Week 7: Gators outrun Terrors





Lori Chase
Oct. 22, 2015

The Port Allegany Gators rolled into cold, rainy Otto-Eldred last Friday on a two-game winning streak, knowing they’d most likely need another one to stay tied for the lead in the Allegheny Mountain League North Division standings.

The Terrors didn’t make it easy, stopping the Port offense on downs three times inside the O-E 20. But with the Gator defense keeping their opponent off the scoreboard for the second time in three weeks, two touchdown drives proved to be more than enough points to secure an 18-0 victory and set up a showdown for first place in the AML North at Smethport next Friday night.

“We struggled with red-zone tonight,” Port coach Justin Bienkowski said. “We knew it was going to be tough. Anytime you face Tim Burris, Nick LaBella, Boyd Fitzsimmons, good football guys, classy guys, you know you’ve got to pay attention to detail. Yeah, the score says 18-0, but that goal-line stand at the end was huge for them. They play the game and coach the game the right way, and I wish them all the best.”

With rain and gusting wind once again affecting the passing game, the Gators (4-3, 3-0 AML North) made full use of an offensive wrinkle unveiled against Coudersport, with quarterback Tre Garzel splitting out wide and Dylan Baumgarner and Jordan Seefeldt each taking ‘wildcat’ snaps from center to pile up a season-high 357 rushing yards and 454 of total offense.

“We talked about different ways that we could move the ball on offense,” Bienkowski said. “Tre’s not a running back by trade, so if we put Dylan or Jordan in the backfield … Dylan runs the ball well, Jordan reads the defensive line well. We just figured it gave us more options of running when they stack the box. Just trying to give ourselves more options offensively, and it’s always good to give defenses more things to gameplan for.”

Baumgarner (20 carries-103 yards) and Mac Tanner (14-100) each hit triple digits in yardage, the first time two Port rushers have accomplished that feat since Trent Neal and Matt Bodamer did it at Sheffield in 2012, and Josiah Ramadhan (6-82) and Seefeldt (7-64) also ran well against the Terrors.

“They controlled the clock and controlled the line of scrimmage, and their backs made us miss,” said LaBella, the former Port assistant in his first season at the O-E helm.

Late in a first quarter mostly dominated by a field-position scrum, the Gators set off on a 13-play, 70-yard march to the end zone, with Baumgarner and Seefeldt alternating long runs before Tanner punched the ball in on first-and-goal from the 5. Seefeldt added the two-point run to make the score 8-0 with two minutes and change gone in the second stanza.

After a quick O-E three-and-out, Port went back to its weatherproof ground-and-pound gameplan, chewing up more than seven minutes in a drive that pushed to the Terror 8-yard-line before stalling out as the half ended.

The start of the third quarter duplicated the one against Coudy, with the Gator D forcing a quick punt and the offense on the move again. A long, twisting run by Tanner, stiff-arming a would-be tackler at midfield and spinning away from the sideline, moved the ball to the O-E 33.

Then, they shifted into reverse. Back-to-back holding penalties, topped off with a personal foul on the Port sideline, left the Gators staring at an improbable 1st-and-45 play from their own 30.

No problem. Garzel took the snap and lofted a screen pass to his left, with Baumgarner hauling it in, sidestepping a lunging defender, and picking up a convoy down the visitors’ sideline for a back-breaking 70-yard touchdown catch-and-run. In front of a Terror Senior Night crowd stunned into silence, Tanner added the conversion for a 16-0 lead.

“We’ve been working on the rocket screen, working on coming down the line of scrimmage and getting our line downfield to the next level. We’ve been preaching that since August 10th,” Bienkowski said. “It just all went together, and Dylan got the ball in his hands and made a good play.”

Facing a two-touchdown deficit without their best player, 2014 Big 30 All-Star running back Seth Drummond (out with a knee injury sustained two weeks ago), and with top receiver Heath Stewart still limited in his return from a broken arm, the Terrors struggled to gain any traction all night before finally mounting a drive as the fourth quarter ticked away. A well-executed double pass moved the ball deep into Gator territory, but from first-and-goal, a sack by Baumgarner and a pair of good pass-defense plays by Tanner and Seefeldt ended the threat.

The Port offense took just three plays to flip the field, with Ramadhan breaking loose for 70 yards and Tanner ducking and dodging his way for 19 more to the O-E 1, but the Terrors held once again to take over at their own 9 with just over a minute left in the game. From there, Ramadhan applied the finishing touch with his third tackle-for-loss of the night, blindsiding quarterback Sawyer Drummond in the end zone for a safety to complete the scoring.

Victory safely in hand, Bienkowski and his squad could finally look ahead to Friday’s visit to ancient rival Smethport, with the winner taking control of the division.

“Our focus this week was on Otto-Eldred, because next week wouldn’t mean anything if we went in there at 2-1 in the North,” he said. “But we’ll enjoy this one over the weekend, then start getting ready for coach Berlin’s option offense. They went back more to an old-school 1990’s look. Adam Shunk’s having a heck of a season so far, and they’re big up front.”

The Hubbers (3-4, 3-0 AML North) handled Cameron County 25-8 last week, with Shunk rushing for 257 yards and four touchdowns. The 5-foot-5, 140-pound senior has already joined the 1,000-yard club after only seven games, including three straight 200-yard performances.

“It’ll be a good old-fashioned AML East battle from back in the day. We’re trying to spread out a little and still run, they’re packing the box and running it. I don’t know that there’ll be a whole lot of throwing the ball,” Bienkowski said. “They’ve got Jimmy Duffy and Shunk in the backfield, we’ve got Mac and Dylan, and Josiah gives us some speed. We’re gonna have our best, and I’m pretty sure Jim (Berlin) will have his best ready to go, and we’ll see what happens.”

– With his 100-yard rushing performance and long touchdown catch, Baumgarner made his second appearance on the D9Sports.com Player of the Week honor roll.
– The Gators are now tied with their namesakes from Allegany-Limestone (N.Y.), also 4-3, for third place in the Olean Times Herald Big 30 large-school poll behind Kane (7-0) and St. Marys (6-1).

At Duke Center, Oct. 16:

Score by quarters:
Port Allegany Gators 0 8 8 2 18
Otto-Eldred Terrors 0 0 0 0 0

Scoring summary:
Second Quarter
PA (9:22) – Mac Tanner 5 run (13 plays, 71 yards); Jordan Seefeldt run, 8-0
Third Quarter
PA (6:40) – Dylan Baumgarner 70 pass from Tre Garzel (7 plays, 77 yards); Tanner run, 16-0
Fourth Quarter
PA (1:05) – safety, Josiah Ramadhan tackled Sawyer Drummond in end zone, 18-0

Team statisics:
First Downs: Port 18, O-E 5.
Rushes-Yds: Port 52-357, O-E 28-77.
Passing Yds: Port 77, O-E 22.
Comp-Att-Int: Port 2-6-0, O-E 2-5-0.
Total Yards: Port 434, O-E 99.
Fumbles-Lost: Port 3-0, O-E 0-0.
Punts-Avg: Port 2-39.5, O-E 5-33.2.
Penalties-Yds: Port 9-98, O-E 1-10.
Total Plays: Port 58, O-E 33.
Time of Poss.: Port 27:33, O-E 20:37.

Individual statistics:
Rushing: Port Allegany – Dylan Baumgarner 20 carries-103 yards, Mac Tanner 14-100 (TD), Josiah Ramadhan 6-82, Jordan Seefeldt 7-64, Tre Garzel 5-8. Otto-Eldred – Damen Palmer 14-41, Heath Stewart 9-27, Sawyer Drummond 5-9.
Passing: Port Allegany – Garzel 2 completions-6 attempts-0 interceptions-77 yards (TD). Otto-Eldred – Palmer 1-1-0-21, Drummond 1-4-0-1.
Receiving: Port Allegany – Baumgarner 1 catch-70 yards (TD), Seefeldt 1-7. Otto-Eldred – Grant West 1-21, Palmer 1-1.

(Helmets courtesy of the Pennsylvania Helmet Project.)

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