August 8, 2013
For a while on Saturday night, it looked like the fortieth edition of the Don Raabe Big 30 Charities Classic was going to be a lot closer than most observers predicted … but by the end of the third quarter, the outcome was no longer in doubt.
Marching deep into New York territory almost every time they touched the ball, the high-octane Pennsylvania offense piled up yards and points at a recordbreaking pace, rolling to a 53-12 victory at Bradford’s Parkway Field to narrow New York’s lead in the series to 20-18-2.
Port Allegany quarterback Matt Bodamer tossed three of the four Pennsy touchdown passes in the game – two of those to teammate Tyce Miller, who finished with a game-high 134 receiving yards – and Eisenhower’s John Pascuzzi rushed for 111 yards and two scores to lead a Keystone attack that never punted until its final possession. Coudersport’s Caden Whitman and the Warren tandem of quarterback Austin Jerman and Mark Davis also found the end zone for Pennsylvania.
“I was a little skeptical at first, because they’re big up front defensively and they’ve got a great staff, so I knew they’d throw some sort of scheme at us that we hadn’t prepared for throughout the week. But our line did a bang-up job,” said offensive coordinator Jason Luther. “A couple of mental mistakes inside the 10 hurt us at first, but the kids bounced back. The way our offense works, as long as we can get stops on defense, we’re going to wear on you like a fungus.”
Two long touchdown catches by Pat Scholla, the second a spectacular leaping fingertip grab that the Olean receiver converted into a 71-yard score, and a pair of goal-line stands kept the Empire State within striking distance well into the second quarter. But when New York took over at its own 1 after the second Pennsy turnover on downs, the defense was ready for them. After a penalty moved the ball out to the 15, Coudersport’s Mitch Freeman sacked quarterback Tanner John to put them right back where they started, and heavy pressure on the following play forced an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone for a safety. Taking over at the New York 41 with 1:48 left in the half, Bodamer was right at home on the familiar Parkway Field turf, with two long completions to Bradford’s Matt Yurkewicz to set up a short touchdown pass to Eisenhower tight end Nate O’Brien. Bodamer called his own number for the two-point conversion, and Pennsylvania took a 28-12 lead into the locker room.
For head coach Mike Bodamer, the sequence marked the game’s turning point.
“That safety really lit things underneath us right before halftime,” he said.
Added Luther, “They might have had some goal-line stops, but at the same time they had to have been thinking. I think we had them on their heels a little bit. Granted, we didn’t score, but we never lost momentum. There was never that swing. Normally when you get a couple of stops inside the 5 defensively, there’s that swing, but it never happened. That’s a lot of credit to Mr. Bienkowski and his defense. We were outsized, but our defense is super-athletic. They never let it happen.”
As the score mounted, the size disparity that had concerned coach Bodamer – “I honestly don’t know if we can stop them,” he said of New York’s power rushing game behind its trio of massive offensive tackles – never became a factor. The front seven stood its ground, allowing just 2 yards per rushing attempt for the game and only one foray inside its own 20-yard line after the first quarter.
“I thought the defense played really well other than a couple times where we had a broken coverage, and you’re going to have that with not having more than two weeks of practice,” defensive tackle Nick Budd said. “You’re not going to play exactly perfect, but I thought the defense played extremely well. Everybody flowed well together. You’d get a big hit, get up and smack each other on the butt. It was fun.”
Likewise, the unheralded offensive line quietly did its job, never giving up a sack despite a game-record 48 passing attempts by the two Pennsy quarterbacks.
“Those guys were obviously taking a back seat to the skill guys with all the records and the newspaper clippings, the things like that,” said Justin Bienkowski, who worked with the linemen in addition to assisting Bodamer with the defense while Luther and Nate Zitnik handled the offense. “But they got better every day, and they were willing to work. Complete 100 percent credit to those guys up front, because they gave Matt and Austin an opportunity to do really well tonight.
“Usually when you have all-stars, they’re like, ‘I don’t need to work.’ But every night we came to practice, whatever town we were in, they worked hard.”
If there was still any doubt about the outcome, two Pennsylvania touchdowns in a 12-second span put them to rest midway through the third quarter.
A successful fake punt kept New York’s opening drive of the second half alive, but Kane’s Sean Rolick ended the threat with a fourth-down interception, and Jerman capped off a backbreaking 92-yard march with a short touchdown run to give Pennsylvania a 35-12 lead. New York fumbled the ensuing kickoff, with Smethport’s Karl Lightner coming out of the pile with the ball, and Matt Bodamer found a wide-open Miller for the 29-yard score on the next play.
“That big turnover on the kick when we got the fumble, and Matt came in and threw a touchdown on the first play, it was pretty much over at that point,” Mike Bodamer said. “It was supposed to just be an out to Tyce, but there wasn’t anybody there. So Tyce just broke it off long, and Matt’s like, ‘Okay, we’ll throw it to him.’”
Another defensive stop led to Pascuzzi’s second short touchdown run, making it 47-12 with 0:47 left in the third quarter and invoking the PIAA “mercy rule” for the first time in the game’s history. With the clock running, the Bodamer-to-Miller tandem hooked up for one final touchdown midway through the fourth quarter to complete the scoring.
“Since I was absolutely tiny, on the sideline with my dad managing when he had the Big 30 Game, it’s always been in my dreams to play with him. It’s always been something I’ve strived to do,” Matt Bodamer said. “Coming out with the win and doing what we were supposed to do – those kids are so great – it was just everything that I wished for.”
It was a night to remember for the elder Bodamer, as well, and a fitting sendoff for an outstanding senior class.
“Not only Matt, but the other seven (Port) kids – it was fun having them all together again for one last time,” he said. “It’s a good way to go out with them.”
40th Don Raabe Big 30 Charities Classic
At Bradford, Aug. 3:
|Score by quarters:|
NY – (10:59) Pat Scholla 29 pass from Ryan Miller (7 plays, 64 yards, 2:17); kick failed, 6-0
PA – (8:46) Mark Davis 11 pass from Austin Jerman (6 plays, 72 yards, 2:13); kick blocked, 6-6
PA – (6:35) Caden Whitman 1 run (6 plays, 28 yards, 1:12); pass failed, 6-12
PA – (1:53) John Pascuzzi 4 run (10 plays, 63 yards, 2:34); run failed, 6-18
NY – (0:22) Pat Scholla 71 pass from Tanner John (3 plays, 70 yards, 1:31); run failed, 12-18
PA – (1:53) Safety, John intentional grounding in end zone; 12-20
PA – (0:54) Nathan O’Brien 2 pass from Matt Bodamer (4 plays, 41 yards, 0:59): Bodamer run, 12-28
PA – (6:20) Jerman 1 run (9 plays, 92 yards, 2:43); T.J. Hardy kick, 12-35
PA – (6:08) Tyce Miller 29 pass from Bodamer (1 play, 29 yards after Karl Lightner fumble recovery, 0:06); kick failed, 12-41
PA – (0:47) Pascuzzi 1 run (13 plays, 79 yards, 3:53); kick blocked, 12-47
PA – (7:07) Miller 31 pass from Bodamer (7 plays, 59 yards, 2:46); kick failed, 12-53
|Time of Possession||32:18||27:42|
New York – Zach Wood 6-28, Tanner John 4-18, Ryan Miller 6-14, Jordan Dowiasz 9-6, Matt Booth 7-6, Kyle Hoffman 4-0.
Pennsylvania – John Pascuzzi 19-111, Austin Jerman 9-37, Caden Whitman 7-35, Matt Bodamer 3-10, Rickie Bova 0-3 (fumble recovery).
New York – Miller 9-13-0-96, 1 TD; John 7-18-1-128, 1 TD; Pat Scholla 0-1-0-0.
Pennsylvania – Bodamer 16-23-0-227, 3 TD; Jerman 15-25-0-199, 1 TD.
New York – Scholla 3-121, Wood 3-32, Kyle Stover 3-26, Ryan Schutte 3-21, John 2-13, Booth 1-7, Dowiasz 1-4.
Pennsylvania – Tyce Miller 7-134, Mitch Holmberg 7-92, Zac McKnight 3-74, Matt Yurkewicz 2-48, Nick Conway 5-36, Mark Davis 4-36, Pascuzzi 1-5, Nathan O’Brien 1-2, Bova 1-(-1).