BROCKWAY ROVERS (8-1)
PORT ALLEGANY GATORS (9-0)
Nov. 1, 2012
If last Saturday’s Port Allegany-Brockway football game had been a championship fight, they would’ve stopped it in the early rounds.
What was billed as a showdown between the Allegheny Mountain League’s two remaining unbeaten teams and a preview of this week’s AML title-game rematch instead became an afternoon-long celebration for the hometown fans, as the Gators romped 55-20 to complete their first perfect regular season in 24 years and quarterback Matt Bodamer became Pennsylvania’s all-time passing-yardage leader.
Scoring every time they had the ball, Port’s starting offense rolled up more than 400 yards and averaged less than a minute and a half on their seven touchdown drives as the Gators (9-0) built a commanding 48-7 halftime lead. Not to be outdone, the defense stifled a Brockway attack that came in averaging 46 points per game, allowing the Rovers (8-1) just one excursion across midfield before the reserves tacked on two fourth-quarter touchdowns to complete the scoring.
“That’s something these kids can never have taken away from them – an undefeated season, that’s quite an accomplishment. But they’re definitely not happy with that. I think they’re focused like they should be,” coach Mike Bodamer said, referring to the playoff run ahead.
That focus was certainly apparent on the opening drive, after Tyler Shaffer’s long kickoff return put the offense in business on the Brockway side of the field. Just three plays later and 49 seconds into the game, Trent Neal’s 16-yard jaunt into the end zone and Scotty Brookens’ extra point gave the Gators the lead for good.
“I was nervous about this one,” coach Bodamer said. “When Tyler returned that first kickoff and we went down in three or four plays and scored, it just turned the whole tide and you could just see the confidence come out in them. They just couldn’t stop us. If they dropped back we ran, if they came after us, we threw. (Offensive coordinator Jason) Luther does a good job upstairs of seeing what they’re giving us and calling plays according to what we see, and we have the kids to be able to do it.”
The Rovers tried a little trickery to counter, coming out for their first possession with wide receiver Jacob Perrin at quarterback in a wildcat scheme, but the drive bogged down just short of midfield. Taking over at their own 23 following a Brockway punt, Port was off to the races again. Matt Bodamer worked the middle of the field, with Ricky Bova, Trey Miller and Tyce Miller finding cracks in the secondary to pick up chunks of catch-and-run yardage before Bodamer bootlegged into the endzone from a yard out for his 10th rushing touchdown of the season.
“When they came out, we kind of got an idea of what was going to happen,” the Gator quarterback said. “They tried to mix up some things, but it wasn’t anything that we haven’t seen before. I’m glad everyone read it the same way I did.”
Tyce Miller snared a tipped pass for an interception on Brockway’s next drive, returning it to the Rover 24 as momentum continued to snowball in the home team’s favor, and another long Neal run set up a Bodamer-to-Bova connection for a 20-0 lead less than nine minutes into the contest.
The AML South champs responded, grinding out an 83-yard march capped off by a Chad Melillo run to break the shutout, but there was no stopping the Gators offense. Nick Conway worked his way open five yards behind the defense for a 37-yard touchdown catch, then climbed the ladder to bring down Bodamer’s fade into the endzone to finish another short scoring drive set up by Tyce Miller’s 50-yard punt return.
“Nick made some nice catches today. Those were some beauties,” coach Bodamer said.
Following another Brockway three-and-out it was Miller’s turn to find paydirt, with Bodamer airing out a 60-yard bomb which also put the All-State receiver over the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight season.
“He’s just a great athlete,” coach Bodamer said. “Great hands, he works his butt off, he runs good routes. Him and Matt have that sense, they just know where each other’s going to be. That long touchdown he caught, Tyce came back and Matt said, ‘I’m going to pump-fake to Rick and hit you long,’ and that’s exactly what they do. They can just sense each other, and they do the job well.”
A fumble recovery by Johnny Sena gave the Gators one more chance to put points on the board before halftime, and they cashed in as Bodamer rolled to his left and found Conway at the goal line for the hat trick with 0:34 remaining.
The numbers on the scoreboard read 48-7 at that point, but the 13-yard touchdown pass brought about another noteworthy number: 9,763. Coming into the game 312 yards away from matching the PIAA career passing mark set by Brockway’s Derek Buganza in 2010, Matt Bodamer broke the record in style with his fifth touchdown pass of the half.
“I didn’t realize he was even close – he needed 300-and-something. It’s a great accomplishment for him, it’s a great accomplishment for the team,” coach and proud father Mike Bodamer said before adding with a smile, “Now we can not worry about those things and just do what we need to do.”
With the clock running in the second half, Alex Gular stuffed the Rovers’ opening drive at midfield on one of his many big hits of the day, and Bodamer picked up a crushing downfield block from Shaffer on his way to a 30-yard touchdown jaunt before the starters retired to the sideline with a 55-7 lead.
With the same two teams slated to meet back in Port for the AML championship game, the Rovers will try to regroup while the Gators hope to keep rolling.
“That won’t be the same team. They’ll get ready for us,” coach Bodamer said. “They’ll do something different, and with the weather next week, I don’t know if we’ll be playing here. Maybe plans to move to move it to Bradford hopefully if our field turns into a swamp over this next week, because a mud field’s certainly not good for us. Could be a different situation.”
The difference might not be in Brockway’s favor, though, as Port could get Nick Budd back from injury after the Big 30 All-Star tackle had to sit out most of Saturday’s game.
“Hopefully he’ll be ready for next week, which should shore up our run defense a little bit. Victor (Bandish) stepped in at tackle, moved from guard to tackle and did a good job there. We missed him a little bit on the defensive line, but we have kids to fill in and they did their jobs.
“He played the first two downs on the first series and we could tell he was limping so bad, he had to come out. He hasn’t practiced all week, so we just moved Victor to tackle and brought in Alex at guard. Our guards played pretty well. I mean, they were outsized by 40, 50, 60 pounds, and they fought hard. It was good to see.”
NUMBERS: Bodamer completed 18-of-22 passes for 346 yards before giving way to backup Jordan Seefeldt, and now leads the state with 2,790 yards and 41 TDs this season. Tyce Miller ranks in the top four statewide in catches (55 – tied for fourth), yardage (1,055 – second), and receiving TDs (15 – third), while Conway is a mere 90 yards from joining the 1,000-yard club and a notch ahead of his running mate with 16 TD catches.
LOOKING AHEAD: Saturday afternoon’s AML title game is slated for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff, with the broadcast on WHKS-FM 94.9 and online at redzonemedia.com and scoring updates also available on Twitter by following @LChase_RA.
At Port Allegany, Oct. 27:
|Score by quarters:|
|Port Allegany Gators||20||28||7||0||–||55|
PA – Neal 16 run (3 plays, 47 yards, 0:49), Brookens kick, 11:11
PA – Bodamer 1 run (6 plays, 77 yards, 2:03), Brookens kick, 4:30
PA – Bova 4 pass from Bodamer (3 plays, 24 yards, 0:27 after Ty. Miller interception), kick failed, 3:09
B – Melillo 7 run (14 plays, 82 yards, 4:45), Esposito kick, 10:24
PA – Conway 37 pass from Bodamer (7 plays, 76 yards, 2:55), Conway from Bodamer, 7:29
PA – Conway 14 pass from Bodamer (4 plays, 22 yards, 1:14), Brookens kick, 4:39
PA – Ty. Miller 60 pass from Bodamer (3 plays, 87 yards, 0:45), kick failed, 2:55
PA – Conway 13 pass from Bodamer (7 plays, 53 yards, 1:54 after Sena fumble recovery), Brookens kick, 0:32
Third Quarter (running clock)
PA – Bodamer 30 run (5 plays, 46 yards, 3:17), Brookens kick, 5:47
B – Tyler 22 pass from Martini (6 plays, 65 yards after Wolfe interception, 3:04), Esposito kick, 9:55
B – Kurtz 2 run (6 plays, 65 yards, 3:21), pass failed, 3:08
|Time of Possession||26:24||21:36|
Rushing: Brockway – Melillo 14-97, Perrin 7-28, Martino 5-26, Titler 3-12, Shaffer-Doane 6-5, Kurtz 1-2, Benson 1-(-2). Port Allegany – Bodamer 7-77, Neal 6-56, Tanner 5-22, Shaffer 2-19, Seefeldt 3-5, team 1-(-19).
Passing: Brockway – Shaffer-Doane 6-15-1-63, Martini 2-4-0-57. Port Allegany – Bodamer 18-22-0-346, Seefeldt 1-5-1-4.
Receiving: Brockway – Isabella 1-45, Glasl 1-35, Tyler 1-22, Perrin 3-9, Morris 2-9. Port Allegany – Ty. Miller 3-106, Bova 6-98, Conway 4-73, Tr. Miller 4-62, Shaffer 1-7, Gaines 1-4.
(Helmets courtesy of the Pennsylvania Helmet Project.)