We're just not focusing right, not executing one more step," Dworek said. "(We had) penalties again and turnovers again — the same bad theme all year."

Brookville played well on its first drive of the second half, but when it found itself in a fourth-and-three situation, Kennedy came up just short of the marker.

The Raiders then worked their way into Redbank territory once more in the fourth quarter, a 17-play drive which took the Raiders to the Bulldog 19-yard line. On fourth-and-sixteen, the Raiders tried another trick play, but this time, they were seven yards shy of the first down.

Brookville held the Bulldogs during their ensuing drive, but when the Raiders received the ball back with three minutes left on the clock, they were unable to find any momentum, and the game ended in Redbank's favor.

Dworek said he was dissatisfied with the way the Raiders played from the opening kickoff, especially after winning two in a row.

"Especially early, we had a chance to make big plays, and we didn't," Dworek said. "We dropped passes and missed blocks. ... Plays on offense were there that, for whatever reason, we just didn't make them."

He was also upset with the way his defense played, giving up several big plays and being unable to stop the Bulldogs when it mattered most.

"Our fourth down defense was a big balloon deflator," he said. "Those are chance to stop them in their territory or get the ball back, and we didn't do it."

The Raiders (5-5) have qualified for the playoffs, seeded third overall in District IX Class AA, but with the play of the Raiders Friday night, Dworek said he is unsure if they will make the trip.

"We're going to meet (today) at 10," he said. "I told them to think a lot about football, and I'll see them in the morning. That's all I said. I didn't want to yell or scream or anything, because that's no good."

At the meeting today, the Raiders will make their final decision about their run in the District IX playoffs.