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Bellefonte Drives Over Penns Valley for 14-8 Win

Written by: on Friday, September 3rd, 2010

By Bill Albright
PAFootball Writer

SPRING MILLS — The two schools are in different classes (Bellefonte is AAA and Penns Valley is AA) and although they both play in the Mountain League, they compete in different divisions.

However, Friday night at Ram Stadium, that didn’t keep Penns Valley and Bellefonte from slugging it out in the season opener for both squads.

One year ago, the Rams came away with a 22-0 win. Friday night, it was a case of turnabout is fair play as the Raiders defeated the Rams by the final of 14-8.

For Bellefonte first-year head coach Duffy Besch, the victory was especially satisfying.

“I was asked earlier in the week and I said that I hadn’t really thought about it,” said Besch. “Up until about an hour before game time, I still hadn’t thought about it. But when we came onto the field and started warmups it was almost surreal. To be able to help this group of kids, this group of seniors that have been working hard for since January, right now, I can’t even put it into words.”

As for the deciding factor in the game, veteran Penns Valley coach Marty Tobias felt it was a matter of execution and making plays that decided the issue.

“It was a real slugfest,” said Tobias. “Both teams went toe-to-toe and the key was they (Bellefonte) made the plays when they had to and we didn’t.”

After a scoreless first period that featured good drives by both teams that came up short of the end zone, Penns Valley drew first blood when Mike Owens, who rushed 26 times for 135 yards, capped a 67-yard, 6-play march with a 13-yard scamper for the game’s first touchdown. Kevin Montminy’s rush for two gave the Rams an 8-0 lead.

In the first half, the Ram’s ground game seemed almost unstoppable at times with Owens in charge, but in the second half, it was a different story with the exception of one drive.

“They (Penns Valley) really used their line blocking well in the first half,” said Besch. “They got us out of position and were able to do some things to us. But we made some adjustments with the defensive line, put them in a few different looks and I think that really helped us.”

Not to be awed by the Ram score, the Raiders took the ensuing kickoff and went right to work.

Operating from their own 45-yard line, the Raiders put their offense in high gear as they covered the 55 yards in nine plays. Nate Schultz did the honors from 12 yards out when he skirted his own left end for Bellefonte’s first points of the season with 7:01 left in the first half. Schultz, like Owens, was a busy back as he carried the ball 23 times for 131 yards and both Raider touchdowns.

Electing to go for two, Raider quarterback Tyler Lucas found Torin Miller in the right corner of the end zone for the 2-point conversion and that is the way the first half ended.

With the game deadlocked at 8-all heading into the second half, the Rams again went to work offensively on the ground as they moved the ball from their own 29-yard stripe to a first-and-goal at the Raider 9-yard line.

Three plays netted absolutely nothing, and on fourth down, Owens was stopped inches short of the end zone and the Raiders took over on their own 1-yard line.

During the season, Besch and his troops hope to have many good drives, but none will be any better than the one the Raiders put together following the defensive stop.

Taking over in the shadows of their own end zone, eleven plays and 99 yards later, Schultz went in from five yards for what would be the winning score. Big plays on the drive were a pair of pass plays, the first covering 37 yards from Lucas to Malik Breon on a third-and-10 play while the second was a hookup from Lucas to Matt Watson for 36 yards that carried to the Ram 15.

“That was probably the biggest gut-check for us,” said Besch of his team digging itself out of the hole. “I have asked them all year since we started heat acclimation what we can do to make us different than any other team. But in the end, that (the drive) is a tribute to them. That is where senior leadership comes in, being cool under fire and not getting rattled. All of the things you talk about and preach to them, they put into motion tonight and especially in that drive.”

For the final 11 minutes of the game, neither team seriously threatened as the defensive units of both squads took over until the final seconds ran off the clock after Raider defensive standout Brad Grieb, who was in the Ram backfield all night long, tackled Ram quarterback Sam Snyder for a 5-yard loss.

Now 1-0, the Raiders will travel to Martinsburg for a tough matchup with Central Friday night, while the Rams will also hit the pavement to Mifflintown to battle Juniata. Kickoff for both games is set for 7 p.m.

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