Bad bounce proves pivotal in Blue Devil District 6 Championship loss
GAME TWELVE—DISTRICT 6 CLASS A CHAMPIONSHIP Bishop McCort Crimson Crushers: 34 B-A Blue Devils: 20 Saturday, November 28, 2009 • Mansion Park • Altoona, Pennsylvania
By Bob Miller | Daily Herald Sports Editor
— In most sports involving a ball—basketball, baseball, soccer—the bounce is usually somewhat predictable, despite an occasional strange hop. Football is NOT one of those sports, however. The ball is not round, and bounces are seldom predictable. — A high school football game lasts 48 minutes—four 12-minute quarters—and coaches will always say one play never actually was responsible for a win or a loss. Bellwood-Antis coach John Hayes might beg to differ on that theory in Saturday night’s District 6-A Championship game against Bishop McCort. Hayes’ Blue Devils had taken everything Bishop McCort, undefeated, top seeded and the heavy favorite, had to offer. Bellwood-Antis didn’t blink and actually had a 20-13 lead over the defending champs through three quarters. — After McCort had fumbled but recovered on the previous play, B-A defensive end Jared Minori sacked Crusher quarterback John Pinkerton on a third-and-nine, which would have forced a punt. Instead, the nasty hit caused the Crusher QB to fumble and alert running back Chaz Merriman scooped the ball up on the run. In what would prove to be the pivotal play of the game, Merriman raced around the left side for a gain of 30 yards to the BA-11. — Instead of giving up the football, Bishop McCort scored the tying touchdown four snaps later on the first play of the fourth quarter. McCort added two more last-period touchdowns following a short B-A punt and a fumble to win 34-20. — “Throughout the game, we were victims of some big plays,” said Bellwood-Antis coach Hayes. “A couple of fourth-down plays, when I thought we were going to stop them, they converted. — “Then we gained control and were playing really good defense, had the pressure and made the big defensive hit, but unfortunately, the crazy ball bounced the wrong way for us. — “Their guy (Merriman) was able to pick it up and go the right way and, from that point on, they were like sharks.” — Much like last year’s semifinal matchup between these same two teams, the lead went back and forth. And like last year, a 24-20 McCort win, the Crushers scored last to claim the victory. — Bishop McCort took the opening kickoff and marched from their own 20 to the BA-5. Crusher senior Josh Seidel, who finished with 203 yards on 30 carries and who rushed 12 times for 107 yards in the first quarter alone, had runs of 20, 26, 11 and a pair of nine-yarders. The Blue Devil defense stuffed them there, and Dane Domonkos kicked a 22-yard field goal. For the season, Seidel now has 1,480 yards to become the season record holder for McCort. — Zack McCaulley returned the following kickoff 19 yards to the BA-35. A five-yard Crusher penalty and an eight-yard gain by McCaulley picked up a first down before Tyler Beech bulled up the middle and rambled 29 yards to the McCort 23. Nate Plummer completed an 11-yard pass to Minori, and McCaulley covered the final five yards for the touchdown. Plummer’s extra point kick gave Bellwood-Antis a 7-3 lead at the 3:16 mark of the opening quarter. — Bishop McCort came right back, marching 67 yards for a score. The Blue Devils limited Seidel to 25 yards in the quarter, but Pinkerton completed an 11-yard connection to Domonkos and scored the one-yard quarterback keeper to put his team back in the lead again 10-7 with the Domonkos PAT. — Bellwood-Antis answered with a late score to take a 14-10 advantage at halftime. — Plummer hooked up with Trey Campbell for 14 yards and with Nick DeGol for 21 to move the sticks. Then, after a 10-yard pass interference penalty by McCort cut the distance in half, Plummer lofted a perfect pass over the Bishop McCort secondary to the left back corner of the end zone to McCaulley out of the backfield for the 10-yard TD with 0:18 to play in the half. — In the third quarter, after a three-and-out by Bellwood-Antis, the Crushers marched 59 yards for another Domonkos field goal from 34 yards out to shave the B-A lead to 14-13. — Two runs by McCaulley netted 11 yards and a first down on the next B-A possession, Beech blasted 31 yards to put the ball at the Crusher-three, and McCaulley made it three scores with the three-yard touchdown and a 20-13 lead to set up the Pinkerton fumble-Merriman recovery dash. — In the fourth quarter, B-A fumbled the ball away to their opponents twice and, combined with a four-yard punt, Bishop McCort controlled the action. Seidel scored following the punt with an 18-yard TD and then scored again from 13 yards out after the first B-A fumble. — The Blue Devils rushed five times for a total of 10 yards including one sack, and were 0-for-3 passing in the fourth quarter. In contrast, the Crimson Crushers rushed 17 times for 121 fourth-quarter yards. — “This was a very, very physical game,” said Hayes. “They (Bishop McCort) are a very good football team that is as big and strong, or stronger, with a lot of quick people. Even though we were able to hang with them, they were able to make some great plays, they had some good fortune and some good plays on fourth down. The ball just bounced the wrong way a couple times. That’s the game. They were there to take advantage. We make a great defensive play and it results in setting up a touchdown for them. — “Right now our kids are extremely disappointed, as we all are. We felt coming in we had a good shot of winning the football game. Tonight, a lot of things didn’t go our way. When it’s all said and done, the guys will appreciate their efforts for the year. I’m sure they are going to have a lot of fond memories down the road.”
Blue Devil Notes: Zack McCaulley finishes his senior season with 1,507 yards in 2009, and a career total of 2,862 yards, third on the B-A career list. Zack’s total of 27 TDs this year are fourth overall. McCaulley has 168 points this year, fifth on the B-A ladder, and 292 for his career, fifth career-wise… Nate Plummer completed 69 of 128 passes for 1,146 yards, with 17 TDs and five interceptions. The TD passes are a new B-A record, completions are fifth, passing yardage is sixth, and career yardage of 1,199 is ninth… The 20 points are a season low for the B-A offense, while the 34 points by Bishop McCort are a season high by 9 points… Bellwood-Antis returns six starters on defense and three on offense for 2010… Domonkos scored the game-winning TD in last year’s Bishop McCort victory… Bishop McCort (12-0) will play Millersburg at Hershey Park Stadium on Saturday at noon, in PIAA playoff action… Bellwood-Antis (11-1) is now a combined 505-239-13, and Coach Hayes is 248-84-2.