Mount Union Trojans
Friday, September 13, 2002 • Memorial Field • Bellwood, Pennsylvania
By BOB MILLER | Daily Herald Sports Editor
Bellwood-Antis played a week ago as if they had all been introduced to football for the first time right before gametime. They had a lot of trouble performing the basic fundamentals in a 21-0 loss to Bishop Guilfoyle.
—Friday at Bellwood Memorial Stadium, the Blue Devils put it all together combining a defense that shut out Mount Union, a rushing attack keyed by 146 yards in 15 carries for Adam Plummer and a potent passing attack with Jesse Graham completing 10 of 16 passes for 146 yards.
—Bellwood-Antis started out slowly on offense, the opening 12 minutes becoming the eighth straight quarter without a B-A score. Mount Union halted the first two Blue Devil drives with interceptions of Jesse Graham passes.
—“We started off a little tentative,” said B-A coach John Hayes. “We were still trying to find ourselves. As much as we would like to think that the first week gave us confidence, I think we got knocked back last week. We had a good week of practice, we worked hard on some things. Some of them worked pretty well tonight and some didn’t.”
—Near the end of the quarter, The Blue Devils started to move. Graham hit Damion Miller for six yards and a first down and came back three plays later to find Ryan Myers for seven more. Plummer scampered 20 yards to key the series and Cory Daly slanted off the left side and outraced everybody for a 20-yard touchdown. With 11:15 to play in the first half, Dan Graham’s PAT kick gave Bellwood-Antis the 7-0 lead.
—The Blue Devil defense, led by Ryan McCartney, Ryan Myers, Adam and Matt Plummer, Bret McCartney and Josh Rosella forced Mount Union to punt on six straight series and on the seventh, Dan Houser picked off a Stefan Morgan pass and set up a B-A score with a 36-yard return.
—In the last two minutes of the second quarter, the ice-cold Bellwood-Antis offense, suddenly turned into a roaring inferno, scoring three TDs in the final 1:32 of the half.
—Beginning from the BA-47, Bellwood-Antis quick-stepped to a touchdown. Graham passed to Myers for a pickup of 11, Adam Plummer picked up a first down with a 10-yard blast and then added the TD, bursting through the middle on an inside handoff and making the only tackler in his way, miss for a 23-yard score with 1:32 left in the second quarter. Jesse Graham tossed a pass to Ryan McCartney for a 2-pt. PAT and a 15-0 score.
—Mount Union could manage nothing in three plays with Myers forcing an incompletion and Ryan McCartney getting a quarterback sack.
—The Trojans punted to Blue Devil senior Ricky Shannon, who faked a reverse to Dan Houser, ran around the left side, then cut back nearly to the right sideline and raced 65 yards for a TD on the punt return with 0:47 left.
—“Until we got that jumpstart, the punt return, we were missing something,” said Hayes, explaining the Blue Devils’ transformation. “You know special teams always seem to have a big way of sparking things. I think that just kind of lit something under everybody on our team. Even though we already had a touchdown, we weren’t playing very consistently. They were still moving the ball, defensively we bent but didn’t break. We stopped them and forced the punts, but till we stopped them and scored and then got the ball right back, it was anybody’s ballgame.”
—Houser’s interception came on the first play following the ensuing kickoff. The B-A junior speedster picked off the pass at the BA-37 and carried it back to Mount Union’s 27.
—Jesse Graham, who completed seven of his final eight passes after a slow start, had plenty of time, courtesy of his teammates on the line, faked the ball to Adam Plummer before finding Myers all alone down the right side. The senior wideout dove into the end zone past the last Mount Union defender for the 27-yard TD with 18 seconds still to play before halftime. Dan Graham booted extra points following both of the last-second scores to bring the B-A lead to 29-0. “Jesse came into the year with a lot of pressure and speculation,” said Hayes, “and with big shoes to fill following Chuck Benton, who was a two-year starter for us. When he throws, Jesse has good mechanics. He throws the ball well. His shortcomings early-on, have just been being tight. We tried to come back and throw some easy things to get some completions and get him into the flow. We are going to need him as the year goes on, to step up and carry the ball for us, to contribute on the offensive side. He was pretty down. I was real pleased with the way he turned it around. I think any quarterback gets too much credit, too much blame.”
—Bellwood-Antis took the second-half kick and drove down the field, covering 79 yards in nine plays to put the final points on the board and with 7:51 to play in the third quarter and start the mercy clock running for the rest of the game.
—Plummer picked up 27 yards in four carries and Derrick Miller 14 in two more, before Jesse Graham put it right on the money for Dan Houser, who got behind the Mount Union defense for a 36-yard TD.
—“Give Mount Union some credit,” said Hayes. “That big strong fullback runs with a lot of power. (Trojan sophomore fullback Trey Rogers rushed 12 times for 78 yards to lead Mount Union,) He’s a really good football player and is just a sophomore. He was about the only thing that really hurt us defensively. That’s a tribute to him and I’m sure their linemen have a lot of confidence in him when his number is called. Once we were able to shut that down, then both defensively and offensively, we were able to do pretty much what we wanted.”
—Bellwood-Antis (2-1) will celebrate their annual Homecoming next Friday night when they host Williamsburg. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.