Nov. 20—MECHANICVILLE — A team historically known as a ground and pound team, got a taste of its own medicine, Saturday.
In the 28-20 Class D regional final defeat to Stillwater, Moriah only gained 13 yards on 14 carries. The Warriors, however, gained 231 on 58 attempts.
"Their size kind of overwhelmed our guys a little bit," Moriah head coach Casey Nephew said. "They kind of took us off what we wanted to do, which was establish the run and play our game with ball control.
"It's hard to score points when you don't get the ball and they did a good job of keeping our offense off the field. Sometimes the best defense is a good offense."
Stillwater used its size difference to maintain a 97-yard drive that lasted almost the entire second quarter to extend their lead to 14-6. The Vikings only touched the ball three times that period.
With the Warriors getting the ball to start the second half, the Vikings could have tossed in the towel as the lead felt greater than eight points.
True to Moriah, they didn't just make a run but they roared back into the game.
"Moriah historically has had some pretty pretty tough kids and this group especially just did not want to quit," Nephew said. "The coaching staff and I have kind of seen that in a little bit of adversity that we have had this year.
"We've kind of seen that drive in that refuse to lose kind of attitude. Sometimes you come out on top, sometimes you don't. It's the way you want to play the game."
While Moriah had little success establishing the run game, Joe Pelkey went to work through the air. On the day, he completed 10 of 21 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns.
All but 20 yards went to Dieter Olcott who went for 195 yards and both touchdowns.
"I think part of it is that Joe trusts Dieter and Cooper (Allen)," Nephew said. "They were doubling over the top with Cooper so that left a mismatch.
"Dieter had an injury that he suffered earlier this year and he's worked his butt off to get back. and Joe trusts his line and they did a pretty good job pass protection for the most part today."
The rally would come up short when Moriah had all the momentum.
With 4:34 remaining in the game, the score 21-20 and the Vikings just recovering an onside kick, everything looked set for Moriah's first lead in the game.
But, the Warriors would rip the momentum away in one miscalculation.
On third and nine, Pelkey dropped back after a play action and tossed the ball towards the right side of the field. Stillwater's Thomas Mcdonough would step in front of the pass and return it 63 yards to the end zone.
The Warriors took a 28-20 lead and closed the door on a comeback.
"We called a play-action pass, and there was a little bit of pressure up the middle, and they basically left the kid open and kind of baited Joe," Nephew said. "I think with the pressure in his face, he couldn't see it and saw what he thought was an open receiver.
"You know, NFL guys do it. It's part of the game. Unfortunately, it happened to us today."
While the loss stings and it closes the year on another successful campaign for the Vikings. Moriah finished the year 7-3, claiming the Class D sectional championship in Nephew's first year at the helm.
"I had a great time working with these guys," Nephew said. "I love these guys. They're a great group of kids and I miss the seniors dearly.
"You know, they just came to practice every day with the attitude to work and get better. and I think that they did that and I'm proud of them."
Stillwater 28, Moriah 20
MCS 6 0 6 8 — 20
SCS 7 7 0 14 — 28
M- Olcott 33 pass from Pelkey (pass failed), 5:48.
S- Cocozzo 1 run (Staie kick), 0:30.
S- McDonough 19 pass from Mueller (Staie kick), 0:14.
M- Gilbo 1 run (pass failed), 0:09.
S- Mueller 12 run (Staie kick), 5:40.
M- Olcott 23 pass from Pelkey (Gilbo run), 4:34.
S- McDonough 64 interception return (Staie kick), 2:56.
M- Gilbo 6-11, TD; Fleury 4-4; Valentine 2-2; Team 1-(1); Pelkey 1-(-3). Totals: 14-13, TD.
S- Mueller 16-75, TD; Lilac 29-118; Cocozzo 8-33, TD; Callanan 3-8; Team 2-(-3). Totals: 58-231, 2TD.
M- Pelkey 10-21-1-216, 2TD.
S- Mueller 4-5-0-58, TD; Callanan 2-3-0-10. Totals: 6-8-68, TD.
M- Olcott 7-195, 2TD; Fleury 2-(-1); Allen 1-22.
S- Lilac 4-39; Burdo 1-10; McDonough 1-19, TD.