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Bellwood-Antis leaves Juniata Valley in the dust

Written by: on Saturday, September 21st, 2013

As the players warmed up you couldn’t help but notice one thing, it obviously hadn’t rained on the natural grass football field in Alexandria, Pa (home of the Juniata Valley Green Hornets) in quite some time.  By the midway point of the game between the Green Hornets and the Blue Devils of Bellwood-Antis, the near full moon was barely visible as if it had been swallowed by a cloud of dust.  That cloud was created by the ground and pound-running game of the Blue Devils as they amassed nearly 400 yards on 41 carries en-route to a 48-35 win, led by full back Tanner Snyder’s 192 yards on 16 carries.

The game got off to a slow start as both teams traded punts, then on the 4th series of the game Snyder and tailback Casey Gray, who chipped in 167 yards on 21 carries for 3 scores plus a 34 yard td reception, started churning up the dry ground. Gray finished the 8 play drive on a 1 yard plunge and the Blue Devils led 7-0.  Wanting to chew up as much clock as they could, Blue Devil coach John Hayes dialed up a little trickery on the ensuing kick.  An onside kick was recovered by Tyson Miller giving Bellwood the ball on their 47. The drive of 7 plays ended with a Gray 20 yard touchdown run to make it 14-0 in the first quarter.

“Yeah, they give us trouble every year so we wanted to try and chew up as much clock as we could in the game to keep their quarterback off the field. We didn’t think some of those runs would be so quick, but you don’t take them back” said Hayes of his team’s efforts.

And quick it got. Following turnovers by both teams to start the 2nd quarter, Bellwood stuffed Juniata Valley at its own 8 yard line. A 12 yard punt put the ball at the 20 and 2 plays later fullback Jake Stapleton punched through the line for the score. Bellwood again scored in the second quarter to take a 28-0 lead and it looked like the rout was on.

The Blue Devil defense, led by linebacker Zach Mock with 7 solo tackles on the night, stuffed the Hornets nearly the entire first half giving Bellwood excellent field position from which to work while holding the Hornets to just 23 yards of offense until, on the last drive of the first half, Hornet punter Sam Singer tucked the ball in and ran 25 yards for a first down. Quarterback Caleb Taylor, who to this point had been held to just 2 of 9 passing for 22 yards and an interception, turned up his game. The third year senior field general hit a wide open Sam Gildea in the endzone with just 20 seconds left in the half. The point after closed the gap to 28-7.

The second half of the game turned into a track meet as both teams churned up huge clouds of dust while amassing nearly 400 yards of offense and 34 points. “I was a little disappointed defensively, actually both defenses kinda disappeared there in the second half. You relax for a minute or two and you’re beat. We gotta work on that”  said Hayes of the explosion of offense in the later part of the game. Snyder and Gray carried the Blue Devils 66 yards on the opening drive with Gray finding the endzone on a 3 yard carry. With a 35-7  lead the Blue Devil defense, which had been so dominant in the first half, disappeared. The Green Hornets marched  down the field on the ensuing drive, using 11 plays mostly on the legs of fullback Jesse Claar with Claar finishing the drive on a 1 yard run. Claar had 96 yards on the ground, 3 receptions for 113 yards and 4 scores on the night.

The teams traded scoring possessions the rest of the game. Bellwood went 2 plays scoring on a 36 yard Snyder dash up the middle. Juniata returned the favor on a 3 play drive highlighted by a 60 yard Taylor/Claar connection to the Blue Devil one, followed by a 1 yard scoring run by Claar to make it 42-21. “He’s just a great athlete, it just took us too long to get him rolling” said Green Hornet coach Mike Smith. Claar scored all four Green Hornet touchdowns in the second half, including a 34 yard scoring strike from Taylor. As the dust settled on the field after the final seconds ticked away, Bellwood-Antis coach Hayes summed up his teams win: “you never can have enough points, we were just happy to have a few more than they did.” Bellwood-Antis faces another tough team next week as they travel to 4-0 Mount Union for another key match up in the middle of a 3 game road streak.


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