PORT ALLEGANY GATORS (6-5)
KANE WOLVES (10-0)
Nov. 19, 2015
Following a season where weather played a major role in deciding several area football games, Mother Nature had one last trick up her sleeve for last Friday’s Port Allegany-Kane District 9 Class A quarterfinal.
The game was moved to Bradford by D-9 officials after midweek rains rendered the well-used field in Kane unplayable, but a wintry blast of ‘football weather’ starting shortly before kickoff left both teams slipping and sliding on the snow-covered artificial turf at Parkway Field.
Advantage: Kane. With the tandem of Shane (157 yards) and Tyler Rolick (107) combining for three rushing touchdowns behind the blocking of fellow Big 30 All-Stars Jake Shrubb and Toby Fox, the second-seeded Wolves (10-0) plowed their way to a 29-6 victory, advancing to a semifinal rematch against Curwensville while ending Port’s 2015 campaign at 6-5 with their third win of the season over the Gators.
“They’re built for poor conditions,” Port coach Justin Bienkowski said, “but by no means is that an excuse why we lost. That’s a well-deserving football team. They’re big up front; they were moving us, and we just couldn’t counteract their size and their athleticism in the backfield.”
Said Kane coach Todd Silfies, after watching both Rolick twins hit the 100-yard mark for the second week in a row: “Really, it starts up front with our offensive and defensive lines. They set the tone. It was obviously a night in which you needed to run the football. We were able to do that, and that’s why we were successful.”
With both teams struggling to hang on to the ball in the wintry conditions, the Wolves took an early lead, nearly recovering a Gator fumble in the end zone before the ball squirted out of their grasp and past the back line for a safety.
Following an exchange of punts, the game turned in Port’s direction on, of all things, another Gator fumble. A hard hit popped the ball loose from running back Mac Tanner, but center Jacy Richardson was in perfect position to snag it out of midair. He took off for the end zone 65 yards away with his fellow offensive linemen forming a convoy behind him, walling off the desperate Wolves who were giving chase. The two-point conversion attempt failed, but with 3:41 left in the first quarter, the Gators held a 6-2 lead — the first time Kane had trailed since its Week 5 game against Ridgway, and just the second time all season.
“I can’t actually give away the name of it, but we’re going to have to call it the ‘ginger spice’ or something,” Bienkowski said with a laugh, referring to the red-haired Richardson. “That was a pretty exciting play. Our guys took advantage of one of their miscues. We knew that turnovers were going to maybe play a part with that weather.”
The steady burst of lake-effect snow forced a delay soon afterward, with players, coaches, cheerleaders, officials, and volunteers from both towns joining forces to try to clear the sidelines and yard markers with their feet.
For the second-year Port head coach, it brought back memories of the Gators’ 2012 D-9 championship game win against Clarion on the same snow-covered turf.
“When we went out there for special teams, it just kept coming and coming and coming. And when we started having to help brush the field off, that’s when deja vu really set in. I had a shovel in my hand three years ago, on the other side of the field,” he said. “Nobody knew it was going to be that bad (tonight). My weather app failed me.”
Port was still ahead as the second quarter began, but Kane was beginning to win the field-position battle, with Tyler Rolick returning a punt to the Gator 25, then capping off a short drive by bulling in for a 4-yard touchdown to retake the lead at 8-6.
The Wolves tried to surprise Port with an onside kick, but the ball rolled to a stop in the snow before traveling the required 10 yards. The Gators took over with their best field position of the night, pushing forward to the Kane 21 before sledding to a stop with a turnover on downs.
That was the closest they’d get for the rest of the game. Kane manufactured another scoring drive just before halftime, with Tyler Rolick tacking on his second rushing touchdown from 15 yards out to give the AML champs a 16-6 lead at the break. The Port offense spun its wheels in the snow in the second half, managing just a single first down and 11 yards of offense in the final two quarters, and the Wolves added a late pair of insurance touchdowns to advance to the semifinals.
Afterward, Silfies had plenty of respect for his opponent.
“Hats off to Port Allegany and all their seniors. That’s a football team that battled all year,” he said. “Great job by their coaching staff, and obviously by their kids.”
Thirteen Gator seniors played their final football game in orange and black, leaving the program with several holes to fill next season.
“It’s going to be a tough class to replace,” Bienkowski said. “They’ve known pretty much success from the time they came in. They had a couple of down years the last couple, but finished with some success, winning the North. Good kids that work hard. I wish them the best in their winter season and into the spring.”
He concluded, “It’s always unfortunate when it’s over, but it was a good season. To say it wasn’t successful would be crazy. I wish Kane all the best to represent the AML well in the district playoffs, and hopefully in the state playoffs. Kudos to them.”
DISTRICT IX CLASS A QUARTERFINAL
At Bradford, Nov. 13:
Port A – 6 0 0 0 – 6
Kane – 2 14 0 13 – 29
Kane (7:34) – Safety, Port fumble out of end zone, 0-2
Port (3:26) – Jacy Richardson 65 fumble recovery (1 play, 65 yards, 0:15); pass failed, 6-2
Kane (8:35) – Tyler Rolick 4 run (5 plays, 64 yards, 1:44); kick failed, 6-8
Kane (1:38) – T. Rolick 15 run (3 plays, 25 yards, 0:47); Ange Costanzo pass from Shane Rolick, 6-16
Kane (6:30) – S. Rolick 1 run (7 plays, 53 yards, 2:50); T. Rolick kick, 6-23
Kane (1:32) – Jake Shrubb recovered blocked punt in end zone; kick failed, 6-29
First Downs: Port 5, Kane 17.
Rushes-Yds: Port 24-29, Kane 52-257.
Passing Yds: Port 61, Kane 37.
Comp-Att-Int: Port 4-22-1, Kane 4-9-0.
Total Yards: Port 90, Kane 294.
Fumbles-Lost: Port 6-1, Kane 3-1.
Punts-Avg: Port 7-27.1, Kane 6-31.8.
Penalties-Yds: Port 8-80, Kane 6-35.
Total Plays: Port 46, Kane 61.
Time of Poss.: Port 18:33, Kane 29:27.
Rushing: Port – Jacy Richardson 0-65, Josiah Ramadhan 5-10, Jordan Seefeldt 1-0, Mac Tanner 5-(-1), Dylan Baumgarner 6-(-3), Tre Garzel 4-(-5), team 4-(-26). Kane – Shane Rolick 22-157 (TD), Tyler Rolick 23-107 (2 TD), Ange Costanzo 1-(-1), Tyler Weidenhoff 3-(-6), team 3-0.
Passing: Port – Garzel 3-17-0-45 yards, Tanner 1-2-0-16, Baumgarner 0-1-1-0, Seefeldt 0-2-0-0. Kane: S. Rolick 4-9-0-37.
Receiving: Port – Jake Kallenborn 1-27, Baumgarner 1-19, Garzel 1-16, Tanner 1-(-1). Kane – Ray Maze 1-21, Costanzo 1-7, Isaac Walters 1-7, Davis Gardner 1-2.
(Helmets courtesy of the Pennsylvania Helmet Project.)