PORT ALLEGANY GATORS (7-0)
CAMERON COUNTY RED RAIDERS (1-6)
7:00 PM EDT
LAST 10 GAMES: Cameron County leads, 6-4. Port’s win last season snapped a six-game CCHS streak in the series.
LAST MEETING: October 22, 2011 – Gators 54, Red Raiders 6
As a happy hometown crowd filed out of the Gator Field stands on Saturday after watching Port Allegany dismantle Cameron County, 54-6, coach Mike Bodamer delivered a simple message to Port’s postgame huddle:
“The real season starts Monday.”
That’s when, after practicing and playing since August and watching the Allegheny Mountain League scoreboard for the last two months, the Gators (7-1) can officially set their sights on unbeaten Coudersport in next Friday night’s showdown for the AML North division title. A berth in the league championship game awaits the winner, along with a chance at a high seed in the District 9 Class A playoffs.
“Everything’s on the line,” Bodamer said. “If they want to play in the AML game, they have to beat Coudy. And with the (playoff) seeding, there’s no doubt we’re going to see Curwensville or Brockway or Elk County in the first game. So that’s not going to be an easy task, either.”
But judging by Saturday’s tuneup against overmatched Cameron County (2-6), Port is running in high gear as it heads into the winner-takes-all part of the schedule. Tyce Miller caught touchdown passes of 54 and 19 yards from Matt Bodamer, five different players scored rushing touchdowns, and the defense forced the Red Raiders to punt on each of their first six possessions, allowing just 18 total yards and two first downs before halftime as the Gators cruised to their third running-clock victory in the last four weeks.
LAST TIME AT CAMERON COUNTY: October 22, 2010 – Red Raiders 27, Gators 21 (OT)
Three times in the last two seasons, Port Allegany and Cameron County have met on the football field with either a division title or a playoff berth at stake. Three times, the Red Raiders needed a fourth-quarter touchdown to eke out a close win.
On a cold, clear Friday night in Emporium, four quarters wasn’t long enough to decide the game, but the ending was all too heartbreakingly familiar. Following a fourth-and-goal fumble to stop the Gators’ first possession in overtime, Jason Blose scored the game-winning touchdown – his third of the night – to give Cameron County a 27-21 victory and its fourth consecutive AML North championship.
“We had him stopped at the 10-yard line, but we didn’t make the wrap, didn’t make the tackle when we had to. At least two or three kids bounced off him, and that was that,” Port coach Mike Bodamer said quietly as the stands emptied.
(Helmets courtesy of the Pennsylvania Helmet Project.)