Moshannon Valley Black Knights
Friday, October 25, 2002 • Houtzdale, Pennsylvania
By BOB MILLER | Daily Herald Sports Editor
— With the rain falling harder as the game progressed, Bellwood-Antis lifted themselves up by their bootstraps and raincoats to come from behind to defeat Moshannon Valley 21-16. — Previously unbeaten Moshannon Valley never gave up, fighting from opening whistle to the final play of the game. Special teams and special plays counted as precious as gold in the game between the two small school powerhouses. — Bellwood-Antis took the early lead after the Blue Devil defensive end Ryan McCartney tossed Knights’ quarterback Jack Kephart for a 19-yard loss and forced a fumble. Matt Plummer recovered the ball at the MV-12 to set up the first score. — Adam Plummer picked up seven on the first play and five more on the next call to get the TD. With 10:19 still to play in the opening quarter, Bellwood-Antis led 7-0. — The rain and the defenses from both schools contributed to a scoreless contest for the reminder of the first stanza and more than half of the second. B-A drives were stopped by a fumble, pass interception and two punts. — Mo Valley began at their own 20 following the Blue Devil score. The B-A defense had Mo Valley stopped and ready to punt when an offsides penalty gave the Knights a first down and new life. The Blue Devils regrouped and stopped Mo Valley again on downs at midfield. — Moshannon Valley got the ball back at the MV-49 following an exchange of punts and drove down the field to score. Twice, Bellwood-Antis helped with penalties that moved the sticks for Black Knight first downs. Finally P. J. Keith went over the left side for a four-yard TD and Steve Deao tied the game with his PAT kick with 6:19 to go in the second quarter. — B-A couldn’t move the ball and Moshannon Valley tipped and intercepted a Jesse Graham pass to get the pigskin back. Mo Valley moved 52 yards in 11 plays to take the lead. Keith scored the TD on a four-yard blast and Deao added the PAT with 34 seconds left until halftime. — The rains fell even harder in the second half and neither team was able to get anything going in the third quarter. — In the final 12 minutes, the Blue Devils stepped their performance up a notch on defense and it carried over on offense as well. — A Cory Daly punt pinned the Knights deep in their own territory at the MV-seven and the B-A defense allowed home team just three yards in three plays forcing a punt from the 10-yard line. — Matt Plummer broke through and blocked the punt which the kicker picked up in the endzone and ran out to the 10 before being tackled. Daly and the Blue Devils covered the distance in two plays, including the four-yard TD and Dan Graham’s extra point kick pulled Bellwood-Antis even at 14-14 with 9:42 left. — Special teams came up big again on the following kickoff when B-A senior Padraig Flynn fell on a Moshannon Valley fumble at the Knights-35. — Daly, who led the Blue Devils with 65 yards on 19 carries picked up nine yard on first down, but the Mo Valley defense nailed Daly and Adam Plummer, who finished with 17 carries for 56 yards, for one yard losses on successive plays to bring up a fourth down and three at the 28-yard line. B-A senior quarterback Jesse Graham had a tough night in the rain and cold, completing just one of seven pass attempts. Jesse made that one count however, finding Ryan McCartney over the middle behind the Mo Valley defense for a 28-yard TD pass. Dan Graham booted the PAT to give the Blue Devils a 21-14 lead with 8:17 remaining. — With all that time left, Moshannon Valley showed the character that undefeated teams develop. Bellwood-Antis proved to be their own worst enemy, halting a potential drive of their own with a holding penalty, then aiding the Knights with 20 yards in penalties to help Moshannon Valley move down the field one series later. The defense bent, but led by Ryan McCartney, Josh Rosella, Matt Plummer and Ryan Myers, who had their numbers called all game long on tackles, Bellwood-Antis held Moshannon Valley out of the endzone. — In the end, on a fourth down play with only seconds to go, Daly ran around to run precious seconds off the clock and finally with no time left, threw the ball out of the endzone for a safety and two final points for the Knights. — Since a game cannot end with a safety, one untimed play remained. Dan Graham kicked the ball past midfield and the B-A defense tackled the Mo Valley ballcarrier as soon as he got the ball. — Bellwood-Antis improves to 8-1, while the Black Knights drop their first game of their season to fall to 8-1 also. — Defense was the key, with the weather taking away the Blue Devils quickness, giving the larger Knights the advantage for most of the game. — “Big plays were certainly a part of this game,” said B-A coach John Hayes. “We used one to get the ball and got a quick score to start the game. Penalties kept their drive alive. That score was a big turning point. It seemed they were able to pound away at us and use their strength and were able to take advantage of a short field. — “Give our defense a lot of credit in the second half. Special teams play ignited our team. We played with more enthusiasm. The defense made some breaks for the offense and we were able to take advantage. Now we have to wait and see who we play next week.” — Bellwood-Antis had just 81 yard rushing and 109 yards total offense in the quagmire of mud and rain and wind, while Moshannon Valley had 168 yards rushing, led by Keith with 85 yards on 22 carries, and 196 yards total offense. — Both teams have qualified for the District 5/6 Class A playoffs which begin next week.