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