Blue Devils go toe-to-toe with Crushers before falling 24-20
GAME TWELVE—DISTRICT 6 CLASS A SEMIFINAL Bishop McCort Crimson Crushers: 24 B-A Blue Devils: 20 Friday, November 14, 2008 • Point Stadium • Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
By Bob Miller | Daily Herald Sports Editor
— Two small school giants met to do battle at Point Stadium in Johnstown on Friday night. It was a semifinal matchup between top seeded and undefeated Bishop McCort (10-0), fresh from winning the last two District 6-AA titles before dropping down to Single-A in 2008, and No. 4 seed Bellwood-Antis, the two-time defending District 6-A champion, 10-1 with 10 straight wins following a season opening loss to Tyrone. — As could be expected the two bashed and crunched on one another. At times one offense rolled over the defense, at times one defense controlled the other offense. There were seven lead changes before time ran out for one of the behemoths. In one of those games where everybody says, “it’s a shame one of the combatants has to lose,” Bishop McCort had just a little bit more in edging the Blue Devils 24-20. — “ItÕs hard, I think our kids gave a great effort out there,” said Bellwood-Antis coach John Hayes. “We made some mistakes, but they were mistakes on the move, the kids were making efforts. Bishop McCort is a great football team, and they were able to take advantage of them. But, you know, we made some plays on them, too. It just goes to show we were able to play with them.” — Bishop McCort took the kickoff to begin the game and moved 80 yards down the field to score. Though the Blue Devils finally stopped Bishop McCort at the BA-23, McCort kicker Dane Domonkos booted a 41-yard field goal to put the Crushers on the board first, 3-0. It was Domonkos’ eight field goal of the season. — “Defense, all year, has been kind of our kingpin that sets the tone for us,” said Hayes. “They bent a little tonight. That first drive, I knew we had to adjust to game speed. There is just no way you can practice and get a feel for how fast and how good the other kids are. The defense played well, we had a couple breakdowns and they got behind us.” — Bellwood-Antis came right back on the following short series. First, senior Randy Pfahler returned the kickoff 50 yards to the McCort-39 where Domonkos made a touchdown-saving tackle. Zach McCaulley picked up a yard on first down, then Nate Gray lofted a pass over Domonkos head to a wide-open Trey Mock for a 40-yard scoring strike. Tyler Geis booted the extra point for a quick 7-3 Blue Devil lead. — “After that initial drive (by Bishop McCort) that gave us the spark that we could play and that we were in this football game. That was big, trading three for seven,” said Hayes. “The fact that we were able to answer most of their efforts was an indication that it was a pretty even football game.” — Just when it seemed the offenses were taking over, the B-A defense held the Crushers to two punts and an interception on their next three series, and McCort stopped Bellwood-Antis on the following three series forcing two punts and a lost fumble. — The interception by Pfahler gave the ball to the Blue Devils at midfield, but on the next play Gray lost the handle on the ball and McCort recovered at the BA-44. The Crushers drove the distance in 10 plays, with the help of a first down by penalty when Bellwood-Antis was guilty of jumping offsides on a fourth-and-one for McCort. Isa Wadley, who led all runners with 40 yards on 16 carries, bulled the final two yards for the TD and Domonkos kicked the PAT with 1:06 to play in the second quarter. — Bellwood-Antis hadn’t allowed a score in the first quarter since the second game of the season before Domonkos field goal, and kept their record clean in the third quarter, where no team scored in any of the Blue Devils 12 ballgames. — In the meantime, Bellwood-Antis added a lead change. Following a three-and-out by McCort, Gray capped the 50-yard march by finding Geis in the end zone, where the senior tight end outjumped everybody for the 21-yard TD pass to give Bellwood-Antis a 13-10 lead. — That advantage didn’t last long. On a third-and-11, Crusher senior quarterback Jack Schrey scrambled around, appearing first to be trapped and then to have gone over the line of scrimmage, but finally finding Domonkos alone for a huge 58-yard gain to the BA-6. On the second play of the fourth quarter Josh Seidell blasted the final yard after two Bellwood-Antis penalties moved the ball to the one. Domonkos perfect place kick gave Bishop McCort the lead back, 17-13. — The Blue Devils only managed 112 yards rushing in the game after averaging 221 yards per game on the ground in their first 11 games. Tim Collier picked up almost half of the total going 52 yards after taking the ball on a double reverse to the Bishop McCort-10. Two plays later, Gray hit Tim Watters for a nine-yard TD and the Geis PAT kick pushed Bellwood-Antis into their final lead of the evening at 20-17. — McCort, averaging 250.5 yards per game rushing, was limited by the Blue devil defensive unit to 145. Leading rusher Eric Lowry found a way to help his team, returning the following kickoff 50 yards to the BA-39. After Lowry picked up two yards on the first play from scrimmage, Schrey then connected with Domonkos for the 37-yard TD pass that was to spell the difference in which team advanced and which was eliminated from the playoffs. Domonkos added the PAT. — The Blue Devils had one more shot at taking back the lead, but although a Gray to Jason Miller middle screen netted one first down and 23 yards, McCort forced a fourth-down play and wouldn’t allow Gray to throw, instead holding him to a three-yard gain and taking over on downs. — “I think probably the difference was their kickoff returns,” explained Hayes. “We had so many new kids in because of injuries and so forth. Obviously they’ve got a lot of talent there and speed. We gave them awfully good field position, and we knew with their field goal kicker the field was shorter than 100 yards all night. ÒIt is just a tough game right now. Whenever you are on the short end of the stick, it doesn’t matter how you play, it’s just hard to swallow defeat, to know that you’re not putting the pads on again, that you’re not going back out again next week.”