PORT ALLEGANY GATORS (4-0)
COUDERSPORT FALCONS (1-3)
Sept. 27, 2012
The Port Allegany High School football team’s 2012 season didn’t start with the first Allegheny Mountain League game on the schedule, or even the beginning of practice in August. It began during offseason workouts and throwing sessions organized by the players – or maybe, for some of this year’s seniors, it goes all the way back to a cold day in November 2010 when the then-sophomores decided they didn’t like watching someone else accept a district championship plaque.
But after Friday night’s 70-8 destruction of a Coudersport team projected to be their closest competitor in the AML North, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: These Gators don’t plan on stopping short of a return trip to the PIAA state playoffs … and maybe not even then.
While Port’s fast-break offense was busy ringing up six first-half touchdowns, the defense held Coudy’s dangerous backfield tandem of Mitch Freeman and Caden Whitman to a combined 17 carries for 36 yards on the way to the lopsided victory. The Falcons’ only drive past midfield while the game was in doubt came to a screeching halt on a strip-sack by Nick Budd, a series after another Budd excursion into the backfield resulted in a pop-fly interception by fellow defensive tackle Brandon “Bubba” Raymo.
“Last year we had the offense; our defense was a little rough last year at the beginning, but this year the kids have bought into the defense,” coach Mike Bodamer said. “We try to use speed and just fly to the ball, and they hit hard. It’s nice to see. It’s pretty easy when you’ve got kids like Nick and Bubba and Rex (Windsor) and Ricky (Bova) on the line. When you’ve got four kids to control that, the other seven can fly around. They’re playing well on the defensive side.”
For opposing coaches who hope to slow down Port’s scoring machine by playing keepaway, the emergence of the Gator defense has come as an unwelcome surprise.
“Port did a great job of shutting down our run early on, and then we had to try a little bit of spread, because the only success we were having was throwing the ball,” said Coudersport head coach Chris Fink. “And obviously, you throw incompletions, that’s going to stop the clock, and … you know.
“If they take us out of our running game, we’re done. That’s the only shot we felt we had at hanging in was to chew up clock, get some first downs through the running game, keep it away from them. So as soon as they shut that down – and they didn’t do it with a whole bunch of trickery or anything, a lot of that was a straight 4-3 and man coverage in the secondary. So it wasn’t like the previous week, when we were seeing a 10-man front. They’ve got some big boys up front that do a good job.”
As for the Gator offense? Yeah, we already knew they were good. Really good. No matter how far Port goes this season, though, it will be hard to top Friday night’s performance.
Quarterback Matt Bodamer continued to leapfrog up the PIAA passing leaderboard, completing 27 of 35 throws for a career-high 413 yards and claiming sole possession of second place on the touchdown-pass list with his second consecutive seven-score night. Perhaps none of those plays was more impressive than the 37-yard hookup with Tyce Miller for the game’s first score, with Bodamer scrambling toward the left sideline and motioning to his receivers on that side, then whirling to find Miller – who had alertly worked his way into the clear all the way across the field – open for business at the Coudy 10.
“It was a broken play, and he just keeps running. Tyce is smart enough to go opposite, and Matt’s got the arm. Usually, high school kids, you tell your kids that if the quarterback rolls, don’t worry about backside because he can’t throw it. But Matt can make that throw. Actually, he threw one of those last year – he rolled all the way to the left and threw back to Tyce to the right. Matt’s got the arm to make that throw,” coach Bodamer said. “Just those two kids making a play. They have that mental thing together. It just happens.”
It was the first of a career-best four touchdowns on the night for Miller, who’s within striking distance of some District 9 records of his own. According to statistics compiled by Andy Close, Rich Rhoades, and Chris Rossetti of D9Sports.com, Miller’s 28 touchdown catches put him just two shy of matching the mark set by Clarion-Limestone’s Brad Beggs.
Miller (9 catches-156 yards) was one of three receivers to crack the 100-yard barrier, with running mate Nick Conway (6-119, TD) and tight end Ricky Bova (7-100, TD) also hitting triple digits. Cory Burr and Chad Gaines caught their first varsity touchdown passes, the latter on backup quarterback Jordan Seefeldt’s second scoring toss of the year, and tackle-turned-fullback Budd and freshman Mac Tanner added rushing scores as the Gators once again emptied the bench in the third quarter.
With three September road trips safely out of the way, Port returns to the friendly confines of Gator Field for Saturday afternoon’s Homecoming game against Otto-Eldred (1:30 p.m., WHKS-FM 94.9, redzonemedia.com). The Terrors are 0-4 after dropping a 28-6 decision at Smethport last week. Quarterback Dakota Vaughn pilots the O-E offense, completing 34 of 76 passes for 498 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions, while fellow junior Sam Colebert (66 carries-383 yards, 2 TD) paces the ground game.
“I haven’t really seen them,” coach Bodamer said. “I know they try to run the spread offense like we do, so we’ll have to work on our secondary coverage. Get that ready, and just keep our offense sharp. It’s Homecoming, so there’s a little incentive for the seniors to play well. We’ll see what we can do.”
NOTES: Bodamer now has 8,264 passing yards, with Lancaster Catholic’s Kyle Smith (8,545) next on the PIAA list in third … Smith also owns the career TD-pass mark with 118, 11 ahead of Bodamer’s 107 … With 126 receptions for 2,165 yards, Tyce Miller is also within reach of the D-9 career records set by Brockway’s Mike Vervoort (161-2,445) … Raymo’s first-quarter interception was the only turnover of the game … Budd and Christian Moses each notched a sack of Coudy quarterback Ethan Hite, while Whitman got to Bodamer on a first-and-goal play in the second quarter … Scotty Brookens was a perfect 8-for-8 on extra points, and has made 17 of his last 18.
NUMBERS: The 70 points by Port marked the fourth-highest total in team history according to Reporter-Argus archives, and the most since a 75-0 win over Eisenhower in 1951. First and third places on the list both belong to the legendary 1924 squad, which defeated Johnsonburg 74-7 on Oct. 25 and Emporium 81-7 on Nov. 15 of that year.
LOOKING AHEAD: Port is 9-1 in its last 10 games against Otto-Eldred. The last Terrors win in the series was a 15-14 decision in 2006 … Next week’s home game against Smethport will be Senior Day.
At Coudersport, Sept. 21:
|Score by quarters:
|Port Allegany Gators
PA – Ty. Miller 37 pass from Bodamer (3 plays, 57 yards, 0:36), Brookens kick, 10:19
PA – Conway 30 pass from Bodamer (6 plays, 80 yards, 1:09), Brookens kick, 5:57
PA – Ty. Miller 5 pass from Bodamer (2 plays, 30 yards after Raymo interception, 0:21), Brookens kick, 4:36
PA – Ty. Miller 35 pass from Bodamer (9 plays, 80 yards, 3:08), Brookens kick, 11:47
PA – Bova 20 pass from Bodamer (12 plays, 59 yards, 3:59), Brookens kick, 4:39
PA – Burr 4 pass from Bodamer (5 plays, 35 yards, 1:29), Brookens kick, 1:24
Third Quarter (running clock)
PA – Ty. Miller 35 pass from Bodamer (6 plays, 61 yards, 3:12), Brookens kick, 8:48
PA – Budd 1 run (10 plays, 70 yards, 4:56), Brookens kick, 1:09
C – Wilson 6 pass from Hite (7 plays, 65 yards, 3:45), Hershey pass from Hite, 9:24
PA – Gaines 20 pass from Seefeldt (5 plays, 50 yards, 2:20), Schroll pass from Seefeldt, 7:04
PA – Tanner 11 run (7 plays, 70 yards, 3:23), extra point failed, 1:11
|Total Net Yards
|Time of Possession
Rushing: Port Allegany – Tanner 6-49, Neal 9-37, Bodamer 6-30, Garzel 1-8, Gular 1-3, Budd 2-1. Coudersport – Freeman 10-25, Whitman 7-11, Labar 1-3, Green 1-0, Furman 1-(-1), Hite 5-(-12).
Passing: Port Allegany – Bodamer 27-35-0-413, Seefeldt 3-4-0-48, Garzel 1-1-0-15. Coudersport – Hite 7-15-1-86, Keglovitz 0-3-0.
Receiving: Port Allegany – Ty. Miller 9-156, Conway 6-119, Bova 7-100, Tr. Miller 2-22, Gaines 1-20, Burr 3-16, Veilleux 1-16, Lashway 1-15, Tanner 1-12. Coudersport – Hershey 2-37, Wilson 3-26, Freeman 1-16, Whitman 1-7.
(Helmets courtesy of the Pennsylvania Helmet Project.)