AML Football Week 5: Gators down feisty Terrors to stay unbeaten





AIRTIME: Port Allegany quarterback Matt Bodamer leaps over diving Otto-Eldred defensive end Seth Bigley just before uncorking a 66-yard touchdown pass to Nick Conway.
(Photo credit: Pam Fischer)

Lori Chase
October 4, 2012

The Port Allegany Gators came into last Saturday afternoon’s Homecoming game flying high, averaging 56 points and more than 500 yards of offense, and most observers expected those trends to continue against winless Otto-Eldred.

Port High still won handily, putting together a workmanlike 42-16 victory, but the Terrors earned some respect – including from Gator coach Mike Bodamer.

“They really wanted to play hard today, and I think they did,” Bodamer said. “I was impressed with them. Like I told him (O-E coach Virgil Graham), I haven’t seen too many kids handle Nick (Budd). I looked out there a couple of times and their kids were controlling our defensive line, which I haven’t seen all year. Good physical team. I was impressed with them. That’s definitely a good sign for them.”

The Terrors, who came into the game averaging 19 passing attempts per week, were content to pound the ball at the Gator defense while burning time off the clock.

“We just wanted to slow the game down a little bit and kind of take the ball out of their offense’s hands as much as we could,” Graham said, “and I think we did a good job of that. A few times our drives stalled a little bit, but that’s just because Port’s defense is so strong – when their back’s against the wall, they’re able to make the play. But all in all, they definitely didn’t have the ball as much as they’re used to having it, or for as long as they had it. I think slowing that tempo down really messed with their mindset and the way that they like to play football, and that’s up-tempo all the time.”

Then again, when you’re facing an offense as talented as Port’s is, any amount of time is too much. The Gators proved that again this week, scoring on six of their first eight possessions to put together a 42-0 lead before the starters sat down at the end of the third quarter.

Nick Conway was a perfect 4-for-4 – four catches, four touchdowns, including this 73-yard sprint past the Gator sideline.
(Photo credit: Pam Fischer)

Four of Matt Bodamer’s six touchdown passes went to Nick Conway, who scored every time he touched the ball en route to a career-high 198-yard afternoon. The Otto-Eldred coaches did their best to confuse Bodamer – even dropping all 11 defenders into coverage at one point, leaving the Port quarterback enough time to finish his math homework before finding Conway deep for the game’s first score – but he still finished the game 16-for-22 for 377 yards to move past Kyle Smith (Lancaster Catholic) into third place on the PIAA career passing list.

“I don’t know what that was,” coach Bodamer said of the Terrors’ exotic defenses, “but when you give Matt all day, he’s going to find somebody regardless. I just told him to run the ball, but he said ‘I didn’t know what to do – there wasn’t anybody coming.’ I’ve never seen that either, but they got away from it quick. Different philosophy, I guess.”

With the score already 14-0 when Trent Neal’s fumble recovery set up a Tyce Miller touchdown catch – his 29th, which tied him with Clearfield’s Wes Dahlen for second place on the D-9 career list – the Gators actually found the end zone three times on their third possession before Conway’s diving catch at the goal line stood. A fumble at midfield stopped their next drive, but one play after Budd stuffed O-E running back Sam Colebert an inch short of a first down at the Gator 27, the Bodamer-to-Conway connection struck again for a back-breaking 73-yard touchdown to make the score 28-0 at the break.

It was Neal’s turn to take over on the first drive of the second half, carrying the ball three times for 34 yards and catching two passes, the second an 18-yard touchdown to start the clock running. The Gators would add seven more points midway through the third quarter, with Bodamer leaping over a diving passrusher to hit Conway in stride down the sideline on a 66-yard catch-and-run, before two Colebert touchdown runs of 5 and 35 yards completed the scoring.

While the undefeated Gators will take the win and move on, Graham saw plenty of positives in his team’s performance.

“Like we told our kids, it’s still an L in the win-loss column,” he said, “but when you play teams like this of this stature you’ve got to find little wins. One of our goals was to get a few sacks, and we got a few sacks. One of our goals was to get an interception; well, we fell short on that one. We wanted to kind of limit their offensive production, and I thought we did a pretty good job of that. We wanted to put a few points up, and we did that. So it’s finding those little wins. It’s not a win in the win column, but it’s something we can build on and move on for next week.

“You could see the spirit of the kids wasn’t broken today. They feel like their performance was good, and I can’t disagree with that. I thought they did a heck of a job. For what we have and what Port has, I thought we did a heck of a job for what we have. We’ve got a few games down the road here that are winnable games, and I’m hoping that this will let us roll on positively, and see what happens.”

Port (5-0) stays at Gator Field for the second of three consecutive Saturday-afternoon kickoffs, hosting ancient archrival Smethport (3-2) before traveling to Sheffield next week. Quarterback Clay Schuler and running back Karl Lightner provide a strong 1-2 punch in the ground game for the Hubbers, who retained their grasp on second place in the AML North following their 35-14 win over Cameron County last Friday night.

“Little sloppy – Homecoming (the long halftime delay) caused some problems, and blowing teams out so much, that’s caused some problems, and we had some personnel issues today that I didn’t really care for,” coach Bodamer said. “So we’ll address those and move on to Smethport, because Smethport’s a lot better run team than they have here, and our run defense definitely wasn’t even close to what it needs to be.”

NOTES: Port captains for the game were Bodamer, Bova, Budd, and Neal, while Otto-Eldred sent out Vaughn, Ryan West, Nate Rodgers, and Dillon Sutton … Each team turned the ball over twice on fumbles, with Neal and Christian Moses recovering for the Gators and Vaughn and Andrew Lawrence for the Terrors … O-E notched three sacks, one each by Ryan West, Jake Wichert, and Rodgers … Colebert led all rushers with 17 carries for 95 yards, while Neal pounded out 75 yards on eight attempts for the Gators.

NUMBERS: Bodamer now has 113 TD passes, five behind Kyle Smith’s record, and 8,641 career yards. Next up: Brendan Nosovitch (Allentown Central Catholic, 9,249).

LOOKING AHEAD: Saturday afternoon’s Senior Day game against Smethport (1:30 p.m., WHKS-FM 94.9, will mark the renewal of one of the oldest football rivalries in this part of the state. According to Reporter-Argus archives, teams from the two schools played as early as 1910 and at least once per season since 1925, with huge crowds attending games traditionally held on Armistice Day or Thanksgiving through the ’20s and ’30s. The Gators boast a 57-37-7 lead, and a Port victory this year would match the longest winning streak (Smethport 1989-99) in the long series.

At Port Allegany, Sept. 29:

Score by quarters:
Otto-Eldred Terrors 0 0 0 16 16
Port Allegany Gators 21 7 14 0 42

First Quarter
PA – Conway 45 pass from Bodamer (4 plays, 83 yards, 1:07), kick blocked, 8:37
PA – Ty. Miller 18 pass from Bodamer (5 plays, 30 yards after Neal fumble recovery, 1:13), Bodamer run, 7:10
PA – Conway 14 pass from Bodamer (6 plays, 42 yards after Moses fumble recovery, 2:59), Brookens kick, 1:49

Second Quarter
PA – Conway 73 pass from Bodamer (1 plays, 73 yards, 0:12), Brookens kick, 6:29

Third Quarter
PA – Neal 18 pass from Bodamer (7 plays, 69 yards, 2:35), Brookens kick, 9:25
PA – Conway 66 pass from Bodamer (3 plays, 82 yards, 1:21), Brookens kick, 5:11

Fourth Quarter
O-E – Sam Colebert 5 run (4 plays, 20 yards after Lawrence fumble recovery, 2:14), Vaughn run, 6:34
O-E – Colebert 35 run (3 plays, 55 yards, 1:47), Bigley run, 1:47

Team Statistics: O-E PA
First downs 9 16
Total Yards 192 441
Rushes-Yards 41-181 16-63
Passing Yards 11 378
Comp-Att-Int 5-6-0 17-23-0
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 2-2
Punts-Avg. 4-41.5 2-55.0
Penalties-Yards 2-20 6-52
Total Plays 47 39
Time of Possession 27:14 20:46

Individual statistics:

Rushing: Otto-Eldred – Colebert 17-95, Vaughn 11-69, Wichert 6-19, Bigley 5-5, Milliron 1-(-1), team 1-(-6). Port Allegany – Neal 8-75, Tanner 2-7, Bodamer 4-(-2), Gaines 1-(-8), Seefeldt 1-(-9).

Passing: Otto-Eldred – Vaughn 5-6-0-11. Port Allegany – Bodamer 16-22-0-377, Seefeldt 1-1-0-1.

Receiving: Otto-Eldred – Milliron 3-6, Hilyer 1-5. Port Allegany – Conway 4-198, Bova 5-75, Tr. Miller 2-32, Ty. Miller 2-28, Neal 2-25, Burr 1-19, Tanner 1-1.

(Helmets courtesy of the Pennsylvania Helmet Project.)


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