Tyrone showcases passing attack to dominate Backyard Brawl
GAME ONE Tyrone Golden Eagles: 36 B-A Blue Devils: 13 Friday, September 3, 2010 • Gray Memorial Field • Tyrone, Pennsylvania
By Kerry Naylor | Daily Herald Sports Writer
— Surprises from the season-opener between Tyrone and Bellwood-Antis, a long-standing rivalry that’s come to be known as the Backyard Brawl:
• That Tyrone was able to throw for 224 yards in the first half of a game most-often marked not by precision but by mistakes.
• That Bellwood-Antis, with dominating outside linebackers Mark McCracken and Jared Minori was unable to generate much of a pass rush.
• That the Golden Eagles scored 36 points in the first half alone, in a series dating back to 1934 where 36 points or more has been scored only 11 times.
— But most surprising may have been the reaction from the Tyrone camp to its own offensive prowess. Rather than being amazed or even giddy at the show it put on display on one of Central Pennsylvania’s biggest football stages, most of the Golden Eagles were satisfied that this kind of a performance—one that generated five touchdowns and 224 yards passing in the first two quarters—was something the offense has had in it for some time. — In short, no one on TyroneÕs side was in awe of the Eagles 36-13 victory at Gray-Veterans Memorial Field, a win that left head coach John Franco 13-5 against the Blue Devils in his 17 seasons in the borough. — “I thought that we worked hard enough in the offseason that we would be able to make plays,” said Tyrone junior receiver Nick Patton, who alone scorched the B-A secondary for 164 yards and three touchdowns on 7 receptions, in the process tying his own school record for single-game receiving yards. — “I had confidence in (the passing game) just because the receivers and I worked out all through the summer, and we’ve looked good in practice,” said quarterback Steve Franco, who completed 12 of 17 passes for 224 yards. “I guess I expected our passing game to be on, but on a couple of passes, my receivers just made plays. The line gave me so much time. It was mostly them.” — If ever a play demonstrated the junior’s synopsis of the Eagles’ game, it was his 58-yard touchdown pass to Patton midway through the second quarter, a score that extended Tyrone’s lead to 27-0. It started with a double move by Patton on a play-action roll out, but B-A cornerback Andrew DeGol didn’t bite. Instead he played an underthrown ball perfectly and leaped to get two hands on it at its highest point. — That’s where Patton and his distinct athleticism came into play. Patton came back on the ball, ripped it from DeGol’s hands at the 35, and then cut to the middle, jumping to elude one tackler, before breaking to the outside, and jumping to avoid another. — The play ended with Patton crossing the goal line with his second touchdown. — “They did a great job and ran excellent patterns,” said Bellwood-Antis coach John Hayes. “Franco had lots of time, and it’s hard to defend speed when you have that much time to throw the football. We also expected to be able to defend a little better.” — Hayes and John Franco both agreed that Tyrone’s ability to protect Steve Franco and stand up to the Blue Devils’ pass rush was a major factor in the outcome. — “I felt (our passing game would perform well) if our offensive line gave us time and if we could run the ball a little,” Coach Franco said. “That’s our offense. We clicked because our offensive line did its job. Our guys did a great job, but the real key is we got the ball back enough times. Our defense shut down a really strong inside running game and an excellent tight end (Minori)—two positions that may be as good as we’ll see all year.” — It was something that played out repeatedly throughout the first half, when the Eagles held B-A to six consecutive three-play series. And after each of those short series, the Eagles answered with scoring drives that, one after another, deflated the Blue Devils. — Bellwood-Antis received the opening kick, but after fumbling on its first play netted a negative yard following a pair of incompletions by Lucas Evans. After the punt, Tyrone took over at its own 45-yard line and went straight to work, finding most of its success through the air. — Franco’s first completion was good for 12 yards to Derrick Emigh on third-and-13, and a play later Franco pushed forward on a sneak for a first down that kept alive a 12-play drive that ended with the Eagles’ first touchdown. Franco connected twice with Patton for gains of 8 and 9 yards respectively, but a false start against Tyrone at the 14-yard line set the ball back to the 19. — One play later, B-A linebacker Tyler Beech knifed between a pair of blockers to stuff Christain Getz for a 7-yard loss to the 26. But on third-and-long, Franco found Patton cutting across the defense for a 26-yard score. The PAT was no good and the Eagles led 6-0 with 5:04 left in the first quarter. — The Blue Devils went three plays and punted on their ensuing series, with Minori’s kick sending Emigh back to his own 20-yard line. Emigh made one defender miss, picked up a block at the 30 that allowed him to break to the sideline, and then outraced the coverage to the end zone on an 80-yard punt return for a score. — The first of Templeton’s three extra-point kicks made it 13-0 at the 2:43 mark of the opening period. — “Usually when the defense stays on, I have to fair catch it, but this time I figured I would take it, and there was just outstanding blocking,” Emigh said. — “The punt return was awfully big,” Hayes said. “Those things excite your players, and I’m sure that picked them all up. That second score, in a game like this, is deflating. Then it only gets worse. Our kids get slower, and their kids get faster.” — Things only got worse for B-A in the second quarter, as the Eagles scored on four of their five possessions. — It started with the Eagles’ first series to start the frame, a seven-play, 72-yard drive aided by a roughing the passer call against the Blue Devils. The big play of the drive came on a 32-yard pass from Franco to Getz that, coupled with the personal foul, advanced the ball to the B-A 24. Getz took it in from there, running four straight times, including back-to-back carries for 9 yards. He blasted in from the 1 to increase Tyrone’s lead to 20-0. — Patton’s 58-yarder followed on Tyrone’s next series, and when B-A got the ball back at its own 27, its first play, a screen pass, was picked off by Corbin Nevling-Ray and returned to the 12. — The Blue Devils’ defense stood tall with its back to its goal line, holding Tyrone to 3 yards on three plays, so Templeton came on to boot a 27-yard field goal at the 4:49 mark, extending Tyrone’s lead to 30-0. — Tyrone’s last touchdown came with 20.8 seconds left in the half, capping a 69-yard drive. Patton had three receptions on the series, for 17, 16 and 24 yards respectively, with the last one resulting in his third touchdown to make it 36-0. — B-A got on the board twice in the second half, with the first score coming on a play every bit as electric as Emigh’s first-half return. With time winding down in the third, DeGol took a Tyrone punt at his own 10, broke a couple of tackle going to his right, and then sliced through a seam to the middle of the field on his way to a 90-yard touchdown. Buddy Shaw’s kick made it 36-7. — The Blue Devils added one more score late on a series where their offense finally found a rhythm. Evans had a pair of 23-yard completions on the drive—one to Derek Denny and one to Minori—and Beech powered his way in from three yards out on third-and-goal to set the final. — Despite B-A’s improved success moving the ball in the second half, Tyrone was still able to out-gain the Blue Devils 327-128. — And despite Tyrone’s success in most facets of the game, the Eagles maintained that next week, when Lewistown comes to Gray-Veterans Memorial Field, would not bring a with it a let-down. — “We would all be fools if we thought we were just going to show up and win,” Steve Franco said. “Lewistown is coached by (former Tyrone coach Steve) Guthoff, and they’re definitely on the rise. We have so many leaders on this team that I don’t think that would happen.”