By PETE SCHNATZ
Journal Register News Service
ASTON — Sun Valley’s football resurgence continued Friday when the Vanguards treated an overflowing Homecoming crowd to a 35-14 romp past Octorara in a Ches-Mont American mismatch.
The treatment Dan Griffin and the Vanguards dealt Octorara (1-4 overall, 0-2 league) was somewhat less cordial.
Griffin, the workhorse senior running back who alternates between running over and away from tacklers, rumbled for 179 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries.
And it was his heads-up defensive play on the initial snap from scrimmage that put the Vanguards (4-1, 2-0) in immediate control.
In a formation that has become a staple of Sun Valley practices, senior lineman Vaughn Fulton lined up at nose guard in an effort to distract the opposing center. The plan worked when the Braves botched their first center-quarterback exchange, with Griffin falling on the fumble.
“Vaughn got in (the center’s) head, gave him something else to think about other than just snapping the ball,” Griffin said. “It was great to get the ball that quick, especially at that end of the field.”
The turnover led to a four-play, 28-yard scoring drive that was capped by Juwan Chandler’s 15-yard stutter step, end-around run down the right sideline for a 7-0 lead just 2:02 into the game.
Sun Valley got the ball back 2 ½ minutes later and quickly doubled the lead to 14-0, going 65 yards on seven plays. Griffin started the scoring march with a 38-yard jaunt, and quarterback T.J. Mancini capped it with a 1-yard keeper.
“The first quarter has been very good for us, I think we’re averaging two touchdowns (in the first 12 minutes) this year,” Vanguards coach Jim Grugan said. “It also helped that our offensive line really stepped it up in the first half.”
Mancini (3-for-6, 104 yards and one touchdown passing) thrived behind that line, particularly when he directed a 65-yard TD drive in the final 1:36 of the first half. The junior connected with Leon Hunter on a 54-yard catch-and-run that reached the Octorara 15-yard line. Griffin — who churned out 95 yards on a dozen carries in the first two quarters — took it from there, bulling his way over right tackle from 5 yards out to make it 21-0 just before intermission.
Griffin reached 100 yards on his first carry of the second half and added an 8-yard burst through the right side of the line for a touchdown that widened the advantage to 28-0 midway through the third quarter.
Even after Octorara made some noise with a pair of scoring runs by quarterback Alex Gooden (20 carries, 159 yards), the Vanguards refused to led the Braves creep any closer.
On a beautiful pitch and catch over the middle on a play-action pass, Ryan Riddle made a leaping catch of Mancini’s long toss over the middle for a 40-yard touchdown that closed out the scoring with 10:01 to go in the game.
“I’m not the primary target on that play,” said Riddle, who also had a pair of long kickoff returns and a key pass breakup in the second half.
“We usually go to the tight end or the wide receiver on the outside,” Riddle added. “T.J. found me and made a great throw. It was pretty exciting.”
As for the Vanguards, another impressive effort is helping make last season’s 0-12 debacle a distant memory.
“The kids read all the stuff people are saying, I don’t really pay attention to it,” Grugan said. “But it’s nice that people think enough of you that they expect you to win games now.”
Sun Valley 35, Octorara 14
Octorara 0 0 7 7 - 14
Sun Valley 14 7 7 7 - 35
S- Chandler 15 run (Cioeta kick) 9:58
S- Mancini 1 run (Cioeta kick) 3:41
S- Griffin 5 run (Cioeta kick) :29
S- Griffin 8 run (Cioeta kick) 6:53
O- Gooden 1 run (Bylery kick) 4:35
O- Gooden 57 run (Bylery kick) 11:50
S- Riddle 40 pass from Mancini (Cioeta kick) 10:01
First downs 15 9
Rushing 269 190
Passing 104 25
Total yards 373 215
Passing 3-6-0 4-8-0
Punts-Average 2-33.0 2-34.5
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 2-2
Penalties-Yards 2-15 3-23
Rushing: Sun Valley - Griffin 26-179, 2 TDs; Riddle 6-48; Chandler 13-45, TD; Mancini 3-(-3), TD. Octorara - Gooden 20-159, 2 TDs; Cooper 5-17; Devlin 6-16; Norris 1-(-2).
Passing: Sun Valley - Mancini 3-6-0, 104 yards, TD. Octorara - Gooden 4-8-0, 25 yards.
Receiving: Sun Valley - Hunter 1-54; Riddle 2-50; Octorara - Butler 1-12; Dinorscia 2-9; Thompson 1-4.