Gators thump Sheffield to set up showdown at Cameron County

The stunning view from the new pressbox in Sheffield. The Gators didn't take much time to stop and enjoy the scenery, though, rolling up 41 first-half points on the way to a 50-6 victory.

Lori Chase
Port Allegany Reporter Argus
October 21, 2010

Once the Port Allegany Gators made the trek up “Wolverine Mountain,” it was all downhill for Sheffield.

An opportunistic Port defense made life miserable for their hosts in Saturday’s Allegheny Mountain League game, picking off four passes and keeping the overmatched Wolverines bottled up in their own end of the field for most of the afternoon, and the offense cashed in on six of seven first-half drives as the Gators romped to a 50-6 victory.

Four of those touchdowns came via the arm of Matt Bodamer, who started the scoring onslaught with a 10-yard bootleg on Port’s first possession and also snared one of their interceptions on defense. The sophomore quarterback completed 7-of-8 passes for 213 yards, in the process reaching the 1,000-yard milestone for the second consecutive season.

“They were in man-to-man, and he picked them apart,” head coach Mike Bodamer said. “He saw guys running down the middle of the field wide open and made the throws. We did what we were supposed to do. It’s nice to see that we actually accomplished what we were supposed to do.”

“We knew they can both throw and run; they can come at you any which way, and they’re a very tough team to defend,” Sheffield coach Bryan Gould said. “One missed assignment, and you saw the results – they had three big-play touchdowns in the first half, and that’s why the score was so lopsided.”

The Wolverines’ woes started on their first drive, when their punter’s knee touched the turf as he attempted to field a one-hop snap. The resulting turnover on downs handed the Gators the ball at the Sheffield 18, and it didn’t take them long to capitalize on the mistake. Two Seth Lowery runs set up third-and-short, and with the Sheffield defense crowding the line of scrimmage expecting another foray up the middle, Bodamer took the snap, rolled to his right, and headed for the end zone. Ken Kysor, who made it to the game just in time to complete a doubleheader after playing in the soccer team’s Senior Day win over Johnsonburg, added the extra point and the Gators were on the board.

“Any time you give – any team, really – when they’re playing on your side of the field, that’s a problem. Between that play and turnovers, in the first half, they played on our side of the field,” Gould said of the botched punt attempt. “I don’t care how good your defense is, if you give them a short field like that, they’re going to score.”

Port’s quick-strike offense moved even faster the next few times they touched the ball, with Bodamer following Wolverine punts with touchdown passes of 66 yards to Tyce Miller and 35 to Charlie Buchanan. The other Miller twin got into the act at that point, as Trey picked off Wolverine quarterback Ike Nearing’s pass at the Sheffield 47 and returned it all the way to the 14. Lowery capped that short drive by rumbling into the endzone from 11 yards out, and at the end of the first quarter, the Gators’ offensive stats looked like something out of a video game: Despite running just eight plays and holding the ball for a mere 2:20 out of the first 12 minutes, they led 27-0 before the Wolverines ever ventured across their own 40-yard line.

Sheffield eventually put a drive together, with Hunter Smith ending the shutout on a 3-yard run midway through the second quarter. But the Gators didn’t blink, responding with Bodamer’s 60-yard strike to Buchanan. That pair also combined to stop the next two Wolverine possessions via interception, and Camrin Stuckey’s 9-yard touchdown catch made it 41-6 at the break.

With the running-clock rule in effect for the second half, Tyce Miller took the opening kickoff down the sideline until he was finally dragged down by the jersey at the Sheffield 38. A lost fumble thwarted the drive at the Wolverines’ 1, but the defense made up for it a play later when Zach Ramadhan and Johnny Sena stuffed Smith in the end zone for a safety. The loss was one of 15 negative-yardage plays by a Sheffield offense missing several starters, including standout running back Kalil Slaughter.

From that point, the Gators worked on their ground game before sending in the second unit. Backup quarterback Garrett Drabert notched the game’s final score on a 12-yard bootleg, with a busy Kysor adding his sixth extra point in seven attempts on the day.

Port moved to 4-3 with the win, tying Coudersport for second place in the AML North a game behind Cameron County, which has won five in a row after dropping its first two games of the season. The Gators head to Emporium Friday night knowing they’re the last team standing between the Red Raiders and a fourth consecutive division title, and that any loss would deal a severe blow to their own playoff hopes.

“Like I said three weeks ago, if we lose, we’re done. We have to keep going one by one,” Mike Bodamer said. “We’ve seen Emporium play a couple times; like all the other teams, they’re big and aggressive. We’ve got (Jason) Blose to deal with, and their quarterback is definitely playing a lot better, and they’ve got (Andrew) Fragale at fullback, he’s a weapon. Our problem’s been stopping the run all year, and they’re probably going to try to power it right at us. So we’ll have to try to buckle down and see if we can stop them.”

Blose, who was moved from quarterback to tailback this season by new head coach Mark Morelli – the all-time wins leader at Ridgway before hiring on as Cameron County’s defensive coordinator last year – leads the team with 107 carries for 747 yards and six touchdowns. Fragale (62-382, six touchdowns) and quarterback Zack Austin (40-333, five touchdowns) will also see their share of carries in Morelli’s run-heavy scheme. Austin has completed 26 of 69 passes for 399 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions.

“It’s definitely a game we can win. No reason why we can’t,” Bodamer said. “I told the kids, ‘Last year they were 9-0, and conceivably, we could have beaten them twice.’ It was that close. But they’ll definitely be ready for us, and going over there is always a tough place to play – although actually, we seem to play better over there than we play at home against them for some reason.

“These kids know what has to be done: if we lose our chances are gone, if we keep winning we keep going. We’ll get a good week of practice in … and try to feed them potatoes and steak all week and put some weight on them so (Cameron County) won’t push us around,” he added with a chuckle.

“I think we can throw the ball on them, and Seth’s a decent runner. We should be able to score; it’s whether or not we can stop them that’s going to be the big thing.”

At Sheffield, 10/17:

Score by quarters:
Port A 27 14 9 0 50
Sheffield 0 6 0 0 6

First Quarter

Port A – Matt Bodamer 10 run, Ken Kysor kick, 7-0
Port A – Tyce Miller 66 pass from Bodamer, Kysor kick, 14-0
Port A – Charlie Buchanan 35 pass from Bodamer, Kysor kick, 21-0
Port A – Seth Lowery 11 run, kick failed, 27-0

Second Quarter

Sheffield – Hunter Smith 3 run, pass failed, 27-6
Port A – Buchanan 60 pass from Bodamer, Kysor kick, 34-6
Port A – Stuckey 9 pass from Bodamer, Kysor kick, 41-6

Third Quarter

PA – Safety, Smith tackled in end zone, 43-6
PA – Garrett Drabert 12 run, Kysor kick, 50-6

Team Stats: Port A Sheffield
First downs 15 12
Rushes-Yards 34-160 30-(-11)
Comp-Att-Int 7-8-0 12-23-4
Passing Yards 213 136
Total Yards 373 125
Fumbles-Lost 4-2 2-0
Punts-Avg. 1-16.0 2-25.5
Penalties-Yards 4-60 3-22
Total Plays 42 53

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