38th Raabe Classic: Pennsy rumbles past New York, 28-3

Lori Chase
Port Allegany Reporter Argus
August 11, 2011

An hour before the scheduled kickoff of Saturday’s 38th annual Don Raabe Big 30 Charities Classic, a thunderstorm rumbled across Bradford’s Parkway Field.

Once the game began, the Pennsylvania all-stars did the same.

Driving inside the New York 20-yard line on seven consecutive possessions, the Pennsy offense bulldozed its way to an 18-point halftime lead, including a touchdown run by Port Allegany receiver Camrin Stuckey. Meanwhile, an opportunistic defense allowed only a first-quarter field goal, keeping the New Yorkers bottled up deep in their own territory for most of the game and staking the Keystone State to a 28-3 victory even more lopsided than the score might suggest.

“Very, very excited to win,” said Gators kicker Ken Kysor after Pennsylvania claimed its sixth game out of the last eight to pull closer to New York, which clings to a 19-17-2 lead in the series. “It’s good to make up for last year; I know we lost. But this year, having a good squad of guys – everybody knows what they’re doing – we just worked what we practiced, and we put it together to get a win.”

Pennsylvania’s run-heavy gameplan couldn’t have worked much better for head coach Jason Barner, still shaking off a celebratory Gatorade-bucket shower – “I’ve got a bad heart. That’s not good for that,” he said, chuckling – during his postgame chat with reporters.

“Both series of backs, I thought, really ran hard and controlled the game,” the Kane Wolves’ mentor said. “We moved the ball, we controlled the clock. We had a couple of bumps in the road, so to speak, but the kids overcame them. And it opened up the passing game, obviously. When you’re able to pound the ball up the middle, you’re able to get the ball to the edge, it opens up things in the air. It helped us there quite a bit.”

Big 30 All-Stars Pat Pascarella (Bradford) and Ricky Pearsall (Elk County Catholic) received most of the pregame press, but on Saturday night, a runner most area fans haven’t seen led the way on the ground. Showing a burst of outside speed to go with his powerful runs between the tackles, 6-2, 215-pound Warren Dragons fullback T.J. Latimer led all rushers, carrying 11 times for 64 yards.

Portville’s Trent Unverdorben paced the New York ground game with 46 yards on six carries. But most of those touches, and 66 of New York’s 89 total rushing yards, came on the opening drive. After that, the Pennsy defense sent their counterparts into reverse, forcing three turnovers – including one that handed the offense the ball at the New York 4 – and not allowing another first down until late in the third quarter, when the game was well in hand.

“I thought we looked really good (on the first drive),” a dejected New York coach Jason Marsh said. “They weren’t doing anything different. It was just us not getting to where we needed to be.”

He added, “Sometimes we were kind of handcuffed by our field position. A tribute to our defense, they made some good stops inside the 10, but then we couldn’t get that ball out of there to get field position to start using everything in our playbook.”

For Gators linebacker Seth Lowery, part of a defensive rotation that sent New York three-and-out all four times his group took the field, the bookwork was elementary.

“Their first offense seemed a lot better than the one we went against,” he said. “They didn’t really have a strong running back or anything on the defense that we had when I was out there. They were just really easy to read; I thought it would be harder than this. But it was a lot of fun.”

Following a short field goal by John Carroll (Cattaraugus-Little Valley) to put New York on top early, Pennsylvania responded with a long drive of its own, with Kane quarterback Alex Anderson scrambling the final 14 yards into the end zone and Kysor adding the extra point. The score stayed the same until deep into the second quarter when, facing third-and-goal at the New York 4, Pennsy flipped open the playbook to the trick-or-treat page. Anderson dropped back with the ball hidden on his hip, then slipped it to Stuckey, who sprinted around the left side and dove inside the pylon. Following a penalty, Kysor’s PAT attempt was blocked, but the Keystone crew still held a 13-3 lead.

“We run that reverse in our own offense,” Barner said. “We saw they were in a goal-line (defense), they had a bunch of guys packed in. So we thought it was an opportunity, we’d take a chance at it. Luckily, it all worked out. It was a gamble, and the gamble paid off.”

Asked for his reaction when he heard the playcall, Stuckey grinned.

“I was just thinking, ‘It’s open,’” he said. “During practice we ran it against a better defense, I think, with the PA defense. I figure if I can get by them, there no way anybody’s going to stop me to get by on New York.

“I trusted my offensive coach. He’s really a great guy, they all are. We had a great coaching staff. I don’t think we would’ve done this good without them. I think that’s what really sealed the deal for us, our coaching. It was great.”

The night went from bad to disastrous for New York on its next possession, when Johnsonburg defensive tackle Trevor Miller snared a fumble at the 4-yard line. Pascarella dove into the end zone two plays later, and Bradford quarterback Cody Coats found Miller’s Rams teammate, Joe Holmberg, for the two-point conversion and a 21-3 halftime margin.

The song remained the same in the second half, with Kysor booming his second and third kickoff touchbacks of the night to help keep New York pinned deep, and two Cameron County players making their presence felt. Pennsylvania cashed in on an Andrew Fragale fumble recovery when Anderson hooked up with a wide-open Holmberg for a 35-yard touchdown, part of the Johnsonburg receiver’s game-high four-catch, 95-yard night, and pounded inside the 5-yard line before coming away empty-handed on two other occasions.

With time ticking down in the fourth quarter, the New York offense showed a little life, with a highlight-reel 48-yard catch by Southwestern receiver Nick Austin and two long scrambles from Allegany-Limestone quarterback Brad Costa moving them inside the 20 for just the second time all night. But following a sack by Otto-Eldred defensive end Mike Martin, CC safety Jason Blose sealed the outcome with an interception and long return to thwart the New Yorkers’ final drive and begin the celebration on the Pennsy sideline.

Later, as the stadium cleared, Stuckey savored the moment.

“Something I never want to miss,” he said, “something I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I’ll be thinking about it 10, 20, 30 years from now. It’s going to be great. I’ll come back every year and think, ‘Hey, I was out there one time. I know how they feel.’

“It’s pretty sweet.”

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