DV defeats Hazleton in nerve-racking game

Milford. About 15 yards out, Hazleton went for one of their killer short passes. It was intercepted by Ryder Machado, who blasted down the sideline, outrunning everyone, and returned it for about a 95-yard touchdown.

| 16 Nov 2021 | 04:50

Congratulations to the Delaware Valley Football team. They have won their conference and now they are District 2/6A champs as well. Next up is State College at a site to be determined.

Delaware Valley defeated Hazleton at home by a score of 35-20. What a heart-stopping, nerve-racking game this was. Every team comes to town all hyped up and determined to win, but usually they lose heart as D.V. pounds out the ground game. D.V.’s stingy defense makes them begin to lose hope.

This was not the case with Hazleton. There was no let up on Hazelton, and they took it down to the wire. You might not think so by the score, but here are the details.

First off, D.V. is usually a grind-it-out, run-oriented team that keeps it honest with passes. They passed a little more then usual, necessary against an also tough defense by Hazleton.

Hazleton was more of a passing team, and they pretty much had their way with short passes. They also picked up additional yardage on the ground after the catches making those short passes count big time.

The long passes were a different story. Their receivers seemed to burn the D.V. defenders most of the time, but they dropped or missed many passes, or the throws were just a little off. They did, however, convert on enough to make some very big plays with big gains.

My perspective on passing is this: if you live by the pass, you can die by the interceptions, and that is exactly what happened. Conversely, if you live by the run, you can die by the fumbles. D.V. had no fumbles though. Mathew Buchman fumbled once for Hazleton, but he quickly recovered his own fumble. In the passing game Delaware Valley had four monster interceptions that resulted either in scores or crushed Hazleton drives.

Harlem Cook, who had a terrific game, came up with two interceptions that broke Hazleton’s back both times. Landon Machado also had a drive-stopping interception, as did Ryder Machado. More on the importance of Ryder’s interception in a moment.

Joe Sciascia, who is the power runner and work horse of this team, scored two touchdowns and had many important breakaway runs as well.

Paulie Weinrich also scored two touchdowns and is himself a terrific runner. He is the present and the future of this team.

C.J. Ross did a fine job as quarterback, and Everett Bell was perfect again at extra point kicks.

Bring on the drama

Here is why this game was so dramatic. At the end of the half, D.V. was up 14-13 in what looked to be a very equal and tight game. Then in the third period D.V. scored twice and had a 28-13 lead that was beginning to look comfortable. However, Hazleton scored quickly in the fourth period, making it 28-20.

Now a touchdown and two-point conversion could tie up the game. Hazleton found themselves with the ball late in the fourth and driving down field. It appeared to be stalled by D.V., but a down field pass saw D.V. called for pass interference, and life was breathed back into the Hazleton offence.

I was convinced that they were going to score, and I figured that they were going to get the two-point conversion as well. Momentum was on their side, and they seemed unstoppable at this point.

But about 15 yards out, they went for one of their killer short passes to about the 5-yard line. Ryder Machado intercepted the pass, which was enough to secure the game on its own. But he blasted down the sideline, outrunning everyone, and returned it for about a 95-yard touchdown for the final score of 35-20 in what was almost a tie game.

For Hazleton, Mathew Buchman, who is a big strong runner, was the work horse for their team. Tyler Wolfe is a fine quarterback who ran strong too. Connor Kundrack had a fine all-around game for them also.

D.V. is so well-balanced, with so many contributors, it is hard to pick out any one player. That being said, Harlem Cook, Joe Sciascia, Paulie Weinrich and both Ryder and Landon Machado stood out as having absolutely great games but the whole team had a part in this victory.

It is on to the states in what sure is a magical season for D.V. After three straight opening season losses, it looked like it was going to be a tough one.

No matter what happens next, this team has already done themselves proud.