Tyrone may have been 2-2 going into last night’s game against Bellefonte at Gray-Veterans Memorial Field, but they hadn’t taken one on the chin, and there was a reason for that.
No matter what issues the Eagles had faced, they were always able to generate first downs, move the sticks, and if nothing else keep the opponent’s offense off the field for long stretches. A formula like that will keep a team in a lot of games, and that’s why even Tyrone’s two losses came down to the final play from scrimmage.
But Bellefonte was averaging almost 48 points per game over its last three, and there was a reason for that, as well. With offensive and defensive lines as good as any in the Mountain League, the Raiders had become quite good at preventing long drives, getting off the field defensively, and then opening holes for a stable of backs who could break one off at a moment’s notice.
In the end, the Raiders’ muscle won out in a 55-10 victory over the Golden Eagles.
Bellefonte ran for 332 yards, going for 8.5 yards per carry, and never once punted, scoring on 8 of their 12 possessions in the most lopsided loss for Tyrone under Coach John Franco.
“They have a strong running game. There’s no doubt about it,” said Franco, who team fell to 2-3 overall and 2-2 in the Mountain League in his first season back in the borough since 2011. “They have an excellent offensive line. We’re just trying to recover. We’re trying to get our team back together, and we’re struggling right now.”
Injuries have hampered Tyrone since Week 2, but never more so than last night, when the Eagles were forced to replace their entire linebacking unit after injuries last week to Corey Beck and Noah Zimmerman.
“We have to heal,” said Franco. “We’re so battered up right now. We’re trying to find people to play positions without putting sophomores into areas that’s going to get them hurt. We’ve got to get that taken care of first. We’ve got to get our bodies healed up and get people back into their normal position.”
Bellefonte never trailed and was never really threatened thanks to a running attack so relentless Coach Shannon Manning could seemingly plug in anyone and 10-yard runs would be the result. Senior CJ Funk led the Raiders with 162 yards and four touchdowns on 12 carries, but he was just one of five Bellefonte backs to gain at least 49 yards. Jacob Hummel also went over 100 yards, needing only three carries, while quarterback Ethan Rossman had 62 yards on 11 tries.
“Our offense becomes more about who’s getting the ball as opposed to exactly who’s getting the ball, meaning by position,” said Manning, whose team improved to 4-1 and remained undefeated in league play at 3-0. “The way the offense is geared, it goes through certain positions, and when we put the kids in, if they know what they’re doing, they’re able to execute and we’ll still pick up yardage.”
Funk had 117 yards by the end of the first quarter after the Raiders scored on their first two series. Tyrone moved the ball well after taking the opening kick, getting as far as Bellefonte’s 26 thanks to big pass plays from Brandon Lucas to Broc Zimmerman (19 yards) and Damon Gripp (14 yards). But the drive stalled on downs, and Funk broke loose for 26 yards on his first carry to get the ball into Tyrone territory. He ended the drive with a 20-yard run, and the first of seven PAT kicks from Dan Persiko made it 7-0.
Funk had runs of 25 and 16 yards on the Raiders’ next series, which ended with his 10-yard run for a score to make it 14-0 with 1:24 left in the first quarter.
A nine-play drive by Tyrone took the ball into the second quarter before Funk returned a punt 64 yards to the 12, setting up a 1-yard pass for a score from Rossman to Isiah Nadolsky to put Bellefonte up by three scores.
Tyrone responded with its best scoring chance of the half, advancing as far as the Raiders’ 1 on the heels of a 43-yard pass to Gripp. Aided by a pass interference penalty on fourth-and-goal, the Eagles had five cracks at the end zone, but two of them went for 1-yard losses, and the march ended when Lucas was stopped for a yard gain on fourth-and-2.
“The thing that upset me most was we didn’t score from the 1, and we just kept getting blown back,” said Franco. “That’s unacceptable for our team. We have to improve in that area, and we have a lot of areas to improve, there’s no doubt.”
Bellefonte’s goal line stand actually led to Tyrone’s first points, when, on second down from the 1, Matt Clifton and Dean Grassi came through on a blitz to sack Rossman for a safety, which had the Eagles down 21-2 at halftime.
Funk made it 27-2 with a 37-yard run on Bellefonte’s initial series of the third quarter, but Tyrone answered four minutes later with a 76-yard touchdown pass from Lucas to Gripp. Lucas then found Zimmerman on the try for two to make it 27-10 with 4:14 left in the third.
However, any hopes of a Tyrone comeback were quickly dashed as the Raiders went back to the ground on the ensuing drive. They used seven straight running plays, including a 44-yard burst from Jalen Emel to the Tyrone 27, to take a 34-10 lead on a 3-yard run from Funk out of wildcat formation.
Bellefonte would add three more scores in the fourth, each the result of a long run. Jacob Hummel hit first with a 53-yard dash, followed by a 49-yard run from Logan Houser. Ashton Kozel closed out the scoring with a 7-yard run that was set up after Hummel broke lose for 39 yards.
Bellefonte’s defense held Tyrone to a season-low 36 rushing yards on 25 attempts, and forced punts on six of the Eagles’ 11 possessions.
“It was good to get the win, but at the same time there were definite areas for us to improve,” said Manning, who cited his team’s eight penalties as spot of concern. “Sometimes I thought we were inconsistent up front, but I don’t want to take anything away from Tyrone. They had a lot to do with us having problems at times.”
Tyrone ends a three-game homestand next week against Bald Eagle Area on Homecoming, while Bellefonte hosts Clearfield in a Mountain League showdown that could determine the conference champion.
BELLEFONTE 55, TYRONE 10Score by Quarters Bellefonte 14 7 13 21 — 55 Tyrone 0 2 8 0 — 10
Scoring SummaryFirst Quarter B — Funk 20 run, (Persiko kick), 5:26 B — Funk 10 run, (Persiko kick), 1:24
Second Quarter B — Nadolsky 1 pass from Rossman, (Persiko kick), 7:20 T — Safety, (Rossman sacked in end zone), 2:10
Third Quarter B — Funk 37 run, (kick failed), 9:53 T — Gripp 76 pass from Lucas, (Zimmerman pass from Lucas), 4:14 B — Funk 3 run, (Persiko kick), 1:24
Fourth Quarter B — Hummel 53 run, (Persiko kick), 10:13 B — Houser 49 run, (Persiko kick), 7:48 B — Kozel 7 run, (Persiko kick), 2:39
Team Statistics B T
First Downs 23 6 Att-Yards Rushing 39-332 25-36 Pass Att.-Comp.-Int. 6-15-0 9-22-1 Passing Yards 85 177 Total Plays-Yards 54-417 47-213 Fumbles-Lost 1-0 0-0 Penalties-Yards 8-60 4-20 Punts-Average 0-0 6-31.5
Individual StatisticsRushing Bellefonte — Funk 12-162, Rossman 11-62, Emel 2-58, Hummel 3-111, Altiero 3-28, Capparelle 1-(-2), Way 2-13, Weaver 1-4, Kozel 1-7, Lehman 1-2, Houser 1-49, Team 1-(-5). Tyrone — Lucas 15-26, Clifton 3-1, Homan 1-4, Sprankle 4-6, Weaver 1-0, Team 1-(-1).
Passing Bellefonte — Rossman 6-of-15, 85 yds., TD. Tyrone — Lucas 9-of-19, 177 yds., TD.; Gwinn 0-of-3, 0 yds., Int.
Receiving Bellefonte — Nadolsky 1-1, Capparelle 3-57, Bauman 1-5, Grey 1-23. Tyrone — Gripp 7-150, Homan 1-8, Zimmerman 1-19.