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Windber out defenses Blue Devils 6-0

GAME TEN: District 5/6 Class A Quarterfinal Playoffs

Windber Ramblers

Saturday, November 2, 2002 • Windber, Pennsylvania

By BOB MILLER | Daily Herald Sports Editor

Bellwood-Antis and Windber battled the cold and mud on Saturday night at Windber Stadium in the opening round of the District 5/6 playoffs. Both teams had to face something much more severe than the weather however. Defense was the king of this contest. Neither team rushed for 100 yards and with the exception of two long pass plays by Windber, one of which was wasted, the two teams passed just a combined total of 52 yards. Windber (10-0) took advantage of a long pass play and several short, but key penalties to push across the only score of the game with six minutes remaining in the game and held on for the 6-0 win. Windber advances to play a semifinal round game against the top-seeded Bishop Guilfoyle Marauders (10-0) next Saturday.

— Beginning at midfield, Windber got two yards by Jarrod Mock and a five yard completion from Steve Slatcoff to John Curlej against the Blue Devil defense. On a third down and three, lightening struck for the second time in the game. Slatcoff found Curlej down the left sideline for a 38-yard gain to the BA-five. Slatcoff had his number called on three straight plays for gains of one and zero and finally with the help of two Bellwood-Antis penalties that for a total of three yards put the ball at the BA-one yard line, Slatcoff got the final yard for the touchdown. The score stayed at 6-0 when a Rambler penalty moved the ball back five yards and Eric Brubaker broke through to block the PAT kick by Mock.

— The Bellwood-Antis defense kept a small, but super quick Rambler team out of the endzone on two prior trips inside the BA-five. On offense, the Blue Devils were never able to break out and get going, gaining a season-low 94 yards total offense after averaging 291.5 yards per game during the regular season.

— Late in the second quarter, after B-A defensive end Ryan McCartney knocked down a pass attempt, Slatcoff delivered the first big bomb, completing a pass to Jarrod Mock behind the Blue Devil defense for a 50-yard gain to the BA-nine. Mock fumbled the ball on the tackle, but Windber had all the luck on this day. John Kolson recovered the ball for the Ramblers. The Blue Devil defense stepped it up a notch, limiting Windber to four yards on three running plays and Slatcoff missed an open receiver on fourth down to end the threat. Slatcoff completed eight of 16 passes for 122 yards total, but with the exception of the two long completions was held to just 34 yards passing on 14 attempts.

— Near the end of the third quarter, Windber began at the BA-42. Slatcoff had two runs for 17 yards, John Kolson a six yard pickup and Steve Pitera had seven yards on two carries as the Ramblers drove to the BA-five. With a first-and-goal, Windber lost two yards when Eric Brubaker tackled Pitera in the backfield. Windber got hit by a holding penalty and motion penalty on consecutive plays and B-A defensive tackle Josh Rosella sacked Slatcoff for a 14-yard loss that took the ball back to the BA-39. On a fourth down and goal at the 36, Slatcoff passed to Curlej for a four yard gain and Bellwood-Antis took over.

— “Our kids played with tremendous courage with their backs to the wall down there a couple times,” said Bellwood-Antis coach John Hayes. “They did a heck of a job. Unfortunately, they just couldn’t change the field postion. We had some things that were almost big plays, but we never quite got it.”

— Most of the second half was played in Bellwood-Antis territory. The Blue Devils could manage to get into the Windber side of the field for just four plays in the final two quarters, never inside the Ramblers-44. At the W-44, with a fourth and seven. B-A quarterback Jesse Graham rolled right and tried to complete a pass that Slatcoff stepped in front and intercepted with time running out.

— On the first series of the second half, B-A had a fourth and inches at the BA-47 after four and five-yard pickups by Adam Plummer. Graham tried to move the pile on a quarterback sneak, but the Windber defense held and took over near midfield.

— “We are a power football team and we needed to take a chance there,” said coach Hayes. “We needed to get some momentum. That one play turned the field position at that point in their favor for the rest of the game. I thought we had more yardage. We got driven back on the play. I think in all of that we may have lost some forward progress. The officials were doing their job, I have no complaints about the officiating. We should have made that by more than the inch we didn’t get it by. It was only one play, but was a tremendous turnaround for the rest of the game. Windber played practically errorless football. When they did make an error, they fumbled several times, but recovered all of them themselves. At this level, usually when a team does that, they tend to win.”

— The best offensive series for Bellwood-Antis came on the Blue Devils third offensive series in the first half. Bellwood-Antis took over at their own 49. Plummer got four on the first try and Derrick Miller picked up four more on second down. Jesse Graham moved the sticks for a first down with an eight-yard completion over the middle to senior tight end Ryan McCartney. Bellwood-Antis completed only two passes all night. Graham tossed a long pass down the right sideline that appeared to be pulled in on a spectacular catch by Ryan Myers inside the W-10. The officials ruled no catch, but Windber was flagged for interference that moved the ball to the Ramblers-18. Two running plays and a sack later, Windber dodged a bullet when Dan Graham’s 42-yard field goal attempt was short. Windber was whistled for roughing the kicker on the attempt, however, and the ball moved inside the W-15 accompanied by an automatic first down. Unfortunately for the B-A faithful, the very next play saw a mishandled pitch to the outside turn into a recovered fumble and the Ramblers had survived the deepest Devil drive of the night.

— “We achieved most of our goals this year,” said Hayes. “We certainly wanted to qualify for districts. We had two tough losses in the year. We played some good people and in both games we were there almost. Both teams are undefeated and are going to play each other next week, so we will see what happens there. Our season was something that was a lot of enjoyment for the coaches and players. The kids played good ball and I am real proud of the way they conducted themselves. It was a year in which the coaches could enjoy going to practice and working with the kids. From the standpoint of a coach, I certainly would like to be playing next week, but I’m not disappointed with anything that happened through the course of the year, except that we were short on two scores.”

— Adam Plummer led the Blue Devils, who finish 8-2, with 58 yards on 13 carries, Cory Daly added 11 carries for 35 yards. Jesse Graham completed two of 13 passes for 18 yards.

— Adam Plummer, Matt Plummer, Josh Rosella, Ryan Myers and Ryan McCartney led the Blue Devil defense that limited Windber to less than three yards per carry rushing with 97 yards on 37 carries.

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