Bellwood-Antis rallies, then hangs on to down Trojans
GAME NINE B-A Blue Devils: 19 Mount Union Trojans: 14 Friday,October 24, 2008 • Memorial Field • Bellwood, Pennsylvania
By Bob Miller | Daily Herald Sports Editor
— In the ICC, this year for the first time in a long time, there will be an ICC championship game between the two section winners. With the importance given to district playoffs in recent years, we’re not talking varsity, but instead it’s the junior high teams that will take the field next Thursday at Northern Bedford for the league championship. Bellwood-Antis and Mount Union will meet in that championship tilt to determine who will wear the overall ICC junior high crown. — Defense, field position, mistakes and turnovers. When Mount Union traveled to Bellwood-Antis on Friday night, it was a battle of Inter-County Conference section champions. It was a sort of championship game on the varsity level, and the result was a battle in which neither squad gave any quarter, or asked for any. Bellwood-Antis gave up the first score, but was able to come back and then had to hang on for a hard-fought 19-14 victory. — Hard-hitting was displayed all over the field, and although it was a tough struggle, it was clean. Bellwood-Antis was not penalized at all, although they did have one call that was refused by the Trojans. Mount Union was called twice for a total of just seven yards. There were just one punt by the Blue Devils and three by Mount Union, as the ball went up and down the field. — Mount Union had more yardage, plays run and time advantage, but the two teams reached the halftime intermission with the Trojans in the lead by a mere point, 7-6. Defense and mistakes contributed to both first-half scores. — Mount Union choose to receive the kick and used over half of the first-quarter clock to drive from their own 28 to the BA-30, on a 15-play march. — Taking over at the BA-30 on downs, Bellwood-Antis couldn’t move the ball. On third down and six, Blue Devil quarterback Nate Gray went straight back to pass. Mount Union linebacker Zach Hicks bolted through and was in Gray’s face before he had a chance to set up. Gray’s forced pass was intercepted by Todd Walker and returned 38 yards to the Blue Devil-3. — It took Trojan fullnback Malakia Jackson just one play to blast through for the touchdown. Zach Smith booted the PAT for a 7-0 Munt Union advantage with 2:18 left in the first quarter. — On the following kickoff, Bellwood-Antis started from the MU-47 courtesy of a 35-yard return of the kick by Zach McCaulley. The Blue Devils drove to the MU-5, but Mount Union stopped the threat there. — The Trojans got one first down on a three-yard run by Jackson and an eight-yard gain by Zach Hicks, but had to punt from the MU-24. — B-A kick returner NicK DeGol gave the Blue Devils good field position with a 19-yard return to the MU-33 and Bellwood-Antis marched to the Trojan-13. Faced with a fourth and five at the 13, Gray spotted a wide-open Tim Collier in the middle of the end zone for a TD. The Blue Devils went for two points on the PAT and failed on a pass attempt. — On the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, with Bellwood-Antis on their own 31, the Blue Devils lined up with junior Nate Plummer at quarterback, and Gray on a wing. Plummer took the snap and handed off to Gray, who fired downfield to Trey Mock, who went up with a Mount Union defender. Both players came down with the ball. The officials ruled the offensive player got the ball, much to the disgust of Mount Union coach Dave Hummel, who argued with the officials to no avail and after the game stated that that play was the key to the second half. — “What I think was key was the interception in the third quarter. They threw the sweep pass. We intercepted, we came down with the ball and they (officials) called it joint posession,” said Coach Hummel. “As far as I’m concerned, that was the wrong call. We had the interception. We would have had it on the (Mount Union) 20-25 yard line. That set the tone for the second half. I feel bad for our kids, because it wasn’t joint possession. It might have been when they were up, but when they came down, we had the ball.” — Bellwood-Antis didn’t score on that series, but Mount Union ended up with the ball at their own four, lost two yards on the first play and fumbled the ball on the second, with B-A lineman Adam Kovac recovering for the Blue Devils at the MU-3. Two plays later, Zach McCaulley scored a three-yard TD. The two-point pass failed, but Bellwood-Antis led 12-7 with 6:35 left in the third quarter. — Mount Union had the ball five times in the second half and their best starting position was their own-14. The Trojans began second-half possessions from the MU-3, 6, 4, 14 and 4-yard lines, while Bellwood-Antis started inside Mount Union territory three times and once at the BA-49. — “Our special teams are a big part of the whole deal,” explained Bellwood-Antis coach John Hayes. “The kickoffs were good placement, coverage was very good. A couple of them they contributed with fumbling the ball a litle bit. Certainly,the field position was excellent. To Mount Union’s credit, they took that last drive 90-some yards, showing that they are a pretty good football team. They have some playmakers out there, they really played well tonight. — ÒThe blocked punt, the short field there, the fourth-down touchdown pass, we made some plays. When I look at the final score, we played well enough to win. We moved the ball when we had to.” — With the fourth quarter just beginning, Mount Union attempted to punt near midfield. The snap was high and mishandled. Kovac blocked the kick and after it bounced around B-A junior Grant Martin picked up the ball and lumbered about 10 yards to the MU-17. Jason Miller picked up two yards on the first play, and then Nick DeGol ran a counter to the left, stepped out of one tackle and scored the 15-yard TD. Plummer kicked the PAT to give Bellwood-Antis a 19-7 lead with just under nine minutes to play in the fourth quarter. — Three series later, Mount Union started from their own 4, and moved 96 yards for a score that closed the deficit to 19-14. — Jackson, who was the leading rusher in the game with 102 yards on 15 carries, picked up a first down with a 16-yard run on third down. Jimmy Smith went for 10 more on the following call, and Hicks motored off the right side for 18, several plays later. Smith, who had completed only three of eight prior to the drive, found Keith Hoffmaster for 11 yards, Jackson for six, Hicks for 10, and then finally Jackson again, for the 15-yard touchdown. Zach Smith’s PAT cut the Bellwood-Antis lead to just five points, with 1:19 left to play. — “Sometimes your kids get down a little bit, and we had bad field position most of the second half. Bellwood is a good team, I’m not taking anything away from them. We played hard and hung in there,” said Hummel. “It’s a shame the correct call wasn’t made. I tried to make my point with the official and they wouldn’t overrule the call.” — Mount Union tried an onsides kick, but Mock recovered for Bellwood-Antis and the Blue Devils were able to run out the clock.