It’s Miller Time: Rams Dominate Appalachian Bowl to win 3rd Consecutive Title
Written by: Luke Rainey on Sunday, October 28th, 2018
Throughout the entire regular season, both the Ligonier Valley Rams and Shade Panthers have been more than dominant in their respective conferences. Even with a 28-man roster, the Panthers boasted an undefeated record heading into the 3rd annual Appalachian Bowl since the event was relaunched in 2016, and Ligonier Valley’s almighty size, speed, and strength have led the Rams to the same accomplishment. While Kyrie Miller had three fumbles in the first quarter, he was still the most valuable asset to the Rams, running for over 200 yards to set a school single-game rushing record to lead Ligonier Valley to their third consecutive Appalachian Bowl victory.
The Rams won the coin toss and deferred to Shade. On the Panthers’ first possession, Brady Fyfe either passed or scrambled on every play. The strategy was initially very promising, but the momentum was shattered after an illegal block in the back led to a punt. With Ligonier Valley trying to take control, Kyrie Miller received a handoff on the first snap and broke free, but fumbled after unsuccessfully switching the ball to his left hand. Shade took advantage of the mistake and recovered, and a 26-yard reception by Dawson Snyder carried the Panthers into the red zone. Instead of scoring, the Rams’ stout defense forced a sack and multiple incomplete passes for a turnover on downs. A 21-yard screen pass to Kyrie Miller followed by Aaron Tutino’s 44-yard receiving touchdown highlighted the Rams’ next drive, and a successful extra point gave Ligonier Valley a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.
Ligonier Valley did not mess around on Shade’s next possession, quickly holding the Panthers to a three-and-out. The first play for the Rams’ following series was appearing to be a touchdown for Kyrie Miller, but he lost control of the ball once more. Luckily for Ligonier Valley, they were able to maintain possession, and immediately after the fumble, Miller redeemed himself with a 19-yard rushing touchdown, allowing the Rams to expand their lead by an additional 7 points. Similar to their decision on the first drive of the game, Shade chose to attempt a 4th down conversion inside Ligonier’s territory, but the pass fell incomplete.
Miller was the leading force for the Rams on the next drive, methodically carrying Ligonier Valley downfield. He would have finished the series with a touchdown, but an offensive holding penalty erased the play. Instead, a few plays later, John Caldwell threw to Cage Dowden for an 8-yard sc
ore to increase their lead to 21-0 with 5 minutes remaining in the 2nd quarter. Shade’s inability to solidify a drive continued into their next series, punting after a bobbled snap at midfield. The Rams ran with Sam Sheeder for several plays during Ligonier Valley’s responding possession, and it was enough to drain the clock to 11 seconds once Dowden scored his 2nd touchdown. The extra point allowed the Rams to carry a 28-0 lead at halftime.
One of many touchdowns for Ligonier Valley in the Appalachian Bowl. This was a receiving touchdown by Cage Dowden midway through the 2nd quarter. pic.twitter.com/tVRf6vxlmT
— Luke_Rainey (@LukeRainey3) October 28, 2018
At the start of the 3rd Quarter, Ligonier Valley continued their offensive assault with another successful drive, as Miller scored his 2nd touchdown with a 1-yard run. A 35-0 lead prompted a mercy rule, but the Rams would keep their foot on the gas. On the first play of Shade’s drive, Matt Addleman fumbled on a reception, and the Rams recovered in the Panthers’ territory at the 35-yard line. The Rams could not score a touchdown on the following series, but opted to kick a field goal for the first time of the season with Peter Stoll. After the game, Head Coach Roger Beitel stated about the field goal, “On that drive, we were thinking that we wanted to get a field goal. Our play-calling was purposefully done that way.”
Shade’s struggles were not over, as before the offense had a chance to return to the field, a fumble on the kickoff gave the Rams another possession. At the end of the 3rd quarter, Beitel pulled his prominent players from the game to give his backup players experience, and Ayden Kelly was the first to make noise when he scored a 5-yard rushing touchdown early in the 4th quarter, making the score 45-0. Looking for anything positive to take away from the game, Shade meticulously worked through a drive of more than 10 plays and 68 yards to score a touchdown on a pass to Kaden Koleszarik, and followed with a successful 2-point attempt.
The final drive for the Rams consumed almo
st all of the time remaining, and 2 kneel downs by Shade after Ligonier Valley’s failed possession ended the game in favor of the Rams by a 45-8 score. Following his team’s 3rd consecutive Appalachian Bowl championship, Beitel said, “This is special because it’s the first one with this team. Those other teams were great teams, but that history was written. Now, these guys are making their own history.”
Also, Panthers Coach Don Fyfe, not to be confused with his son and quarterback, Brady Fyfe, acknowledged the difficulty of playing against the Rams. “Most of our mistakes were because we played a quality opponent. They were good, and they forced u
s into some of those mistakes. We did have some nice drives and we completed some balls, but got a couple penalties that just stopped drives.”
1st Quarter (2:42): LV – Aaron Tutino 44-yard Receiving TD (Stoll kick) – 7-0
1st Quarter (0:39): LV – Kyrie Miller 19-yard Rushing TD (Stoll Kick) – 14-0
2nd Quarter (5:04): LV – Cage Dowden 8-yard Receiving TD (Stoll kick) – 21-0
2nd Quarter (0:11): LV – Cage Dowden 3-yard Receiving TD (Stoll kick) – 28-0
3rd Quarter (10:00): LV – Kyrie Miller 1-yard Rushing TD (Stoll kick) – 35-0
3rd Quarter (2:43) LV – Peter Stoll 29-yard Field Goal – 38-0
4th Quarter (11:54) LV – Ayden Kelly 5-yard Rushing TD (Stoll kick) – 45-0
4th Quarter (6:53) S – Kaden Koleszarik 2-yard Receiving TD (Mauger pass from Fyfe)
PHOTO GALLERY Sykotyk
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