Week 6: Gators outlast Wolverines to stay in AML North race

Lori Chase
Port Allegany Reporter Argus
October 15, 2009

From the opening onside kick to the last touchdown pass, Port Allegany and Sheffield treated the crowd at Gator Field to a wildly entertaining game last Saturday afternoon. When the assault on the scoreboard finally ended, Port High owned a 42-27 victory to move to 5-1 on the season, setting up an Oct. 17 showdown with unbeaten Cameron County which will go a long way toward deciding the Allegheny Mountain League North title.

With leading rusher Seth Lowery limited to five carries and Camrin Stuckey out for the game, the focus of the Gator offense turned to seniors Ryan Bodamer and Lucas Kline, and the co-captains didn’t disappoint. They hooked up for the first score of the game on Port’s opening drive, with Kline taking the handoff on a double reverse and lofting a 27-yard touchdown pass to Bodamer.

Kline was just getting warmed up. The 6-1 tight end finished the game with four catches for 166 yards, including touchdowns of 66, 55, and 18 yards from quarterback Matt Bodamer, who went 8-for-12 for 164 yards on the day.

“Lucas can outjump most of those kids, and he outsized most of them,” Port High coach Mike Bodamer said. “So the basic call was, ‘Matt, same formation, throw it to Lucas,’ and it worked almost every time … Keep going to it until they stop it.”

When Matt wasn’t throwing it, he was handing off to elder brother Ryan, who pounded the Wolverine defense for a career-best 183 yards on 29 carries.

“Ryan ran hard. He got stuffed a couple of times, but in the fourth quarter, he started breaking some nice runs for us,” coach Bodamer said.

Port jumped out in front early, with Kline’s first touchdown catch giving them a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter. Sheffield showed no sign of going away quietly, though, responding with Khalil Slaughter’s 40-yard touchdown run to get on the scoreboard.

The offensive fireworks continued in the second quarter, with Ryan Bodamer taking a direct snap and rushing for an eight-yard touchdown, and the visitors answering with Jim Hahn’s 30-yard halfback option pass to a wide-open Nick Bonavita. The second long Bodamer-to-Kline connection, this one from 55 yards out, made it 28-14 Gators at the half.

But while the crowd may have been satisfied with a two-touchdown lead, the Wolverines weren’t about to let it stay that way. On their first possession of the second half, quarterback Craig Fitch managed to elude the onrushing Gators and fire a pass downfield to Slaughter. The speedy Sheffield running back adjusted to the underthrown ball, picked up a block, and took off down the sideline for a 61-yard touchdown. The fourth quarter opened with another long Fitch touchdown pass, this one good for 88 yards to running back Jasper Rentas, and suddenly, the Wolverines were down 28-27 and lining up for a two-point conversion to take the lead.

However, Hahn’s pass fell incomplete, and the Gators regained control of the game with an 11-play, 65-yard drive that burned over five minutes off the clock before Matt Bodamer’s three-yard keeper and Tyler Burr’s extra point gave them a 35-27 cushion. Ryan Bodamer carried the ball six times for 41 yards and two crucial third-down conversions on the drive.

“I was pleased with the offense. We didn’t seem to panic – Matt hit some passes to Lucas, and Ryan ran well in the fourth quarter to ice the game,” coach Bodamer said.

Brock Taylor and Benn Baxter combined for the Gators’ sixth sack on the day – and Baxter’s third – to end the next Sheffield drive, another long Bodamer run moved the ball deep into Wolverine territory, and Kline’s third touchdown catch with just 1:26 remaining finally sealed the win.

First-year Sheffield coach Bryan Gould was understandably disappointed with the outcome, but pleased with his team’s effort: “When we went down two scores early, they never gave up the entire game,” he said. “We kept battling back, and battling back. A couple of things didn’t go our way, but they never gave up, and I’m proud of them for that. I think we gave Port Allegany a pretty good game today.”

Now comes the game many area football fans have been waiting for, as Cameron County – one of just two undefeated teams remaining in the Big 30 – visits Gator Field for an 11:00 a.m. Homecoming kickoff. Setting aside playoff games, the Red Raiders haven’t lost to an AML team since Johnsonburg managed the feat in the 2006 season finale.

“Emporium’s for real,” said Bodamer, who watched them dismantle Otto-Eldred on Friday night. “Like I said at the beginning of the year, they’re definitely the favorite to win the district title again. Their quarterback, Jason Blose, threw some nice passes last night, and they’ve got a tough running game. They just line up and try to run it down your throat. And they’re extremely large, so hopefully out little guys can hold up. But we usually play them pretty tough, so we’ll see what happens. These kids know we can play with them.”

S PA

First Downs 11 17

Rushes-Yards 27-73 50-218

Passing Yards 270 191

C-A-I 10-23-0 9-13-1

Total Yards 343 409

Fumbles-Lost 4-1 3-2

Punts-Avg 4-32.8 3-24.0

Penalties-Yards 7-91 11-100

Plays 50 63

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