Port Allegany Reporter Argus
August 12, 2010
As the final seconds of the Don Raabe Big 30 Charities Classic ticked off the scoreboard at Parkway Field and the New York sideline celebrated its 46-37 victory, a fireworks show lit up the Bradford sky beyond the western end zone.
But in reality, the fireworks began with the opening kickoff return almost four hours earlier and continued throughout a wildly entertaining evening of both teams trying to play “top that.” Before the night was over, the New York and Pennsylvania squads combined for a remarkable 16 plays covering 20 or more yards – including seven of their 11 touchdowns – in the second-highest-scoring game in 37 years of Raabe/Big 30 history. Only the 2003 shootout, won 56-40 by New York, racked up more than Saturday night’s 83-point total.
“Both offenses had big-play capability, and both coaches exploited each other’s defensive weakness, and that’s what happens when you run a 5-2 (mandatory defense),” New York coach Frank Brown said. “We tried to put some pressure on their quarterbacks and we were pretty successful early on, but they’ve got some players at the receiver spot.”
Of course, Brown’s team had some big-play artists of its own, beginning with Olean’s Ryan Carney. The 6-3 wide receiver, headed to JCC-Olean to play basketball, hooked up with Huskies teammate Kevin Stevens for scoring strikes of 49 and 32 yards on his way to a spectacular six-catch, 207-yard, three-touchdown performance. Stevens, a former Big 30 Player of the Year, finished the game 6-for-12 for 202 yards and three TD passes.
“In practice you could already see that these two guys really worked well together,” Brown said. “They were able to call audibles when they saw certain coverages, and you saw how we threw some fades to him. You cannot cover him one-on-one. In practice, a lot of times there were two guys hanging on him and he still came down with the ball. We knew he was a playmaker.”
West Valley’s Ben Boberg, the game’s leading rusher with 12 carries for 92 yards, added two long touchdowns as New York won for the first time in three years to increase its series lead to 19-16-2.
What made the offensive explosion even more amazing to watch was that it occurred despite a seemingly constant flurry of yellow flags. Even with a few declined calls and offsetting fouls not counting toward the total, the officiating crew set a Big 30 record of its own by marching off 223 yards on 23 penalties.
“I’m very disappointed at the penalties,” Pennsylvania coach Tony Tridico said. “I don’t think you can call that many holding penalties (seven accepted between the two teams) in a charity game where you’ve had two weeks to practice. That’s bush league to me. But other than that, it was a great game, great experience.”
Pennsylvania struck first, with Mike Rulander gathering in the opening kick, finding a seam in the middle of the coverage, and racing to the New York 16 to put the Empire State defense on its heels before most of the crowd had settled into their seats. After that, it only took three plays for Rulander’s Eisenhower teammate, quarterback Cody Crosby, to find Sheffield tight end Jimmy Hahn down the left sideline for the game’s first score.
“Sometimes it happens. Players make plays, and all-stars are going to make big plays. They made a bigger play than we did. They came and smacked us in the mouth on the first drive,” Brown admitted.
The Stevens-to-Carney combo landed a couple of haymakers of their own on the ensuing possession, hooking up twice for 74 yards to set up a first-and-goal situation, but Smethport nosetackle Jesse Isadore blocked a short field-goal attempt to keep the score 7-0. The defenses owned most of the rest of the first quarter, with New York forcing two turnovers and Pennsy stopping a fake field goal.
After that, though, the offenses started to hit their stride. Carney struck the first blow, outleaping two defenders to haul in a Stevens pass at the PA 30 and taking it in for the tying touchdown, then scored again on a drive aided by back-to-back roughing-the-punter penalties.
“The referee gods smiled on us,” Brown said.
Cameron County’s Andy Lippert answered with an 11-yard run to knot the game at 14. But late in the second quarter, Carney’s 28-yard punt return put New York back in business at the Pennsylvania 27, and they cashed in another touchdown pass with just 3.2 seconds remaining in the half to head into the locker room with an eight-point lead.
New York added another lightning-quick score on the opening drive of the third quarter, and when a Pennsylvania turnover led to Cody Gustin’s 44-yard field goal to put the New Yorkers up 32-14, it looked like a blowout in the making.
Not so fast. It was the Pennsy offense’s turn to make some big plays, with Kane wideout Arie Paup hauling in a 45-yard scoring toss from Crosby and Port High’s Lucas Kline snaring the pass for the two-point conversion. Another Lippert touchdown run made it 32-29, and the crowd on the home side of the field grew louder as they sensed the momentum swinging back the other way.
It didn’t last long. Carney – who else? – returned the ensuing kickoff out to near midfield, setting up New York’s next score, then added his third touchdown catch of the night on the opening play of the final quarter to give his team a comfortable 17-point cushion. From there, it was a matter of running out the clock before the Pennsy squad could catch up.
“This was what the Big 30 committee told me they wanted,” Brown said. “They wanted a fun game, and I thought this was a fun game.”
Tridico was obviously frustrated by the flagfest but still agreed with his counterpart, saying, “Two high-powered offenses going at it, there’s nothing to be ashamed about. This was a very good game … I think that’s what an all-star game should be.”
While disappointed with the penalties and nonplussed by the actions of some New York players at the end of the game, Kline still enjoyed taking part.
“Overall, it was really fun, a good experience, and I made a lot of new friends,” he said.
Teammate Ryan Bodamer seconded those thoughts and added, “It was nice being able to play with all the guys that I played against in my high school career. Great game.”
At Bradford, Pa., Aug. 7:
|Score by quarters:|
PA – Jimmy Hahn 16 pass from Cody Crosby; Cody Nuzzo kick, 7-0
NY – Ryan Carney 49 pass from Kevin Stevens; Cody Gustin kick, 7-7
NY – Carney 20 pass from Zac Roberts; Gustin kick, 14-7
PA – Andy Lippert 12 run; Nuzzo kick, 14-14
NY – Ben Boberg 27 pass from Stevens; Justin Taylor pass from Connor King, 22-14
NY – Boberg 55 run; Gustin kick, 29-14
NY – Gustin 44 field goal; 32-14
PA – Arie Paup 45 pass from Crosby; Lucas Kline pass from Crosby, 32-22
PA – Lippert 4 run; Nuzzo kick, 32-29
NY – Taylor 27 run; Gustin kick, 39-29
NY – Carney 32 pass from Stevens; Gustin kick, 46-29
PA – Crosby 1 run; Hahn pass from Crosby, 46-37