CAMERON COUNTY RED RAIDERS (0-5)
PORT ALLEGANY GATORS (2-3)
Oct. 8, 2015
The outcome was in doubt until the last minute of the game, but in the end, even a nasty dose of wet weather on Saturday afternoon couldn’t put a damper on Port Allegany High School’s Homecoming celebration.
In conditions more befitting actual alligators than their human football-playing counterparts, Josiah Ramadhan’s late fourth-quarter touchdown run propelled the Gators to a 6-0 win over Cameron County in both teams’ Allegheny Mountain League North Division opener.
“It was an ugly one, but any win’s a good win. There’s no style points,” coach Justin Bienkowski said after watching his squad down the Red Raiders for the fourth time in five seasons.
With a steady rain falling throughout most of the morning and well into the game, neither side was able to gain much traction as “The Swamp” lived up to its nickname. Running backs slipped and slid trying to cut back on the muddy turf. Passing attempts, and sometimes even shotgun snaps from center, were an adventure.
Following a Cameron County fumble recovery on the opening kickoff, almost the entire first half was played deep in Port territory, with the Gator defense thwarting the Red Raiders time after time to keep the game scoreless.
They never stood taller than the last minute of the second quarter, when a 12-yard run by Caleb Burnside — the longest rushing play of the game by either team — gave CCHS a first-and-goal from the 5. But three plays only moved the ball to the 1, and after an injury timeout allowed the visitors one last crack at the end zone, the Gator defensive line broke through into the backfield to blow up the play as the clock hit 0:00.
“I thought we had a solid first half, but not punching one there in at the end of the half obviously was the difference in the game,” Cameron County coach Mike Kunes said.
That was the last play the Red Raiders would run on Port’s side of midfield, against a Gator defense which allowed just one first down and six total yards after the break.
“The second half, Ethan Budd and TyDel Green dominated the middle,” Bienkowski said. “Bryan Stahlman played well at one end, and we were able to mix and match Cody Lentz, Jacy Richardson and Jesse Rush at the other end. And Dylan Baumgarner is one of the best middle linebackers in the North.
“Defense gets the praise. I told (defensive coordinator Nate) Zitnik as I was high-fiving him out here, it’s always good to get a shutout. We both come from that defensive mentality; any time you can keep a zero on the board is great.”
With the field-position battle already tilting in their favor, Budd led a breakthrough into the CCHS backfield to block a punt with 4:28 remaining, setting the offense up at the Raider 30.
On second down, quarterback Tre Garzel dropped back to pass, bobbled the ball, picked it up out of the mud, and threw a strike deep down the middle to Jordan Seefeldt, who outleaped a pair of Cameron County defenders to haul in the catch at the 5.
“’Go up and make a play for us.’ We’ve told him all year, ‘Somehow, some way, find a way to get it done,’” Bienkowski said. “And he got it done.”
It only took one more play from there to finally dent the scoreboard, with Ramadhan slithering into the end zone with 3:14 on the clock. The extra-point attempt failed, but Cameron County’s final drive ended with Budd notching a sack on fourth-and-long, and the Gators ran out the clock for the win.
“There was a gritty bunch of 20 kids in pads out there today. We talked about the AML North probably all offseason; here we are today, and we got the first step,” Bienkowski said. “We’ll enjoy the heck out of it, and then we’ll be on to Coudy. We saw them last night, and they’re quick and athletic. Ben Cary and his staff do a good job of getting their athletes the ball in space. (Darren) Keglovits can throw the ball well, and there are a lot of athletes on their team. We’re 1-0 in the North, they’re 1-0 in the North. So we’ll see how it goes, and let the best team win.
“But we’re going to enjoy this one before we worry about that one.”
– Mac Tanner, who led the Gator defense with 12 total tackles (7.5 solo), was named to the D9Sports.com Player of the Week honor roll.
– Seefeldt recorded the only Gator takeaway with a second-quarter interception.
– Budd finished with 2.5 of the team’s eight tackles for loss, with Nate Lowery (1.5), Tanner (1.5), Rush (1), Stahlman (1), and Green (0.5) also spending time in the CCHS backfield.
– Port won despite recording more penalty yardage (79) than total offense (55). One of those flags was on the Port sideline, which left an apologetic Bienkowski crediting the rest of his staff for keeping things under control.
“A hundred thousand percent of the credit goes to the assistant coaches,” he said. “Some of the things I was doing down there, I got flagged — completely my fault — the assistant coaches picked up my shortcomings today. They deserve this victory with the kids.”
– The weekend ended on a somber note with the news that 1987 PAHS grad Paul Robbins, a mainstay of Port’s last unbeaten team, a Big 30 All-Star, and the 1986 Big 30 Defensive Player of the Year, passed away on Saturday.
Paul Andrew Robbins
Olean Times Herald: Robbins will be remembered for his passion
At Port Allegany, Oct. 2:
|Score by quarters:
|Cameron County Red Raiders
|Port Allegany Gators
PA (3:14) – Josiah Ramadhan 5 run (3 plays, 30 yards, 1:14 after blocked punt); run failed, 6-0
|Time of Possession
Rushing: CC – Burnside 23 carries-39 yards, Tristan Reed 11-29, Derek Rieder 12-(-3). Port – Ramadhan 9-25, Tanner 16-24, Garzel 7-(-20).
Passing: CC – Rieder 1-6-1-7 yards. Port – Garzel 2-6-0-26.
Receiving: CC – Ethan Vislay 1 catch-7 yards. Port – Seefeldt 1-25, Tanner 1-1.
(Helmets courtesy of the Pennsylvania Helmet Project.)