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Bald Eagle rallies forces OT; tops Bedford on missed Bison PAT

By Kenny Varner

HOLLIDAYSBURG – Playing against the 10th ranked football team in Class AAA in their PIAA state playoff game Friday, the Bald Eagle football team showed a heart of a champion as it knocked off Bedford 21-20 in an overtime thriller.

The Bison opened with a 14-0 first half lead before the Eagles rallied back strongly in part because of its stingy defense that produced three clutch turnovers in the second to help force an overtime period.

In the overtime period, Bald Eagle and quarterback Jaden Jones opened with the ball and scored on its second play from scrimmage, finding a wide open Gage McClenahan for the go ahead touchdown.

But it looked as if the game was heading into another extra period as Bison quarterback Mercury Swain muscled his way through the Eagle defense on the first play from scrimmage but the PAT attempt failed and the celebration began on the Eagles sidelines as they advance to the elite eight and will live to play another day.

“We told the guys at halftime to just believe in each other. We’ve dealt with a lot this year and I told them we were so close so many times but  we just couldn’t finish it,” said Bald Eagle coach Jessie Nagle. “I just told them, “Guys m, believe in yourselves. We’ve been down this road before with Clearfield. We felt that Clearfield was a very good football team.”

McClenahan was the leader on the field in this game, collecting a late fumble, picking up an interception early in the third to take the ball from the Bison, ran for 67 yards and caught nine passes for 110 yards en route to the victory.

Jones came up clutch for the Eagles as well hitting Matt Reese on a fourth down and goal from the six for the tying touchdown to send the game into overtime. He finished with 200 yards passing on the night, 35 on the ground and 10 yards receiving on trick play.

However early on, the Bison opened the game with the momentum.

On a long Bedford drive, Miles Washington posted a 6-yard TD run  to put his team up 6-0 while kicker Lizzy Martz made it 7-0 with :30 left in the opening period.

But the Eagles moved the ball on the Bison but once they got into the red zone, Bedford left them leaving empty handed.

In the second quarter, the Bison went up 14-0 when running back  Steven Russler got loose on a 51-yard Run with 8:51 left until the intermission.

The Eagles has two drives that stopped late as the two teams went into the half with the Bison holding onto a 14-0 advantage despite being out played by the Eagles.

During the half, Bald Eagle regrouped and started the march back into the game.

Turnovers were the name of the game in the second as the Eagles forced two interceptions and two fumbles, helping get their team back into the ball game.

It would be McClenahan that led the charge as he marched in for the 5-yard run and with a Carter Stere kick, the Eagles were down just a touchdown at 3:40 in the third.

Ben Yetsko’s interception late in the third gave the Eagles a chance to tie things but much like the first half, the Bison would hold the Eagles just inches short of the first down at the one before taking the ball over on downs.

But that didn’t deter the Eagles as the defense went right back to work, forcing Ressler to fumble at his own 16 on a pass from Swain.

With new life, Bald Eagle went right to its ground game and McClenahan to put the Eagles down to the six.

But again the Eagles faced a fourth down inside the 10.

With all the pressure on his shoulders Jones Himes the ball and scrambled around the backfield before hitting Reese with 1:06 left.

In the overtime, the Eagles were able to hold onto the victory after the Bison PAT failed.

Bald Eagle will be back in action next week at a location and a team to be determined at a later date.

Bald Eagle Area 21, Bedford 20 (OT)

BED  7 7 0 0 6 -20

BEA 0 0 7 7 7 – 21


First Quarter

BED – Miles Washington 6-yard run (Lizzy Martz kick) :30

Second Quarter

BED -Steven Russler 51-yard Rin (Martz kick), 8:51.

Third Quarter

BEA – Gage McClenahan 5-yard run (Carter Stere kick)3:40.

Fourth Quarter

BEA – Jaden Jones 5-yard pass TD pass to Matt Reese (Stere kick), 1:06.


BEA – Jones 10-yard TD pass to Gage McClenhan (Stere kick)

BED – Mercury Swain 10-yard run (kick failed)

Team statists        BED      BEA

First downs            11           21

Rushes-Yards     30-203 37-143

Passing -yards   75           210

C-A-I                    5-12-2  23-44-1

Fumbles               3-3         0-0

Penalties -yards 7-67      3-20


Rushing: BED – Mercury Swain 8-46, Steven Ressler 5-95, Miles Washington 6-18, Elijah Cook 11-44. BEA –  Jaden Jones  5-38, Tommy Snyder 4-12, Hayden Vaughn 1-3, Gage McClenahan    23-67, Kaden Bittinger 2-3, Gavin Eckley 4-23.

Passing: BED – Swain 4-10 40, Ressler 1-1-35. BEA – Jones 22-40-200, Bittinger 1-2 10.

Receiving: BED – Ressler 2-18, Washington 2-22, Greg Edwards 1-35. BEA – Gage McClenahan     9-110, Kaden Bittinger 3-19, Hayden Vaughn 1-5, Eckley 1-3, Vaughn 1-5, Matt Reese 8-63, Jones 1-10.

Interceptions:  BED – Ressler. BEA – McClenahan, Ben Yetsko .

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