SMETHPORT HUBBERS (3-3)
PORT ALLEGANY GATORS (6-0)
Oct. 11, 2012
Not much has slowed down the Port Allegany football team during this record-setting season. Even with several starters missing the beginning of last Saturday’s game against Smethport to take their SAT’s, the outcome proved no different, with the Gators rolling to a 48-0 victory over the Hubbers to repeat as Allegheny Mountain League North division champions.
Matt Bodamer ran for one touchdown and passed for three more, edging within two of tying the PIAA state record. The defense pitched its second shutout of the season, stifling Smethport’s two-headed rushing attack of Karl Lightner and Clay Schuler – the AML’s leading ground-gainer coming into the game – to the tune of 28 carries for -4 yards, and still hasn’t allowed a single point in the first half.
And if opposing defenses didn’t already have enough to worry about between Bodamer and his talented receivers and the hard-nosed running of Trent Neal, the Gators unveiled yet another weapon in their loaded arsenal, with Tyler Shaffer beating the pursuit to the corner and breaking off touchdown runs of 30 and 22 yards.
“A little thunder up the middle, a little speed around the outside. It was nice to see him,” coach Mike Bodamer said. “A couple of runs, he didn’t read the holes well enough – but he was fast enough to get outside, so he made up for it. He’s been trying to work in there, and we decided the last couple of weeks to give him a shot. Another new dimension they have to look for.”
Shaffer’s first score gave the Gators the early lead on the game-opening drive, with Sam Kysor adding the extra point. Following a Smethport three-and-out – the sixth consecutive week the Port defense hasn’t allowed a first down in their initial action of the game – it took just two plays and 22 seconds to make it 14-0, with Trey Miller breaking loose for a 35-yard reception and Bodamer finding Nick Conway for the 15-yard score.
The Hubbers didn’t go down without a battle, thwarting one red-zone foray on downs and forcing a punt on the following drive – the first time all year Port’s starting offense has gone without scoring on back-to-back possessions. But with the defense continuing to stop Smethport in its tracks, it was merely a matter of time before the Gators turned their field-position edge into more points.
“Our line has been playing really well this year, and I put a lot of pressure on them this week to come out and perform. That was our downfall today – our line play wasn’t what we thought it was going to be. We couldn’t run the ball, and it started snowballing from there,” said first-year Smethport coach Jim Berlin. “The ground-control kind of style of game that we play, pound the ball, you’re putting yourself in a situation with the clock where instead of working against them it’s starting to work against you.”
“We worked on that,” coach Bodamer said of bottling up the Hubs’ run-heavy gameplan. “We went to the five, six-man front every once in a while, tried to change things up. Alex (Gular) had a nice game, made some nice tackles. That’s definitely what we worked on, their option. We didn’t tackle too well the first half – we had a lot of hand-tackles – but we came out in the second half and played a lot better.”
Taking over at midfield with eight minutes left in the second quarter, another long pass to Miller preceded Matt Bodamer’s 12-yard bootleg to paydirt. Smethport responded with its longest drive of the half, pushing inside the Port 40 for the first time, but their stay there was short as back-to-back sacks set up Victor Bandish’s fumble recovery at midfield with 0:48 left before halftime.
As the Gators have shown all too often this season, that’s plenty of time to score. Following Tyce Miller’s 20-yard catch-and-run down to the Hubber 2, Bodamer found Ricky Bova alone under the goalpost with 0:00 on the clock, and Kysor’s fourth extra point made it 28-0 at the break.
“I think it’s only the second time we’ve gotten our two-minute offense,” coach Bodamer said. “I thought Tyce maybe should’ve went out of bounds, he cut back in and tried to score, but luckily we still had a couple of seconds left. As soon as we lined up in that I saw Rick out there and it’s like, this is going to be so easy. Just a nice throw and catch there.”
While the Gator defense kept Smethport from crossing the 25-yard line for the rest of the afternoon, the offense added three more touchdowns in the second half as Bodamer and Conway hooked up for a 1-yard score early in the third quarter, Shaffer added his second sideline jaunt, and backup quarterback Jordan Seefeldt tossed a 10-yarder to senior Josh Poorman.
With the division title secured, the Gators (6-0) head west to Warren County this Saturday to face Sheffield (2-4), which still has an outside shot at a D-9 playoff spot. It’s been an up-and-down season on Wolverine Mountain under first-year head coach Dave Fitch, with last week’s surprising 52-38 loss at Otto-Eldred offsetting back-to-back wins over Cameron County and Coudersport. Senior Shequan Wright and sophomore Adam Higby split time at quarterback in the Wolverines’ pass-heavy offense.
“Discipline is their big concern, but they definitely have athletes,” Bodamer said. “Actually, I saw them last night (in last Friday’s loss to the Terrors), and their young 10th-grade quarterback doesn’t throw the ball badly. He made some nice throws, and 17 (Wright) is definitely someone you’ve got to keep your eye on. It’ll be fun going down there.”
NOTES: Bodamer’s 14-of-22, 255-yard performance added to his state-leading totals (1,897 yards and 31 TDs), moving him within 355 yards of second place on the career yardage list and two TD passes away from tying Kyle Smith for the PIAA record … Conway (32-663, 12 TDs) and Tyce Miller (34-646, 11 TDs) both rank high on the state leaderboard for yardage and touchdowns, with Tyce one touchdown catch from matching the District 9 career mark of 30, held by Clarion-Limestone’s Brad Beggs … Port won the turnover battle 3-0, as Bandish, Conway, and Jacob Safford each recovered a fumble … The Gator pass rush put heavy pressure on Schuler whenever he tried to throw and sacked him three times, with Nick Budd combining with Bandish for one takedown and notching another one solo, and linebackers Neal and Johnny Sena sharing the third.
NUMBERS: The win was the 11th in a row for the Gators over Smethport, matching the longest streak by either team in the longstanding series … The 48 points by Port matched last year’s output for the fourth-most in the series, with the Gators owning the top five spots. The 62-8 final in 1978 heads the list, with RB Barry Bova – the uncle of current Port TE Ricky Bova – playing a starring role.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Gators have a 10-game winning streak against Sheffield, which last won in the series in 2001 … Veteran announcer Al Lacher returns to the booth again this week for the WHKS broadcast (94.9 FM, redzonemedia.com).
At Port Allegany, Oct. 6:
|Score by quarters:|
|Port Allegany Gators||14||14||7||13||–||48|
PA – Shaffer 30 run (7 plays, 62 yards, 2:30), Kysor kick, 9:30
PA – Conway 15 pass from Bodamer (2 plays, 50 yards, 0:22), Kysor kick, 7:28
PA – Bodamer 12 run (4 plays, 50 yards, 1:10), Kysor kick, 6:59
PA – Bova 5 pass from Bodamer (7 plays, 52 yards after Bandish fumble recovery, 0:48), Kysor kick, 0:00
PA – Conway 1 pass from Bodamer (2 plays, 40 yards after Conway fumble recovery, 0:23), Brookens kick, 9:27
PA – Shaffer 22 run (5 plays, 68 yards, 2:25), Brookens kick, 11:27
PA – Poorman 10 pass from Seefeldt (5 plays, 37 yards, 2:06), kick failed, 6:38
|Time of Possession||31:13||16:47|
Rushing: Smethport – Abrams 4-31, Stratton 4-13, Lightner 13-5, Confair 2-4, Corbett 1-(-3), Shunk 2-(-4), Schuler 15-(-9). Port Allegany – Shaffer 3-51, Bodamer 4-32, Neal 8-30, Tanner 5-9, Seefeldt 2-9, Gaines 1-(-4).
Passing: Smethport – Schuler 1-9-0-8, Corbett 0-1-0-0. Port Allegany – Bodamer 14-22-0-255, Seefeldt 2-4-0-35.
Receiving: Smethport – Lightner 1-8. Port Allegany – Ty. Miller 4-93, Tr. Miller 2-69, Conway 5-66, Poorman 2-35, Bova 2-20, Neal 1-7.
(Helmets courtesy of the Pennsylvania Helmet Project.)