Port Allegany Reporter Argus
October 22, 2009
All season long, the Port Allegany football team has depended on quickness and agility to counteract the disparity in size it faced along both lines. But following an early-season snowfall, any advantage in speed disappeared into the layer of mud coating Gator Field for Saturday morning’s Homecoming game against undefeated Cameron County, and the laws of physics took over.
And with 1,000-yard rusher Andy Lippert in the Red Raiders’ backfield, behind an offensive line which averaged over 220 pounds per player, well …
“The ball would be snapped and we’d collide and our kids would just start sliding backward,” Gators coach Mike Bodamer said after watching Lippert power his way to 190 yards on 27 carries in Cameron County’s hard-fought 14-7 victory. “Nothing more than size – they’re just bigger, and Lippert’s so low to the ground you can’t get a good hit on him. We’d hit him and just bounce off him and he’d keep going. And (Jason) Blose had a couple of big runs with that quarterback sneak. They’ve got two good runners, and in these conditions, with their size, they’re definitely going to move us.”
Adam Greenman’s fumble recovery on the first play from scrimmage gave Port a chance to take an early lead, but the offense couldn’t gain any traction on the slippery turf, turning the ball over on downs.
“When Matt (Bodamer) came back to the sideline after that first series, I told him, ‘We’re going to have to throw the ball if we want to win this game,’” coach Bodamer said.
The Gators did just that on their next series with better success, driving inside the Raiders’ 5-yard line on two Bodamer-to-Lucas Kline completions. The drive stalled there, though, and Cameron County blocked a field goal attempt to keep the game scoreless.
“I think that set the tone,” Red Raiders coach John Fragale said. “They stuffed us on our first possession (after the fumble) and got good field position out of it, and Port just drove it down. Our defense rose to the occasion and stopped them from going in, and they had to try that field goal. On a day like today, the kicking game’s not there very good.”
Early in the second quarter, Blose capped off a nine-play, 80-yard drive – all on the ground, with Lippert accounting for 70 of those yards – with a 1-yard touchdown run. Neither offense was able to move the ball after that, and Cameron County took a 6-0 lead into the locker room.
The Port offense came alive midway through the third quarter, with Seth Lowery pounding the ball down to the Raiders’ 15 before Bodamer (10-for-18, 129 yards) hit Kline on a quick slant near the left sideline. The tight end cut inside and carried the ball into the end zone, and Tyler Burr added the extra point to put the Gators in front, 7-6, late in the third quarter.
That’s when Lippert took over the game, breaking free for double-digit gains on three consecutive plays before rumbling the final three yards for the go-ahead touchdown and adding the two-point conversion for good measure.
“Andy’s our workhorse, and he’s just a heck of a runner,” Fragale said. “He’s tough; he’s a tough-nosed kid. He’s got one – not one speed, he’s just got one attitude. He’s just a fantastic football player, a coach’s dream back there.”
“I knew as soon as we scored, they were going to come back and go power football. Whether or not we could stop them … we just couldn’t do it,” Bodamer said.
Trailing 14-7 early in the fourth quarter, Port had one more chance to mount a comeback. But the Red Raiders defense stopped them near midfield, and the Gators never touched the ball again.
“One of the things we wanted to do more of in the second half was get more pressure on the quarterback, and we did a good job responding after they did get the touchdown,” said Cameron County defensive coordinator Mark Morelli. “We started to crank it up a little more in terms of blitzes and different looks in the fronts, and our secondary needed to tighten up their coverage a little bit. Fortunately we came away with a couple of big sacks midway through the fourth quarter to put them in the hole, and we were able to take control of the game from there.”
“It was a heck of a ballgame,” Fragale concluded. “We knew coming over here that Port’s got a good football team; they were very aggressive and they play a lot like us, and I knew we were going to be in for it. Plus, with the weather on top of it … I think people had a very good game to watch today. We were fortunate to get out of here with the victory.
“Great game. I think everybody got their money’s worth today.”
The loss may have ended Port’s hopes for winning the AML North title, but the Gators (5-2) did clinch a District 9 playoff berth over the weekend, and coach Bodamer wouldn’t mind seeing the Red Raiders (7-0) again.
“That’s the defending District 9 champs and they’re just as good this year, and I think we definitely proved to people that we can stay with these teams. I expect both them and Curwensville to be in the AML title game, and we actually could have beaten both of them if we didn’t have our mistakes at certain times.
“I think our kids got a lot of confidence (today); I know they’re mad they didn’t win, but there’s nothing to hang their heads about.”
Before any playoff talk can begin, though, there’s a road trip to always-tough Coudersport this Friday night before next week’s regular-season finale at Otto-Eldred. The Falcons share an identical 5-2 record with the Gators and have piled up the yards with their flex-bone offense this season, and the winner of this week’s game may well host a rematch in the district quarterfinal round. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. at C.A.R.P. Field.
At Port Allegany, Oct. 17:
Score by quarters:
CC 0 6 0 8 – 14
PA 0 0 7 0 – 7
CC – Blose 1 run; run failed, 6-0
PA – Kline 15 pass from M. Bodamer; Burr kick, 7-6 PA
CC – Lippert 3 run; Lippert run, 14-7 CC
First Downs 17 7
Rushes-Yards 50-283 20-13
Passing Yards 12 129
C-A-I 3-8-1 10-18-0
Total Yards 295 142
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 0-0
Punts-Avg 3-30.3 3-24.0
Penalties-Yards 5-35 4-25
Plays 58 38