Third-quarter effort leads Bellwood-Antis over Juniata Valley
GAME TEN — DISTRICT 6 CLASS A PLAYOFFS B-A Blue Devils: 50 Juniata Valley Green Hornets: 19 Saturday, November 3, 2007 • Memorial Field • Bellwood, Pennsylvania
By Bob Miller | Daily Herald Sports Editor
— It has nearly become a script for the Bellwood-Antis football team in 2007. Play the first half close, then explode for the win in the second half. On Saturday night, at Bellwood Memorial Stadium, the Blue Devils and the Juniata Valley Green Hornets met in the District 6-A playoffs for the fourth straight year. Before the dust had settled, B-A had crushed Juniata Valley 50-19. — In this current series in the playoffs, and indeed, in six of the Blue Devils regular season games this year, the halftime score had the two opponents within seven points of each other. — Saturday night was the seventh, with Bellwood-Antis scoring inside of two minutes to play in the second quarter, to take a 16-13 advantage going into the halftime intermission. — Although they got out of the first half with a three-point lead, the Blue Devils were their own worst enemy. Both of the Juniata Valley touchdowns came after B-A turnovers and Bellwood-Antis stopped themselves with timely penalties and committed penalties on defense that helped the Hornets to keep moving. — “We did a great job of really hurting ourselves the first half,” said Bellwood-Antis coach John Hayes. “Two turnovers, the fumbled punt and then the interception really gave them good field position. We have just been so up and down as far as emotion. We had been doing such a great job defensively up to that point (the lost fumble) and then we couldn’t stop anything. They go down and score. Fortunately we were able to break a big play and answer that. Then we gave them another short field with the interception and they were able to take that in.” — The third quarter was the key however, with a big punt block by B-A defensive end Justin Miller giving his teammates a shirt field to navigate. The block lit an explosion that would have the Blue Devils put up 27 third-quarter points to turn a close game into a rout. — Bellwood-Antis had a three-point lead and the kickoff to start the second half, but was stuffed by Juniata Valley on that first series losing 11 yards on the first three plays and forced to punt. — The B-A defense, led all evening by defensive lineman Cody Smith and linebacker Bruno DeGol, returned the favor and forced a punt by the Hornets. Miller broke through and blocked the kick and Bellwood-Antis took over at the JV-34. — “The good thing is that we were able to come up with some good things to answer, to pick up a couple extra points to be ahead at halftime. But, really the big play was the blocked punt,” explained Hayes. “As much as we talked (during halftime) about the success we had in the second quarter starting to move the ball, they stuffed it down out throats our first series. Getting them back there and blocking that punt, that was the key thing that opened the door in the second half.” — And open up the door it certainly did. First, Brandon Humphreys carried twice for 11 yards and a first down on two carries. Justin Manning picked up seven, and then Humphreys covered the final 11 yards for the score. Tyler Geis drilled a line drive kick that just cleared the crossbar for the PAT kick. The Hornets were unable to move and punted to the BA-29. Humphreys got the call on first and 10, zipped over the right side and outraced everybody for 71 yards and a TD. — Down 30-13, Juniata Valley was faced with a fourth-and-two at their own 40 on their next series, and was stopped by the B-A defense for no gain. On the first play, junior quarterback Nate Gray, who only completed three of nine passes in the game, but made the most of them, found Justin Manning for a 36-yard gain to the JV-4. From there, it was Humphreys on the next play for the four-yard TD. — Finally, on the last play of the third quarter, Valley went to the air, and Zach Myers’ pass was picked off by Justin Manning, who picked up blockers over the home side of the field and sprinted 44 yards for the TD. Geis completed the 27-point quarter with the PAT kick. — Each team scored once in the final 12 minutes. First, on his only carry of the game, reserve tailback Randy Pfahler scampered 90 yards for a touchdown, following a 10-yard Blue Devils penalty that had moved the ball back. — Shawn McCrum banged in for a three-yard score, his second TD of the game for Juniata Valley, to set the final score. — Bellwood-Antis drew first blood after kicking off to Juniata Valley and forcing the first of five Hornet punts. Humphreys, who rushed 15 times for 181 yards, got three yards on two carries. On third-and-seven, Gray went back into the pocket and delivered a strike down the right side to Manning, who got behind the Juniata Valley secondary for a 60-yard TD catch and run. On the PAT try, the Hornets left Wertz uncovered, so Gray tossed him a pass for the two points, all alone in the right corner of the end zone and an 8-0 lead with just three and half minutes gone. — Bellwood-Antis stopped Valley on three straight running plays and the Hornets punted. B-A fumbled the catch and the Hornets recovered at the BA-37. Junior halfback Lakeem Kennedy capped the 10-play drive with a six-yard TD rush, and Swedish foreign exchange student Max Almgren added the PAT kick, to slice the lead to a single point 7-6. — Three series later, Teddy Gardner intercepted a B-A pass to set the Hornets up at the BA-49. Sophomore fullback Shawn McCrum picked up gains of 10 and 11 yards on the final two plays of a 10-play march for the TD to push the Hornets into a 13-8 lead. A try for two points failed, to keep the Blue Devils within five points. — German foreign exchange student Friedemann Weichel boomed the kickoff into the end zone to start the Bellwood-Antis offense at their own 20 yardline on the following series. Manning picked up five yards on the first call and then Humphreys got loose over the right side for 68 yards to the JV-7, where Terry Musser made a TD-saving tackle for the Hornets. The Blue Devils were penalized back to the BA-12, but Humphreys had his number called three straight times, including the three-yard TD. On the PAT, the Blue Devils went for two when Gray found Miller all alone on the left side in the corner of the end zone for a 16-13 lead at the half. — “We practice running both ways, but when it’s working one way, we don’t like to screw it up,” explained Hayes, whose B-A offense had the majority of their 319 rushing yards going to the left side, where center Zach Doyle, left guard Adam Kovac, left tackle Anthony Jenkins and tight end Justin Miller, for the second straight week was singled out by Hayes for their proficiency. — “We have another big challenge next week. It’s a great time of the year. Going in (to the playoffs), I wanted to make sure our kids were ready to play. I think they answered that last week, and I think the second half tonight proved that we’re competitive, even though this is going to be an awfully tough task next week. An undefeated team with a lot of outstanding runners in their backfield. I think our kids will compete. They have been there. They have been down this road and I don’t think they are going to be intimidated.”
BLUE DEVIL NOTES: Bellwood-Antis has scored in the final two minutes of a half six times in 2007… Gray’s other completion was a 45-yarder to 6-foot-5 senior wide receiver Alan Wertz… Humphreys needs 29 rushing yards to reach 1,000 for the season. Brandon scored four TDs for the second straight week and now has a season total of 18… Geis was four of five in PATs… Ligonier Valley (9-0), the number two seed who hosts Bellwood-Antis next Friday night at 7 p.m., has been outscoring opponents by an average of 38.5 to 7.3.