D9 quarterfinals: Cameron County 29, Port A 22

Lori Chase
Port Allegany Reporter Argus
November 19, 2009

After his Cameron County football team held on to beat Port Allegany by a touchdown in their regular-season meeting, head coach John Fragale said, “I think everybody got their money’s worth today.”

If that was the case, then they could have charged double the price for last Friday night’s District 9 playoff rematch in Emporium. Minus the foul weather that turned Port’s Homecoming into a slogfest, the two teams combined for well over 700 yards of total offense and several big plays in a game whose outcome was in doubt until the final second ticked off the clock.

But in the end, after Camrin Stuckey’s 26-yard field goal tied the game to complete a furious Gator comeback late in the fourth quarter, it was the Red Raiders who made the plays that counted. Taking over at their own 40 with less than two minutes remaining, quarterback Jason Blose broke loose on a long scramble to set up Andy Lippert’s 10-yard touchdown run, making it 29-22 Cameron County with just 0:44.6 left. The Gators quickly moved back into CCHS territory, but as time expired, a final pass attempt into the end zone fell incomplete, sending the third-seeded Red Raiders (10-1) on their way to next weekend’s semifinal game against No. 2 Clarion (8-3).

“One minute and fifteen seconds,” Port coach Mike Bodamer said quietly afterward. “I thought we would have had a chance to go to overtime, but we just couldn’t stop the long run. Time after time after time, they just popped that long run on us.”

Blose did most of the damage, starting with a 54-yard run on the Red Raiders’ first series. Stuckey made a touchdown-saving tackle at the Gator 6-yard line, but three plays later, the Red Raider quarterback powered into the end zone to give his team an early 7-0 lead.

“He sees things that a lot of people don’t, and he’s got the green light if he sees it. That’s what he did on the last drive; he saw that opening, and boom, he took it,” Fragale said of his junior signalcaller, who led all rushers with 165 yards on 17 carries.

The home team quickly doubled that lead on its next possession, when fullback Tanner Johnson broke through the line of scrimmage and outran the Gator defense to the end zone for a 79-yard touchdown. The extra point made it 14-0, and it looked like the game might quickly get out of hand.

But on a dry field, this was a far different Port offense than the one which managed just 13 rushing yards in the earlier meeting. Two Matt Bodamer passes quickly moved the ball deep into Cameron County territory, and as the first quarter ended, the Gators faced fourth-and-goal a foot away from paydirt.

Those last few inches didn’t come without a battle. The Gators fumbled, and the outcome of the play wasn’t determined until lineman Adam Greenman came out of the pile with the ball and the officials signaled for a touchdown. Seth Lowery’s extra point narrowed the margin to 14-7, and after Cameron County turned the ball over on downs, the Port offense went back to work. Bodamer was on target, going 3-for-4 and capping off a nine-play, 66-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Stuckey. This time, though, the extra point was blocked, and the half ended with the score 14-13.

The Red Raiders quickly moved to reassert order as the third quarter began, with Lippert’s 4-yard touchdown run finishing off a 74-yard drive. Blose found tight end Ryan Grimm for the two-point conversion, opening up a 22-13 lead and forcing the Gators to score twice to catch them.

“I said, ‘They’re going to come out in the power-I and run the ball right at us,’ and that’s exactly what they did,” Bodamer said.

Following a Port three-and-out, the Red Raiders pounded the ball back down inside the Gator 10. But as the fourth quarter began, the Orange and Black defense stiffened, and Blose’s fourth-down pass fell incomplete to turn the ball over on downs.

Ninety-one yards from the end zone, the Gator no-huddle went to work. Zach Ramadhan and Lucas Kline came up with huge third-down receptions to keep the drive going, and Stuckey’s fifth catch of the night was good for a 31-yard touchdown to put Port back into the game at 22-19.

“They did a good job,” Fragale said. “That passing game of theirs has really come on strong in the last part of the season.”

The defense did its job again on the following possession, forcing a punt, and Port took over at its own 40 with 5:10 on the clock and the lead squarely in its sights. Matt Bodamer found brother Ryan open for a critical third-down conversion to keep the drive alive, and after a late hit on the play tacked on another 15 yards, the Gators were in business at the Red Raiders’ 24. From there, the younger Bodamer took matters into his own hands on a fourth-down bootleg that barely edged past the first-down marker. Five more yards put the ball at the CCHS 9, and coach Bodamer called timeout to have a “strong talk” with the line before Stuckey’s pressure-filled kick.

Whatever he said must have worked, because this time, the Red Raiders didn’t get there. The field goal would have been good from 40, and with just over a minute and a half remaining, the score was knotted at 22.

That’s when Blose broke free for his second big run of the night, a 44-yard scramble to put Cameron County on the move.

“I was hashing going into overtime,” Fragale said. “I didn’t know whether to play it or not; I didn’t want to give them a turnover. We had a pass play called there when Jason broke that, but once he got down the field, it was gametime. We were going to go for it, and the kids showed what they were made of.”

“That quarterback sneak killed us all night long,” Bodamer admitted. “He’d get the ball, wrap around, and take off. That should never happen; our run defense was just poor. We wanted them to throw the ball, we were trying to stop the run so they’d have to throw, but … For most of the game we did pretty well, but those six or seven long runs just killed us. We didn’t have enough firepower or enough time to keep coming back.”

Before he headed to the locker room to talk to his team, Bodamer offered a final thought on his Gators, who concluded their season at 6-4:

“I just don’t like the way it ended. Not so much for me, it doesn’t bother me, but for the kids … to score in the last minute, that’s just a heartbreaker. I would have much rather lost in overtime if it came to that, but you can’t go back in history now. Hopefully these kids can learn from it, and we’ll be here again next year, and see what we can do.”

Score by quarters:
PA 0 13 0 9 – 22
CC 14 0 8 7 – 29

First quarter:
Cameron County (6:21) – Blose 1 run, Bardo kick, 7-0 CC
Cameron County (3:43) – Johnson 79 run, Bardo kick, 14-0

Second quarter:
Port Allegany (11:49) – Greenman recovered fumble in end zone, Lowery kick, 14-7
Port Allegany (4:33) – Stuckey 11 pass from M. Bodamer, kick blocked, 14-13

Third quarter:
Cameron County (7:51)– Lippert 4 run, Grimm pass from Blose, 22-13

Fourth quarter:
Port Allegany (8:39) – Stuckey 31 pass from M. Bodamer, 22-19
Port Allegany (1:36) – Stuckey 27 FG, 22-22
Cameron County (0:44) – Lippert 10 run, Bardo kick, 29-22

First Downs 15 15
Rushes-Yards 33-104 44-401
Passing Yards 219 15
Comp-Att-Int 11-23-0 2-11-0
Total Yards 323 416
Penalties 4-31 11-105
Punts-Average 2-30.0 2-28.5
Fumbles-Lost 4-1 3-0
Plays 56 55

Gators begin D9 football playoffs Friday night

Lori Chase
Port Allegany Reporter Argus
November 12, 2009

Mike Bodamer knew his Gator football team had a game to play this weekend, but not the identity of the opponent. Curwensville provided that answer last Friday, edging Cameron County 6-0 for the Allegheny Mountain League title and knocking the Red Raiders down to the No. 3 seed in the District 9 Class A quarterfinals. That puts the Port Allegany team bus on the road to Emporium Friday afternoon, Nov. 13, for a 7 p.m. kickoff at the CCHS field.

While the Gators waited to see where they were headed, they took advantage of an unofficial bye week to do a little fine-tuning – and heal some nicks and bruises.

“It was definitely good to rest up,” Bodamer admitted. “We had a couple of nagging injuries, but they seem to be okay now. We didn’t get a lot done because we didn’t know who we were playing, but we worked on the offense a little bit, and did a little conditioning to keep them in shape.”

Cameron County has won the last four games in the longstanding series between the two schools, but three of those four have been by margins of a touchdown or less, including a 14-7 final at Gator Field last month. When asked if there was any reason not to expect another close outcome, the Port High mentor replied with a chuckle, “I definitely hope not.”

Then, turning serious, he added, “They have a very physical team. If Andy Lippert breaks a couple of runs, we could be in big trouble, so the defense has to hold them out. And in the last couple of games, I think we’ve only scored twice, so the offense definitely needs to step it up and put the ball in the end zone more than once if we’re going to have a chance at it.”

The Red Raiders’ offense revolves around Lippert; the senior tailback has rushed for 1,243 yards and 16 touchdowns this season, and added another 108 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions. Junior quarterback Jason Blose (91 carries – 483 yards, 5 TDs) also contributes to a rushing attack currently averaging a gaudy 241.7 yards per game. Blose doesn’t throw the ball often, attempting more than nine passes just once this season, but seven of his 29 completions – three each to Ryan Grimm and Vince Summers, the team’s top two receivers – were good for touchdowns.

Although the Red Raiders had one of the most potent offenses in the league this year, the Golden Tide managed to shut them down Friday night, allowing just 55 yards of total offense and keeping them out of the end zone.

“They (Curwensville) were just very physical. Lippert only ran 13 times, which kind of surprised me. I think he had 30-some carries against us. I’m sure they’ll go back to that,” said Bodamer, who made the long drive to Clearfield County to scout the game.

The CCHS defense is led by linebackers Andrew Fragale (77 tackles, 4 sacks, 1 INT, 3 fumble recoveries through nine regular-season games), Lippert (63 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 INT, 3 fumble recoveries), and Tanner Johnson (57 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries). The AML’s stingiest squad in 2009, Cameron County has allowed just 8.4 points per game, including a single touchdown in each of the last four weeks.

The Gators counter with a balanced offense, rushing for 1,415 yards and passing for 1,064 this season. Junior fullback Seth Lowery led the team with 749 rushing yards and 6 TDs on 141 attempts, including a career-best 34-carry, 209-yard performance in the win over Kane, with senior Ryan Bodamer (91 carries-373 yards, 2 TDs) also making a significant contribution to the ground game.

After coming in during the second quarter of the season opener against Curwensville, freshman quarterback Matt Bodamer kept the starting job, completing 56 of 93 passes for a AML North-high 1,010 yards and 12 touchdowns. The young signalcaller spread the ball around in Port’s no-huddle attack, with Lucas Kline (19 catches-463 yards, 6 TDs), Camrin Stuckey (16-337, 3 TDs), and Ryan Bodamer (18-202, 4 TDs) each hauling in their share of passes.

The elder Bodamer also leads the defense with 104 tackles, two interceptions, and four forced fumbles from his strong safety spot, with linebackers Zach Ramadhan (71 tackles, 1 fumble recovery) and Lowery (67 tackles, 1 INT, 2 fumble recoveries) and linemen Adam Greenman, James Nellis (4 sacks each) and Lucas Kline (3 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries, two defensive TDs) making big plays up front.

As the defending district champions, Cameron County is used to a playoff atmosphere. How does Bodamer plan to counteract that edge?

“We’ve been telling the kids to go back to the first game we played, and learn from that,” he said. “We definitely can’t rely on any type of playoff experience. We’ve been telling them, this is just Game 2. We’ve faced them once; we’re not considering this a playoff game, it’s just another game against Cameron County. We’ve played them once, we know what we did wrong, we know what we have to do, and we’ll go from there.”

Mickle, Bova still making their mark

Lori Chase
Port Allegany Reporter Argus
November 12, 2009

Four years after concluding their Port Allegany High School football careers, two former Gator teammates continue to make their mark both on the gridiron and in the classroom.

Brian Mickle, a senior defensive end at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was one of five Engineers players recently named to the Academic All-District First Team (College Division) for the New England region. The award also places his name on the ballot to be considered for CoSIDA/ESPN the Magazine’s Academic All-American squad, which will be announced later this month.

Mickle, a three-year starter for MIT and already a two-time New England Football Conference All-Academic selection, currently carries a 3.80 GPA as a finance major.

A few hours to the west, with one game remaining, Thiel College quarterback Willie Bova has almost completed his assault on the Tomcats’ record book. After throwing for 373 yards — one off his own single-game mark — and four touchdowns to guide the Tomcats to a 38-14 decision over St. Vincent two weeks ago, earning his second Presidents’ Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week award this season and third overall, he followed that performance by racking up another 350 yards through the air in a loss at Waynesburg.

Bova now owns the Thiel career marks for total (5,763) and passing yards (5,415) and completions (472), and should bypass the current record for attempts (854) with his seventh throw in Saturday’s home finale against Grove City.

AML Week 9: Gators down Terrors in playoff tuneup

Lori Chase
Port Allegany Reporter Argus
November 5, 2009

After two weeks of bad weather and good defense by their opponents combined to bog down the Port Allegany scoring attack, limiting them to their lowest point totals of the year in back-to-back losses to Cameron County and Coudersport, the Gator offense was due to break out in last Friday’s regular-season finale at Otto-Eldred.

The Terrors drew first blood on Drew Coscia’s six-yard touchdown run, but the next four scores – highlighted by an 81-yard hookup from Matt Bodamer to Camrin Stuckey – put the Gators in command for a convincing 34-12 victory to conclude their regular season at 6-3. Bodamer finished the night 12-for-18 for 208 yards and three touchdowns to break the 1,000-yard barrier for the season, while Stuckey’s six-catch, 165-yard night fell a single yard shy of matching Lucas Kline for the best single-game performance by a Port High receiver this year.

“We started out slow again in the first quarter, but that big pass play (Stuckey’s touchdown) kind of sparked us a little bit, and then another couple of quick ones right in a row opened it up for us,” head coach Mike Bodamer said.

Seth Lowery kicked the extra point to make the score 7-6, then came up with the ball on the ensuing kickoff to put the Gator offense right back on the field.

“It wasn’t an onside kick,” Bodamer explained. “We didn’t want Coscia or Justin Bird to return it, so we were trying to squib-kick it. Eldred didn’t pick it up, and a couple of our guys came flying down the sideline, and luckily the ball was still laying there.”

Following Lowery’s recovery, Port drove inside the Terror 10, where Matt Bodamer found elder brother Ryan open on a crossing route for the touchdown. The scoring onslaught continued on O-E’s next possession, when Kline – one of several passrushers pressuring the Terrors quarterback – snared a loose ball in midair and sprinted 37 yards with the interception for his team-leading eighth touchdown of the season. Lowery converted both extra points, and although they couldn’t cash in on another opportunity just before halftime, the Gators took a comfortable 21-6 lead into the locker room.

The third quarter opened with more of the same, as the Bodamer brothers connected for Ryan’s second touchdown catch of the game. Otto-Eldred countered on quarterback Noah Colbert’s one-yard keeper to cut the margin to 28-12, but Matt Bodamer’s 18-yard scramble capped the scoring to restore the Gators’ three-touchdown lead.

Now, the sixth-seeded Gators will keep practicing while waiting for the Allegheny Mountain League title tilt between Cameron County and Curwensville to decide where they’ll be headed in the opening round of the District 9 playoffs a week from Saturday. If the Red Raiders win to keep their unbeaten season intact, Coudersport will claim the No. 3 seed due to their 23-6 victory over the Golden Tide back in Week 3. But if Curwensville avenges their 19-18 overtime loss in Emporium to win the championship, Port will play at Cameron County instead.

Bodamer expects another tough game regardless of the opponent: “They’ll both try to pound the ball down our throats again,” he said. “Hopefully the conditions are better this time, and we can use our quickness to counter that. I don’t know whether or not we’ll be able to do it, but we’ll leave it out on the field.”

At Duke Center, Oct. 30:

PA 0 21 13 0 – 34

OE 6  0   6 0 – 12

First Quarter:
O-E – Drew Coscia 6 run; kick failed, 6-0 O-E

Second Quarter:
PA – Camrin Stuckey 81 pass from Matt Bodamer; Lowery kick, 7-6 PA
PA – Ryan Bodamer 7 pass from Matt Bodamer; Lowery kick, 14-6
PA – Lucas Kline 37 interception return; Lowery kick, 21-6

Third Quarter:
O-E – Noah Colbert 1 run; run failed, 21-12
PA – Ryan Bodamer 7 pass from Matt Bodamer; Lowery kick, 28-12

Fourth Quarter:
PA – Matt Bodamer18 run; kick failed, 34-12