AML Football: Gators ground Falcons to claim North crown



Lori Chase
Port Allegany Reporter Argus
November 3, 2011

Friday night’s football game between Port Allegany and unbeaten Coudersport was supposed to be a showdown between the top two teams in the Allegheny Mountain League North Division.

Then the game started, and any pretense of suspense ended.

Firing on all cylinders despite the late-October chill at CARP Field, the Gators scored five first-half touchdowns, rolled up a season-best 523 yards while stifling the Falcons offense, and eased to a 49-7 victory to claim the North title and a berth in this week’s championship game at Brockway.

On the Coudy sideline, head coach Chris Fink’s summary was brief.

“Port played a great game tonight. Congratulations to them for kicking our tails all over the field. That’s what they did,” he said. “We didn’t have the intensity we needed. We need to come out with intensity if we’re going to be able to play with that team, and we didn’t do it.”

If trying to defend against Port’s potent spread offense wasn’t already hard enough, they showcased yet another facet of their attack against Coudy: Matt Bodamer’s feet. Taking advantage of the threat posed by the Gator passing game, the junior quarterback stunned the Falcon defense several times in the first quarter, piling up 94 yards on just five carries and scoring the game’s first touchdown from 20 yards out.

“That first series, we came out and they had everyone at the line of scrimmage, they were going man coverage. I looked out there on our first pass, and all their defensive backs covering our receivers, their backs were turned. Matt came over (to the sideline), and I said, ‘Matt, the middle’s going to be wide open. Just keep it and run,’” Port head coach Mike Bodamer said. “’Once you see a seam up the middle, go.’ Because there was basically nobody left. You look out there, they were all chasing our receivers. There’s one guy in the middle, and Matt can beat anybody one-on-one. So that was really the big thing in the first half; we just let him run.”

Following a Coudy three-and-out, it took the Gators just five plays to make it 12-0. With the Falcon defenders perhaps casting a wary eye into the Port backfield, Bodamer spotted Charlie Buchanan running free in the secondary and hit the senior wideout for a 20-yard touchdown, Buchanan’s ninth of the season. Bodamer finished the game 12-for-20 for 238 yards, enough to move into fourth place on the District 9 career passing-yardage list, and added another 105 on the ground.

“That’s the pickle that he puts you in – well, the whole offense does,” Fink said. “They spread you out, you’ve got to cover all four of their receivers who can catch the ball and can run after the catch, you’ve got to cover a back out of the backfield, you’ve got to try to contain your lanes a little bit so Bodamer can’t run on you … They use the whole field pretty well.”

After Buchanan’s catch, the game settled into a rhythm familiar to local fans: A Coudy punt, followed quickly by another Gator score. Trey Miller’s 4-yard run made it 20-0 at the end of the first quarter, and mere moments after the teams switched ends, a nifty 66-yard catch-and-run by Trevor Neal gave Bodamer his second touchdown pass of the night and state-leading 29th of the season.

Meanwhile, with leading rusher Caden Whitman watching on crutches from the sideline, the Falcons weren’t going anywhere. Coudy managed just 52 yards of total offense and four first downs before the half, never crossing the Port 30-yard line until late in the third quarter. A one-yard Bodamer keeper sent the visitors into the locker room ahead 34-0, the fourth time in the last five weeks the Gators have held their opponent scoreless while building a commanding halftime lead.

“Our defense hasn’t been getting a lot of credit, but when you look at the games … Elk County was a bad game defensively, but other than that, we’ve really played well all year,” coach Bodamer said. “The last five weeks, we’ve been shutting everybody down. We made some changes midway through the season, and the kids are really responding to it.”

While Falcon quarterback Tim McCusker found Alex Hutcheson for a third-quarter touchdown pass to avoid the shutout, the second half belonged to Trent Neal and the Gator ground game. The junior running back powered his way to 82 of his season-high 112 yards after the break, scoring twice as the seconds ticked off the clock toward Port Allegany’s first AML North title since 2000 and fifth in the league’s two-division era.

“He ran well, and the line blocked well,” coach Bodamer said. “Everything just seemed to click for us tonight. Our enthusiasm definitely showed in the first half. I think we kind of caught them off guard, and it was pretty much on cruise control after that.”

So now, while Coudy (8-1) waits to see where they’ll end up in the playoffs, Port Allegany (8-1) hits the road for the AML Championship game Friday night (7 p.m., WHKS-FM 94.9) at Brockway (7-2), which clinched the South championship with a 44-7 win over Kane last weekend.

It will be Port’s third visit of the season to Jefferson County, where their Week 2 game was suspended by lightning on Friday night and completed the next morning. The weather woes may have actually saved the Gators, who trailed 16-7 when the game was stopped, then endured the long ride home and back before ripping off 26 straight second-half points on the way to a 40-30 win over the Rovers.

“We were in my classroom until, I think, 3 o’clock that morning. The kids got a pretty big earful that night,” Bodamer said. “Something clicked that next morning. We made that first sack on their first play, and things just kept going from there.”

Both quarterback Kyle Braun and fullback Tom Vervoort rushed for 100 yards for Brockway, which dumped the spread offense for a run-heavy attack after Pennsy passing recordholder Derek Buganza graduated. Port did most of its damage through the air; Matt Bodamer completed 23 of 30 passes – including a perfect 19-for-19 once the game was resumed – for a career-high 367 yards and four touchdowns, three of them to Tyce Miller, who scorched the Rovers secondary for 229 yards. Both teams have lost just one game since then, the Gators dropping a 25-19 decision to Elk County Catholic and the Rovers falling 21-10 at Coudersport.

“It’s going to be a battle,” coach Bodamer said. “I hate to downplay this game because it is important to the area, but I really hate to jeopardize kids going into the playoffs by two good teams beating the heck out of each other for something. But we’re going to go down and play and have some fun. Hopefully we win and come out without any injuries, and go into the playoffs from there.”

At Coudersport, Oct. 28:

Score by quarters:
Port Allegany 20 14 8 7 49
Coudersport 0 0 7 0 7

First Quarter
Port Allegany – Matt Bodamer 20 run (2 plays, 47 yards, 0:30), kick failed, 6-0
Port Allegany – Charlie Buchanan 20 pass from Bodamer (5 plays, 60 yards, 1:07), pass failed, 12-0
Port Allegany – Trey Miller 4 run (8 plays, 69 yards, 2:21), Rickie Bova pass from Bodamer, 20-0

Second Quarter
Port Allegany – Trevor Neal 66 pass from Bodamer (2 plays, 80 yards, 0:24), pass failed, 26-0
Port Allegany – Bodamer 1 run (8 plays, 35 yards, 3:06), Bova pass from Bodamer, 34-0

Third Quarter
Port Allegany – Trent Neal 3 run (7 plays, 60 yards, 2:22), Bodamer run, 42-0
(running clock)
Coudersport – Alex Hutcheson 27 pass from Tim McCusker (11 plays, 68 yards, 6:44), Santiago Martinez kick, 42-7

Fourth Quarter
Port Allegany – Trent Neal 6 run (11 plays, 58 yards, 6:10), Tyler Burr kick, 49-7

Team Statistics: Port A Coudy
First downs 23 8
Rushes-Yards 36-272 30-37
Comp-Att-Int 13-21-0 6-18-0
Passing Yards 251 84
Total Yards 523 121
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 0-0
Punts-Avg. 1-30.0 7-29.6
Penalties-Yards 5-38 1-5
Total Plays 57 48
Time of poss. 23:30 24:30

Individual statistics:
Rushing: Port Allegany – Trent Neal 17-112, TD; Matt Bodamer 7-105, 2 TD; Cory Burr 3-42; Trey Miller 3-4, TD; Johnny Sena 1-4; Garrett Drabert 4-3. Coudersport – Zach Cumby 8-34; Mitch Freeman 10-24; Jason Gibson 2-6; Ryan Gerner 1-2; Zac Elenchin 1-(-2); Alex Furman 3-(-3); Tim McCusker 5-(-24).

Passing: Port Allegany – Bodamer 12-20-0, 238 yards, 2 TD; Burr 1-1-0, 13 yards. Coudersport – McCusker 6-16-0, 84 yards, TD; Gibson 0-1-0, 0 yards; Elenchin 0-1-0, 0 yards.

Receiving: Port A – Trevor Neal 2-75, TD; Tyce Miller 4-70; Rickie Bova 3-56; Charlie Buchanan 2-33, TD; Drabert 1-13; Trent Neal 1-4. Coudersport – Alex Hutcheson 3-53, TD; Garrett Russell 1-25; Gibson 2-6.

(Helmets courtesy of

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