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Bellefonte tops BEA in “Backyard Brawl”

By Kenny Varner

BELLEFONTE – This year’s version of the “Backyard Brawl” lived up to its reputation as the Bald Eagle and Bellefonte football teams went head-to-head in a good old smash mouth and physical contest.

The two rivals entered the game with identical records and matched up very evenly in this year’s game.

After two years without a win, the Red Raiders bounced back this season, ending on a high note the victors of a 28-7 in front of their home crowd.

“We were moving the ball well in the first half. We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties. When you run the opening kick off back its hard to recover,” Bellefonte coach Shanon Manning said. “It takes a while to psychologically to recover but we were able to.”

Things started off with a bang when Mitchell Struble took the opening kick off and blazed his way downfield for a 90-yard touchdown with only 14 ticks taken off the game clock. With the successful PAT by Jared Ishler, the Bald Eagles held a 7-0 lead before the Red Raiders knew what hit them.

Struble finished the game as the Eagles’ workhorse, rushing 25 times for a game high 133-yards on the ground.

But after the initial touchdown, both defenses stepped up and was able to contain the other for the rest of the first half.

The Red Raiders defense came up huge on the Bald Eagles’ second offensive possession of the game.

Bald Eagle rolled down the field after starting on its own 31. With strong running by Mitchell Struble and some Bellefonte penalties, the Eagles worked their way down the field to the Red Raiders five.

On fourth down, Bellefonte dodged a huge bullet when Danny Caprio picked off a Jason Jones throw, ending the threat.

With both teams focused on the running game, neither were able to punch it in the rest of the way through the first half, Bald Eagle held its 7-0 lead as it entered the intermission.

With the ball to start out with in the second half, the Red Raiders came out of the halftime primed and ready to go.

It took little time for Bellefonte to get its offense going as it opened with a very important 8-play drive. Highlighting the drive was 39-yard touchdown run by running back Austin Jackson. A kick by Matt Feldman knotted the game at seven with 8:12 left in the third.

“They (Bellefonte)worked the ball well with their counters. Tonight didn’t go the way we wanted it to go and hopefully we can get that changed around and hopefully we can get this thing turned around in the off season here,” Bald Eagle coach Ron Hoover said.

On its next possession, Bald Eagle bounced back and went down the field on a long time consuming 14-play drive.

14 would be the unlucky number for the Eagles on this night as Bald Eagle fumbled at the 15 and it was recovered by Isaiah Hahn. Hahn also was a strong factor in pressuring the quarterback.

Still with the momentum from the previous offensive drive, the Red Raiders scored again. This time it was only a 6-play drive that would produce a score. Jackson, who finished with 123-yards rushing on the night, scored from 5-yards out to take the 14-7 advantage.

His touchdown was set up by a long run of 43 by Nick Jabco. Jabco also finished over the century mark with 119.

Minutes later, the Red Raiders scored once again when quarterback Mark Armstrong muscled it in from one yard out, upping the score to 20-7 with only 4:11 seconds left.

Defensively, Bellefonte had yet one more big play up its sleeve as Tyler Kreger picked off a Jason Jones pass and scampered 35-yards for a touchdown.

A 2-point conversion later, the Red Raiders were up 28-7 with just 3:27 left.

With its win against the Eagles, it caps a clean sweep of all its local Centre County foes like Philipsburg-Osceola, Penns Valley and finally Bald Eagle, capping the 3-win season.

“But the most important thing is that we won the county. That was goal number one we started out with,” Manning said.




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