Oil City overcame plenty of adversity, some of its own doing, some not, to beat Juniata 34-33 last week in the first round of the PIAA Class 4A playoffs.
Their reward for the win is the Upper Moreland Bears on Saturday (1 p.m., Hollidaysburg H.S.).
The Oilers were playing without two of their best players, Cam Russell and Brayden Crocker, but still led Juniata 26-7 in the second half.
Four fumbles, however, allowed Juniata to come storming back, getting within one, 34-33, before Oil City stopped a 2-point conversion attempt to seal the win.
It was by far the closest game the Oilers have played this season.
Upper Moreland, meanwhile, the District 1 champion, had no trouble disposing of District 12 champion Archbishop Ryan last week, 35-0.
UM was supposed to face Bonner & Prendergast last week but faced Ryan instead because of a COVID-19 situation.
Here’s a look at how the teams match up.
Oil City Offense (53.7 ppg.)
In Russell’s absence, Isaiah Aeschbacher had 115 yards on 11 carries. Sean Stack, who had over 200 yards rushing in the District 10 title game win over Harbor Creek, is also a big threat running behind that powerful Oiler offensive line.
Then there is the passing game, led by quarterback Holden Stahl and receivers Dakota Cole and JT Stahlman. They have been on their game in the postseason, and will need to be once again on Saturday.
Upper Moreland Offense (31.0 ppg.)
The Bears rushed for 308 yards in their win over Ryan, including 150 by Cam Jackson, who also scored a pair of touchdowns. Quarterback Byron Hopkins , a true dual-threat, ran for 71 yards and threw for 78 yards and two scores.
Oil City Defense (8.9 ppg.)
A unit that has dominated teams most of the season got tested last week, but came up with the big play when they needed it.
Zac Kiefer, Mario Fontanazza, Justin Fagley, Stahl and Cole are among the leaders.
The 429 yards surrendered to Juniata were easily a season high, but this is a defense that has been dominant most of the season, including a month-long stretch without giving up a point.
Upper Moreland Defense (19.3 ppg.)
Hassan Johnson led a dominant effort for the defense last week, returning an interception 25 yards for a touchdown. They limited Ryan to 143 yards of total offense. They have three games of allowing 10 points or less this season.
Winner Gets: Aliquippa/Thomas Jefferson
District 9 and District 10 football playoff stories are powered by Luton’s Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning; the Allegheny Grille of Foxburg; Nolf Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep & Ram; BGM Custom Wear by Brookville Glove; Gc Town Properties; Charles Leach Agency; Ed Gerg Allstate Insurance; McKan Trucking in Smethport; Burford & Henry Real Estate; Costa’s Ace Hardware and Costa’s Supermarket; Smethport Collision and Garage; Lezzer Lumber; Potter Family Campground; GT Town Properties, LLC.