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Bellwood-Antis defense holds off Tyrone 17-15


Tyrone Golden Eagles

Friday, August 30, 2002 • Gray-Veterans Memorial Field • Tyrone, Pennsylvania

By Bob Miller | Daily Herald Sports Editor

You have heard of the old lady putting all her eggs in one basket. Friday night at Gray-Veterans Memorial, Bellwood-Antis scored all their points in the second quarter and used a tremendous defensive effort to hold off backyard rival Tyrone 17-15. Tyrone put the first points of the season on the scoreboard becoming the first team to score against Bellwood-Antis in the first quarter of a game, since the District championship game against Bishop Carroll in 1999.

—Jason Wilson returned the opening kick 19 yards to the Tyrone-34 to get the Eagles in gear. Senior quarterback Tyler Mertiff put the ball in the air early and often, eventually completing 11 of 30 passes for 143 yards and two scores. Mert found Aaron Jeffries over the middle for a 10-yard gain on a fourth down play and later connected with Jeffries again for the 23-yard TD with four minutes to play in the opening quarter.

—The Tyrone defense held Bellwood and quickly hit paydirt again. On the first call after forcing a Blue Devil punt, Mertiff hooked up with Tommy Crowl for a 62-yard TD pass, but the play was nullified by a holding penalty. The series ended several plays later when B-A defensive lineman Matt Plummer recovered the first of two fumbles he picked up in the game. A junior, Matt recovered two Tyrone fumbles, recorded a pair of quarterback sacks and knocked down numerous pass attempts to lead the Blue Devil defense.

—Bellwood-Antis got off to a sluggish start, but came alive in the second quarter. Adam Plummer picked up 10 yards for a key first down and Jesse Graham completed a pass of 22 yards to Cory Daly and Daly bulled one yard for the score with 10:02 remaining in the quarter. Dan Graham booted the tying PAT.

—The B-A defense rose up to stop Tyrone on the next series. Daly and John Elvey combined on a tackle limiting the Eagles to a one-yard gain and first Adam Plummer and then Josh Rosella recorded quarterback sacks to force a punt.

—B-A senior fullback Derrick Miller had his number called twice for 22 yards to move the ball into Tyrone territory. Plummer, who led B-A with 96 yards on 19 carries, struck for 11 yards and then Daly got loose for 20 more. After the Eagle defense stopped Plummer for no gain, Adam stepped off the 10-yard touchdown a play later over the left side. Graham’s PAT boot increased the B-A lead to 14-7 with 5:33 in the quarter.

—Matt Plummer ended Tyrone’s next series with a quarterback sack on a third and 12 and Bellwood-Antis marched down the field again to put points on the scoreboard.

—Jesse Graham hooked up with Adam Plummer for a 42-yard pass play and Dan Graham kicked a 22-yard field goal to set the halftime score at 17-7.

—“We made some big plays,” explained B-A coach John Hayes. “Their start was a very well executed drive. We played pretty well, but we just werenÕt quite adjusted to the speed of their offense. They have a great quarterback and some good receivers and those other kids ran the ball when they had to. It took us a while to get into the flow of the game. We were able to unleash some of the things we have. I think we caught them with some mismatches with some of our formations that got us some big plays. Getting the field goal was certainly great, but we would have liked to get a TD for a little more safety.”

—Ben Gummo, who led Tyrone with 92 yards on a dozen carries, had gains of 15 and 11 in the first half, but following the early TD, the Bellwood “D” controlled Tyrone, holding the Eagles to 20 yards total offense in the second quarter after totaling 93 yards in the opening quarter.

—Neither team was able to punch any points on the scoreboard in the third quarter.

—Derrick Miller rambled 28 yards on the first play of the quarter for B-A, but after that the Tyrone defense held the Blue Devils to one yard on 11 plays.

—“Offensively in the second half,” revealed Hayes, “I was real disappointed that we didn’t perform better. They made some big plays, they jumped in and did some stunting before we got going. We got some bad blocking on the perimeter, if you don’t get out there, you are going to lose yardage. We were playing a lot in negative situations in the second half. Sometimes when youÕre ahead, you get a little cautious and don’t want to throw the ball. We did one time and we got burnt. You are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. We had to open it up and they have some pretty good kids, who made the plays.”

—Tyrone didn’t fare much better, getting a 13-yard pass from Mertiff to Dan Grazier, an eight-yard completion to Jeffries and a 23-yard pickup from scrimmage by Gummo. Subtract those totals and Tyrone 32 yards total offense in 10 plays.

—In the fourth quarter, the action heated up. First, Tyrone forced a punt from Bellwood-Antis. The ball was snapped over punter Ryan Myers head and out of the end zone for a safety and two Tyrone points cutting the B-A lead to 17-9.

—Then It seemed the Blue Devil defense had stopped Tyrone cold. First, Matt Plummer sacked Mertiff for a seven-yard loss, then Matt rushed hard enough to knock Mert’s attempted pass down. The Eagles shifted into another gear with Tyler Mertiff rising to the occasion. On consecutive plays, Mertiff threw a 12-yard pitch to Grazier for a first down on a fourth and long play and then a 36-yard TD pass to Jeffries, who led all receivers with five catches for 82 yards and both of his team’s scores. With 6:59 left in the game, and Bellwood-Antis up 17-15, Tyrone went for two points to tie the score. Using a trick play, Mertiff pitched to Gummo, who stopped and tried to pitch back to Tyler all alone. The ball was too high however and the score remained 17-15.

—“In one night,” commented Hayes, “that was a season worth of energy in that last quarter. They really turned the heat on, the pressure and we hurt ourselves with some missed plays there. You have to give our kids so much credit, the way they hung in there. We made some mistakes, but nobody was getting on anybody, they all hung together. I’m very proud of the way they handled that. I am just extremely happy with the way our kids played. And the outcome is just wonderful. They are going to have a good year, they have a good football team. IÕm just happy to get out of here with a win. Two points is enough.”

—The Eagles continued to threaten, getting the ball inside the BA-40 late in the game, but a pass attempt by Mertiff was deflected and intercepted by Derek Reimer and then with under a minute left, Ricky Shannon knocked down a pass for the Blue Devils and a play later, Matt Rogers came up with the Blue Devils third interception of the game.

—“This team never gives up,” said Tyrone coach John Franco. “That’s been our trademark over the years. They battled and I’m really proud of their incredible effort. We just made far too many mistakes against a good team. We had many opportunities that we didn’t cash in. To shut out a team like that that has all those weapons, that says volumes about our defense., but once again like last year, our offense didn’t come through. That has to be the most mistakes of any Tyrone team I’ve had. We have to eliminate that. We were our own worst enemies. We have a lot to build on and we’ll see where we go from here.”

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