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Steel-High too fast and physical for Bellwood-Antis in PIAA Eastern Semifinal game at Hershey

GAME FOURTEEN — PA STATE CLASS A QUARTERFINAL Steelton-Highspire Steamrollers: 45 B-A Blue Devils: 13 Saturday, December 1, 2007 • Hershey, Pennsylvania

By Bob Miller | Daily Herald Sports Editor

— Speed kills and if anyone needs proof of that, they should have been at the Bellwood-Antis/Steelton-Highspire PIAA Eastern Semifinal football game at Hershey Park Stadium on Saturday afternoon. None of the Blue Devils first 12 opponents was able to run wide successfully this year, but Steelton went around and through the B-A defense all afternoon, practically at will, in the Steamrollers’ 45-13 triumph. — Bellwood-Antis got a quick glimpse of what was to happen on the game’s very first play from scrimmage. Roller quarterback Andre Campbell fumbled the ball, intending to hand off to super tailback Jeremiah Young. The ball bounced right back up to Campbell, who rounded the left side and raced 50 yards for the first of Steelton-Highspire’s three opening-quarter scores. The PAT kick was wide left, but the warning had been served. — “If you look back to our whole season, we had those kind of plays happen to us and we have had some real negativity happen after that,” explained Bellwood-Antis coach John Hayes. “You always like to have something good happen initially in a game like this to try to swing the momentum. At the worst, a busted play that should have gone for a couple yards loss, goes for a touchdown.” — Bellwood-Antis began their first series on offense with senior tailback Brandon Humphreys going around his own left side for 11 yards and a first down, but two incompletions and another run netted a minus one-yard and forced a punt. — Several series later, Young, who had 2,465 yards rushing coming in, needed just two plays to move Steelton 53 yards for another TD. On first down, Young exploded though a huge hole and sprinted 41 yards to the BA-12. On the next play, Young scooted for the 12-yard TD, the first of five scores for the Steamrollers junior. Justin Williams, who later was ejected and assessed a 15-yard unsportsmanlike personal foul penalty, for throwing a punch and will miss the Steelton game against Bloomsburg game next Saturday, kicked the PAT. — On the Blue Devils following series, Steelton tipped a Nate Gray pass at the line of scrimmage and Williams intercepted the pass and returned it 29 yards to the BA-4. Young needed just one play for his second TD and a 19-0 first-quarter advantage as the Steamrollers looked to embody their nickname. — On a third-down-and 16, Steelton went to the air in the second quarter and Justin Manning picked it off for Bellwood-Antis, returning the interception 20 yards to the SH-45. Humphreys ran twice for 12 yards and Bruno DeGol once for three. Gray opened the drive with a 20-yard pass completion to Alan Wertz, and then capped the drive with a 14-yard connection to Wertz in the back of the end zone. Tyler Geis cut the score to 19-7 with the extra point kick with 5:32 left in the first half. Wertz caught three passes for 46 yards to end his senior year with 20 catches for 421 yards and four TDs. — The B-A defense was able to contain Young for most of the second quarter, with the exception of a 19-yard jaunt during one series, and an 18-yarder later, but neither drive resulted in points. Then lightning struck again when with just nine seconds in the half, Young got loose for 58 yards and his third TD. A pass attempt for two points failed. — With just 2:38 left in the third quarter, Campbell, who rushed nine times for 113 yards, scored on a 40-yard scamper for the only score of the quarter. The TD was set up earlier when a Gray pass was tipped by safety Jeff Davis to teammate Aaron Wilson volleyball-style for an interception. — Young added his final two scores within 33 seconds in the fourth quarter. First, Young carried the ball three times for 17 yards, and Campbell added a 26-yard gain. Young finished off the march with a 28-yard run and holder Kevin Porter ran in the two-pointer. On the final score of the game, with the ball at the Steelton-15, Young ran away from everybody for the 85-yard six-pointer to finish his day with 30 carries for 357 yards. Young pushed his season rushing total to 2,822 yards and 36 overall TDs. Young reached the 2,000-yard rushing mark as a sophomore last year in the Rollers 28-8 loss to Bellwood-Antis, but was hurt on the first-quarter play and never returned. — As quick as those two scores seem, the Blue Devils also tallied a touchdown in between. Gray, who looked like he would be sacked, ducked under the attempt and spotted a wide-open Justin Miller well behind the Roller defense. Miller gathered it in and completed the 62-yard pass and run for the Blue Devils’ second score. Geis’ kick was off right. Gray completes his first year as the starting quarterback with 70 completions in 168 attempts for 1,149 yards, with 12 TD passes and 14 interceptions. — “We were excited, we came in thinking we could play with this football team. Even though we had lost a lot of the kids that were here last year,” said Hayes, “and most of them (Steelton-Highspire) were back. A lot of our kids were in that game. We worked hard at it and came in thinking we could win. — “They just had too many playmakers,” said Hayes. “I think they played better today than they have played in a lot of situations. Credit their coaching staff. They did some things that they haven’t done before to try to negate some of the match-ups with our players. I think once the momentum swings, it’s almost like double-jeopardy. They go up and we go further down. Sometimes you get the bear, but today, the bear really got us.” — Steelton-Highspire fumbled five times from scrimmage, muffed three straight punts and threw two interceptions, but was still the most dominating force a Bellwood-Antis program has faced this season. With a lot of quickness and speed, plus a line that consistently opened huge holes in the Blue Devil defense, the Rollers were easily able to overcome their mistakes and although they didn’t need any help, the officiating crew from District 4 would have been better served had they stayed home. Near the end of the second quarter, a lateral pass that Bellwood-Antis knocked down and recovered and would have scored a TD on, was ruled an incomplete forward pass. Bellwood-Antis trailed 19-7 at the time and a score would have made the rest of the game very interesting. — There was at least one occasion that Steelton-Highspire should have been called for illegal substitution but wasn’t. In the third quarter, with the same score and third-and-long, Gray intentionally threw the ball on a bounce to Alan Wertz behind and to his right. Wertz pulled up to pass, then ran for a gain that would have left a manageable fourth-and-three, on the Steelton side of the field. Instead, there was an inadvertent whistle that ruled the play dead and resulted in a replay from the original line of scrimmage. Bellwood-Antis ended up punting. — “Our kids really played hard and gave everything they had to get here today,” said Hayes. “This certainly isn’t going to diminish the good feeling that we have about what we accomplished to get to this point. The better football team won today and deserves to go on.”

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