Big plays, turnovers, second half defensive effort lead B-A over Juniata Valley into semifinals
GAME TEN — District 6A Quarterfinal Playoff B-A Blue Devils: 22 Juniata Valley Hornets: 14 Saturday, November 5, 2005 • Bellwood-Antis Memorial Field • Bellwood, Pennsylvania
By Bob Miller | Daily Herald Sports Editor
Ask our two local football teams what they found out about first-round district playoff games over the weekend. One common theme in both games was that both the Eagles and the Blue Devils had to overcome strong upset bids and play a complete 48-minute game. Tyrone trailed 30-13 at halftime, before dominating the second half to down Penn Cambria 46-30 on Friday. On Saturday night at Bellwood Memorial Stadium, Bellwood-Antis overcame a pesky Juniata Valley squad that stuck close to Bellwood-Antis, never allowing the Blue Devils to get far out of their sights, until the final whistle. B-A used a second-half defensive effort that shut down the Hornet’s offense, and took advantage of several big plays and turnovers to advance to the semifinals next week with a 22-14 victory.
— “It was an exciting game,” commented Bellwood-Antis coach John Hayes, when asked about the game by one of the media. “It was fantastic for the fans, maybe—it was not fantastic for the coaches and players. We had more errors and mistakes than I can remember having in a long time.
— “To be very honest, I think we have to give credit to Juniata Valley for at least some of that. They put a lot of heat on us. They played a pressure-packed defense and they were responsible for creating a lot of those errors. They took a lot of things away from us.”
— Juniata Valley outrushed the Blue Devils 217-172, but were held to just 22 total yards over the final two quarters by a tenacious Blue Devil defense that recovered four Juniata Valley fumbles.
— In the first half, the two Class-A powers matched each other score-for-score.
— Bellwood-Antis drew first blood after Juniata Valley won the coin toss and elected to take the kickoff to begin the contest. Valley fumbled on the first play from scrimmage with Adam Martin recovering at the JV-39. The Hornets held and took over on downs, but had to punt after the B-A defense forced a three-and-out. Bellwood-Antis ground out a first down, with Josh Kleinfelter barely getting past the marker on a fourth-and-one play to move the sticks for a first down. Two plays later, lightening struck. Juniata Valley, which has used speed as their main weapon all year, got burned when senior Dan Kovac got behind the Hornet secondary, hauled in a perfect Kyle Drost pass and outraced everybody for the 63-yard touchdown. Troy Brunner kicked the PAT for a 7-0 B-A lead with just under six minutes to go in the first quarter.
— B-A safety Brandon Pruznak recovered a fumble two series later to stop the Hornets after they had driven from their own-29 to the BA-38.
— From the BA-34, Drost underthrew a wide-open Kovac and Corey Lightner intercepted and returned to Blue Devil-33. Tyler Hall burst through for 24 yards to the BA-9 on the first play, Johnny Boyd picked up five and then Lightner picked up the four-yard TD and added the PAT kick to tie the score with 11:54 in the half.
— Lightning struck again on the following kickoff when Kleinfelter fielded the kick, cut left, faked a reverse to Justin Manning, which froze the defense and then raced 82 yards for a touchdown, juking the last defender along the Blue Devil sideline. With 11:40 left, Brunner’s PAT gave Bellwood-Antis a 14-7 advantage.
— On the next series, Valley got the benefit of a questionable interference call to help move the ball to midfield, where Kleinfelter recovered a fumble to stop Juniata Valley once more.
— The Hornets hit paydirt on their next series and tied the score with another Lightner PAT and was moving again when they ran out of time at the end of the half. Boyd, who rushed 19 times for 161 yards, four carries for 38 yards on the scoring drive, including a nine-yard TD, then had his number called three more times with time running out on the following possession for 51 yards.
— Evan Celmo was wide right on a 27-yard field goal attempt on the series following Boyd’s score, after the Blue Devils drove to the JV-10. A 34-yard jaunt by Kleinfelter highlighted the drive.
— “We made an adjustment at halftime,” said Hayes. “We did pretty much what we did last year and we had a lot of success with it. But they are a good team and they found something they could counter with and they just really hammered us at the ends. We were outmanned on the flanks and the ones who were there were getting pushed around pretty good.
— “We made a little adjustment that gave us another body where we needed it and we were just fortunate the kids were able to pick that up and do it.”
— Boyd rambled 18 yards on his first carry of the third quarter for a first down, but that was the last time Juniata Valley would move the sticks in the second half.
— The Bellwood-Antis offense ran 34 plays over the third and fourth quarters, while Juniata Valley was limited to just 11 plays by Blue Devil defense. After Boyd’s run, the Hornets ran 10 offensive plays for a total of four net yards.
— Bellwood-Antis drove 64 yards on their second possession of the third quarter, but came away with nothing when Troy Brunner’s 30-yard field goal sailed wide right.
— The two schools traded turnovers with Boyd intercepting a Drost pass and then Dan Kovac recovering a fumble to get it back at the Valley-18.
— Kleinfelter sledge-hammered the Hornets for the TD getting all five carries, including the one-yard TD. On the PAT, Bellwood-Antis benefitted from some luck. On a fake kick, holder Blaze Winterstein backpedalling under tremendous pressure tried to connect with Kovac in the middle of the end zone for a two-point pass. The ball was batted away by the Hornet defense, but right at junior wide receiver David Burns who made the heads-up catch to increase the B-A lead to 22-14 with 6:45 still to play in the fourth quarter.
— Juniata Valley went to their trick book running a reverse with Tyler Hall ending up with the football. However, the Blue Devils allowed just a 24-yard return to the JV-31. Bellwood-Antis then stopped the Hornets to take away the ball at the JV-38 and proceeded to run out the clock.
— Drost was only two-of-eight in the first half, including the big TD toss to Kovac, but after an incompletion to begin the third quarter, completed five straight to finish seven of 15 for 146 yards, one TD pass and two interceptions.
Blue Devil Notes: Kleinfelter has rushed 258 times for a school record 1,759 yards, breaking the old record of 1,653 yards set by Don “Booker” Moore in 1985 in 13 games. Josh now has 162 points on 27 TDs. That’s fourth in points scored and second in touchdowns on the B-A season lists. Kleinfelter has taken over the top spot in 100-yard games with a new mark of 17, breaking the record formerly held by Moore of 15… Drost has completed 51 of 112 passes for 1,033 yards, becoming the seventh passer at B-A to accumulate 1,000 yards in a season. Drost now has 10 TD passes and eight interceptions and is fourth in TD passes on the B-A season list… Kovac has 21 catches for 500 yards and nine TDs. Dan joins Jason Lamertina (581 in 1988) and Mike DelGrosso (520 yards in 1987) as the only Blue Devils with 500 yards in receptions. Kovac also has the single season TDs caught record (nine) and career TDs caught mark (11)… Juniata Valley has recorded an 18-3 mark over the last two years for second-year coach Mike Smith, with two of the three losses to the Blue Devils… Bellwood-Antis (9-1) will travel to Portage (10-0) next weekend for a District VI-A semifinal matchup.