Petro’s TD pass, INT secures 22-21 Sandy Valley win over Malvern


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Sandy Valley senior Ben Petro ensured a homecoming victory for the Cardinals by throwing a late touchdown pass to Mason Tucci and making the win-locking interception in Sandy’s 22-21 win over Malvern on Friday night.

Led by Petro’s 178 passing yards and three total touchdowns, the Cardinals jumped to 3-1 while handing Malvern their first loss of the season.

“Resiliency,” Sandy Valley head coach Brian Gamble emphasized after the game. “We fought for every inch tonight. Really proud of our guys.”

Petro and the Cardinals started the scoring at the end of the first quarter, as the quarterback found Tucci over the middle and secured the touchdown when Tucci raced down the left sideline, giving the Cards an early 7-0 lead.

However, the Hornets tied the score late in the second quarter with Bryson White bulldozing his way into the end zone, and after a brief Cardinal offensive drive, Malvern would take the lead just before halftime as Tristan Phillips’ (12-19, 136 passing yards) short pass to Johnny Walker ended with Walker sidestepping Sandy defenders for a 24-yard score – giving Malvern a 14-7 halftime advantage.

Sandy Valley wasted no time in their first drive of the second half and tied the game at 14-apiece with a Petro touchdown run.

The game would remain at 14-all until the final two minutes.

Malvern slowly worked its way into Sandy Valley’s red zone and hit paydirt with White fighting for a touchdown at the goal line, giving Malvern a 21-14 lead with 1:56 left.

However, the Cardinals only needed three plays to get back into the contest, culminating in Tucci’s 52-yard rush to the end zone on a rolling-left pass from Petro. Still needing at least one extra point to complete the comeback, Petro swerved past Hornets defenders on the ensuing two-point conversion.

Still, Malvern had 1:32 to steal the game from the home team, and Phillips led the Hornets into the Cardinals’ red zone – as deep as the 12-yard line.

However, an errant Phillips pass floated into the hands of Petro as the senior leaned into the visitors’ sideline, cementing the victory for Sandy.

“I thought they were going to spike it,” Petro explained.”But I trusted [Tucci at safety] over top, so I jumped there near the flats. It just ended up perfect.”

“He put his cape on for us, and made some plays,” Gamble added on Petro.

The Cardinals will face Tuscarawas Central Catholic next Saturday in New Philadelphia, while Malvern (3-1) will host Garaway.