By MATT KING
ST. LOUIS — Valle Catholic neutralized a physical offensive line and rushing attack of Lift for Life to join the last four teams standing in the Class 2 football playoffs.
The Warriors scored three times on special teams, and triumphed 47-14 for their 11th consecutive win on neutral turf at Mehlville High School.
Rylan Fallert returned the opening kickoff 81 yards for a touchdown, and two long scoring catches by Tyler Gegg quickly established a 21-0 advantage.
Alex Viox finished with 98 rushing yards on 18 carries, and Valle Catholic (11-1) secured the right to host Fair Grove this Saturday for a spot in the MSHSAA Show-Me Bowl.
Lift for Life (8-5), making its third straight playoff quarterfinal appearance, was limited to three first downs in the first half and trailed 40-0 at intermission.
Grant Fallert threw a 65-yard touchdown strike to Gegg on the Warriors’ first offensive series, and was 5-of-7 overall for 192 yards and three scores.
Monterrion Rush had the longest play for the Hawks on a 66-yard run up the middle, but was tracked down by Grant Fallert to preserve the 14-0 margin.
Valle Catholic ultimately achieved a red-zone stop when a fourth-down pass fell incomplete, and the teams promptly exchanged turnovers on fumbles.
The Warriors regained momentum on a two-play drive when Fallert delivered an excellent throw over the top to Gegg for a pivotal 76-yard touchdown.
Isaac Basler intercepted a pass by Lift for Life quarterback Noah Ridgel, and Alex Viox capitalized with two first-down runs before catching an open 10-yard touchdown pass to begin the second quarter.
The first of two sacks in the game by Isaac Viox led to a blocked punt that bounced through the end zone for a safety and 30-0 lead. Defensive end Cohen Gibbs had the other Valle sack.
Ridgel picked off a Fallert pass at the Hawks’ 1-yard line to mark the second of three forced turnovers by Lift for Life, but a subsequent tackle for loss by Andre Oberle caused another punt.
Viox made it 37-0 with a powerful 8-yard run. Rylan Fallert added a 26-yard catch with time winding down, and Wil Kuehn kicked a 28-yard field goal as time expired.
Oberle made a team-high 10 tackles, and Carter Viox recovered a fumble while equaling Isaac Viox with nine tackles. Josh Fallert chipped in eight stops.
The Valle Catholic defense was not scored upon until Bryce Williams caught an 8-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-goal with 1:42 remaining in the game.
Ridgel was 5-of-11 passing for 56 yards, and also ran 12 times for 46 yards. Mikell Burden made his second reception to extend the finalscoring drive.
The Warriors posted a 385-195 edge in total offense, but confusion on an errant snap enabled Lift for Life lineman Alan Pointer to return it 41 yards and break their shutout bid.
Grant Fallert restored a turbo clock at 47-8 on a fake hand-off and 39-yard keeper with 2:41 left in the third quarter. He finished with 80 yards on six carries.
Kuehn was perfect on six extra points, and Basler booted six of seven his kickoffs for touchbacks.