GAME ONE Tyrone Golden Eagles: 19 B-A Blue Devils: 0 Friday, August 31, 2007 • Memorial Field • Bellwood, Pennsylvania
By Bob Miller | Daily Herald Sports Editor
— It was an absolutely beautiful night for a football game-the weather was sunny at the start and cool with a breeze blowing that wasn’t enough to ruin any pass attempts. Both sides of the stands were full to the brimming with the faithful for the annual Backyard Brawl, and the players on both sides were doing their best to maintain the pride of their schools. Tyrone and Bellwood-Antis have each established a program whose reputation is second to none in their size classifications over the many years. Having said that, when these two small school powers battle on this first weekend of the high school season, something has to give.
— This time, in the opener for both teams, it was the Blue Devils, who gave in points scored-Tyrone turned a defensive gem into a touchdown for the only score of the opening half and then ground out a TD in each of the final two quarters for a 19-0 victory. The Blue Devils also gave in turnovers, contributing five, as the alert Golden Eagles defense came up with three pass interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
— “There was no doubt, our defense really played well, and that was the main reason we won the game,” explained Tyrone coach John Franco. “It was a defensive struggle the whole game. It was just old-fashioned football. Both teams were slugging it out and we were able to make some plays and bank on a really good defensive effort to get a win against a great program.”
— The Tyrone defense kept Bellwood-Antis out of the end zone for the entire ballgame, and limited the B-A offense to just 48 yards total offense in the first half and then combining a ball-control offense with that defensive effort allowed the Blue Devils to run just four plays in the fourth quarter to thwart any attempt at a comeback.
— Tyrone took the opening kick and drove to the BA-26, before a holding penalty and a quarterback sack by B-A defensive end Justin Miller stalled the Eagles.
— Following the Eagles punt, Bellwood-Antis was backed up to their own 20. On a third-down-and-seven, Justin Manning was stripped of the football by Shane Emigh, who raced 23 yards for the Tyrone touchdown and a 6-0 lead that would be the only tally of the first half. Bellwood-Antis had six first-half possessions and two fumbles, counting Emigh’s TD, two interceptions and one punt. Tyrone also had the ball six times on offense with three punts, one fumble and lost the ball on downs at the BA-31 after tailback Mark Mingle carried twice for four yards and sophomore quarterback Levi Reihart lost a total of six yards on two carries.
— The Tyrone defense made a shambles of the inexperienced Bellwood-Antis line for most of the game, resulting in the Blue Devils spent only four plays in Tyrone territory during the opening half, and two of those plays came after Justin Manning recovered a Tyrone fumble at the Eagles-36. Two plays later, Bellwood-Antis returned the favor with Nick Wilson recovering a B-A fumble to give the pigskin right back to the Orange and Black.
— “We really felt good in the first half, not the fact that we were down 6-0, after that giveaway score, our kids played pretty good defense and we played better, even though we didn’t score any points,” said Bellwood-Antis coach John Hayes. “We hurt ourselves with turnovers and penalties that we made and turnover opportunities that we didn’t make. The opportunity for a pick, a fumble recovery that we didn’t get, all that accumulates and builds momentum.”
— Bellwood-Antis received to start the second half and immediately started to move the ball, unlike the first half when a 26-yard scamper over the right side by Brandon Humphreys for 26 yards accounted for nearly half the Blue Devils offensive total.
— Junior quarterback Nate Gray tucked the ball away on a designated running play around the right end for a gain of 20 yards and two plays later found Justin Manning for a 12-yard pass completion, after completing just one of four for one yard with two interceptions in the first half. After reaching the 50-yard line, however, Bellwood-Antis was hit with a five-yard penalty and never advanced the ball another yards on that series.
— Tyrone then turned around and turned the game around, marching 74 yards for a score that according to Hayes “took the wind out of the Blue Devils’ sails” for the rest of the game.
— Shayne Tate and Mark Mingle took turns pushing the ball downfield. Tate carried five times for 40 yards, Reihart completed his only pas of the series for 20 yards to Shane Emigh and Mingle had his number called three times for 11 yards, including the one-yard TD plunge with four and a half minutes left in the third quarter.
— “Our offensive line in the second half played really well, and they didn’t play well in the first half,” said Coach Franco. “They (Tyrone’s offense) didn’t play very well the first half, but I think Bellwood’s defense was just really tough.”
— Bellwood-Antis took the following kick and marched from their own 40 following a 35-yards return by B-A junior Randy Pfahler, who ran four kickoffs back for a total of 88 yards. Gray completed passes of 18 yards to Tyler Geis and 11 to Manning and Humphreys ran three times for 14 yards to push the ball to the Tyrone-5.
— The Eagles defense rose up to throw Humphreys for a four-yard loss and then Mingle added the third Tyrone interception to save the shutout.
— The Golden Eagles then used up all the rest of the third quarter and most of the fourth with a pair of time-consuming drives, that included an insurance score to set the final tally at 19-0.
— Tate, who rushed for a game-best 120 yards on 19 totes, took over the offense on the ground running six times for 52 yards and Reihart again completed his only pass of the march for a pickup of 25 yards to Brandon Gehret. Tate covered the final 19 yards for the touchdown. John Shaffer booted the extra point.
— “Coming out for the third quarter, I really thought we had a good shot from the way things were going,” said Hayes. “We got the football and we got off to a good start-everything seemed to be in our favor. We made some plays, got some yardage, a couple first downs. Things were looking good. Suddenly a penalty, the drive is killed and we have to punt the ball to them. That’s when you have to give them credit. They moved down the field and punched that second score in. I think pretty much at that point, the air had pretty much left the sails. We were reeling on defense, we made mistakes on offense, focus and concentration were gone. We started to drive, got the ball down close, and shot ourselves in the foot again.”
GAME NOTES: Tyrone senior tailback/D-Back Johnny Franco, who rushed for 185 yards in last year’s Backyard Brawl, did not play. Franco was on the side lines walking around with crutches and will be out several weeks… The Eagle defense has now turned in back-to-back shutouts, following last year’s 16-0 win over Bellwood-Antis… Emigh and Tate had the other Tyrone interceptions… In the second half, Reihart completed a pass, that was tipped through Tate’s hands and caught by Emigh for a 20-yard gain and a first down. Reihart’s only other pass in the second half was tipped by Gehret, who then grabbed his own tip, while lying on the ground for a 25-yard pick-up… Tyrone ran 19 plays in the fourth quarter to four plays for Bellwood-Antis… Tyrone hosts Huntingdon next Friday, while Bellwood-Antis travels to Lewistown on the same night.