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Bellwood-Antis lineplay, defense smothers Portage 28-12 in District semifinal

GAME ELEVEN—DISTRICT 6 CLASS A SEMIFINAL B-A Blue Devils: 28 Portage Mustangs: 12 Saturday, November 21, 2009 • Memorial Field • Bellwood, Pennsylvania

By Bob Miller | Daily Herald Sports Editor

— Portage was undefeated coming into the semifinal District 6-A playoff game at Bellwood Memorial Stadium on Saturday night. The Mustangs were averaging 350 yards rushing and 90 more passing and scoring 50 points per game, while giving up only 5.3 points a game. They had never been behind except perhaps for a very early score and then had used a bunch of big plays to humiliate the opposition by game’s end. — On Saturday night, Bellwood-Antis taught them a lesson, scoring in every quarter and sidelined the Mustangs (10-1), 28-12. — It took awhile for the Blue Devils (11-0) to get in sync. Portage was able to use B-A mistakes and big plays to take 6-0 and 12-7 leads. — “Their (Portage) defense is really good, because they are so quick,” said Bellwood-Antis coach John Hayes. “We hurt ourselves in the first half with things. We wanted to speed the pace up a little bit, and it wasn’t happening. We were jumping, we killed the one drive with those penalties. — “In the second half, we were a little better. We had to do some sparring, tried a couple things to see what they would do and were able to come back with some other plays based on what we thought they would do. Overall, it was a pretty complete game, other than the punt runs they had. We’ll need to work on that.” — Portage got great field position after the B-A defense had held them on a three-and-out to begin the game. The line drive punt hit one of the Bellwood-Antis blockers and Portage recovered at the Blue Devils-37. Then, on a fourth-and-13, Portage quarterback Tyler Swires found Ryan Scoran alone for the 26-yard touchdown pass. B-A junior Danny Noye broke through to block the low PAT kick, so the score remained 6-0. — Bellwood-Antis took the ball at the BA-19 on the following series and drove 81 yards in a dozen plays to tie the score. Zack McCaulley ripped off 11 yards on the first play, and Nate Plummer ran for gains of eight and 17, and completed a 16-yard pass to Nick DeGol for another big first down. Plummer completed the march by passing to Noye for the five-yard TD and added the PAT to give Bellwood-Antis a 7-6 advantage. — That didn’t last long, however. Mike Sinosky picked up two yards on the first play of the next possession, then Portage senior speedster Tommy Burgan went around the left side, got loose and raced 83 yards cutting back to the middle for a touchdown. The 12-7 lead for Portage remained after Sinosky failed to break the goal-line plane on a two-point conversion attempt. — That was to be, with one exception, the last big play for Portage. The rest of the contest belonged to Bellwood-Antis. — “The line was the big difference,” explained Hayes. “We were able to stop Sinosky inside, on the trap and the belly. The rest of the defense was able to play honest. They could play the outside stuff and the pass because they didn’t have to come up and help on him. The big guys on our line and the linebackers that shut him down made the difference in the defensive game.” — After a Plummer punt backed Portage up to their own 9, the Blue Devils defense forced a third and 10 from the P-10, when B-A senior lineman Grant Martin recovered a fumbled snap at the Mustangs-8. Tyler Beech plunged for two yards and, on the second call, McCaulley scored from the six. Plummer booted the PAT for a 14-12 lead at halftime. — Nick DeGol came up big on defense twice early in the third quarter and as the clock continued to run, and Portage began to come apart at the seams. — First, Burgan came up with one more big play going around the left side again, only to be stopped by DeGol near midfield, after a 23-yard pick-up. Then three plays later, DeGol picked off a Swires pass and returned the pick 24 yards to the P-37. “It’s tough for them (Portage),” said Hayes. “They had a great year. You start to see that slip away, things start to get sloppy, it starts to add up. — “Our kids started to open up and pound them, we were pushing the line of scrimmage pretty good, and our guys were making pretty good plays.” — Plummer connected with Beech for a nine-yard gain and a first down, DeGol scooted for nine two plays later and McCaulley, with a beautiful clearout block from Martin, got to the corner and raced 15 yards for the touchdown. Plummer’s PAT kick gave the Blue Devils a two possession lead, 21-12. — “When it gets late in the game, our line is so big—they move people,” said McCaulley, who rushed for 131 yards on 24 carries, and now has 24 touchdowns on the season. “They just wear down the ‘D’ line and their linebackers and they really can’t keep up with the pace of our line. They just make holes and I get the opportunity to run through them. — “The other guys (our fullback Beech and flankers DeGol and Noye) getting carries and gaining yards takes the pressure off me. It’s a team effort and all the guys really play hard.” — Sinosky, who was averaging 13.8 yards per carry coming in, but was held to 32 yards on 10 carries, found a bit of a spark with back-to-back runs of 11 and 12, but the B-A defense prevailed and took over after a punt. — Bellwood-Antis added one more tally, beginning near the end of the third quarter, and finally adding a touchdown on a nine-yard run by McCaulley with 7:23 to play in the fourth stanza.

Blue Devil Notes: Portage was able to run for first downs on two fake punts by Sinosky, and scored their first TD on a fourth down pass… Plummer, the school record holder with 16 TD passes this year, completed eight of 11 passes for 75 yards to become the 10th Blue Devil to pass for 1,000 yards and is now 64 of 115 passes for 1,070 yards… McCaulley has rushed 233 times for 1,463 yards and 21 TDs and caught four passes for 78 yards and three more TDs. Zack is 8th in rushing at B-A for one season and fifth (2,667) in career rushing, McCaulley’s 24 TDs are tied with Chub Dillen (1954) and Ron Raugh (1946) for fifth all-time. His 15 100-yard rushing games tie McCaulley with Don “Booker” Moore (1983-85) for second on the B-A Century Club list… The five-time District champion Blue Devils are now 12-1 in District semifinals, with their only semifinal loss last year 24-20 to Bishop McCort… Bellwood-Antis will face Bishop McCort at Mansion Park on Saturday, at 7 p.m. for the District 6-A title.

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