BELLWOOD - Bellwood-Antis' Casey Gray is a pretty good baseball player, and on his last two carries against Juniata Valley Friday night at Memorial Field, he hit the equivalent of two home runs.
Gray scored on a 34-yard run with 10:26 left in the homecoming game, and then he scampered 61 yards to the end zone with 5:50 left.
"Once I got four, I was trying to get five," Gray said smiling.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Bellwood-Antis’ Casey Gray breaks off a big gain en route to a touchdown against Juniata Valley.
It was the culmination of a big night for Gray, who scored five touchdowns, ran for 236 yards and caught a 46-yard pass from Seth Worthing that set up a 1-yard TD run in the first half. Gray also had TD runs of 51 and 3 yards.
It was also a big night for the Blue Devils, who earned a 47-34 win in a meeting of undefeated teams.
"I've just got to give credit to all the blockers," said Gray, whose team improved to 4-0. "I just followed the holes they gave me. That was probably the best game I've ever had rushing."
"He has that kind of potential," B-A coach John Hayes said. "We're fortunate that we have a number of guys we can balance it out with. He made the most of his opportunities. And the guys blocked well for him, so it was a good combination."
The final score between teams ranked in the top three in the area in scoring was expected, but the Hornets (3-1) scored two touchdowns in the final 16.3 seconds. JV recovered the onside kick, and quarterback Caleb Taylor threw a 24-yard TD pass to Brett Grissinger, who led the Hornets with 122 rushing yards and 85 receiving yards.
The Hornets, who rallied to win against Claysburg-Kimmel, scored against the B-A reserves, but Hayes was still a little disappointed.
"We just didn't finish the game very well," Hayes said. "So, that takes a lot of luster off of the positive things that we did. It's a great teaching opportunity. We'll no more after we look at films."
"I was proud of how we finished the game again," JV coach Mike Smith said. "We just kept fighting at the end."
An odd statistic from the game was the total plays. JV had 30 more rushing plays, 63-33, and 35 more total plays, 75-40.
"They have a good offense," Hayes said. "They're diversified. They've got talented kids, and they run it well. We just didn't react very well to it."
The B-A defense, however, did make a big stop on fourth down in the first half that led to the first TD. B-A threw Jesse Claar, who scored scored on TD runs of 19, 5 and 1, for a 1-yard loss on fourth down in the first quarter, and the Devils marched 44 yards in eight plays and finished it off with a Gray 3-yard run.
"In games like this, it's those kind of stops that gives you pretty good field position," Hayes said. "With that, in addition, comes momentum. They're a little dejected, and you get psyched a little bit. We were fortunate to score off of those."
The game was hard-hitting, especially early in the game. B-A QB Seth Worthing (109 yards passing) suffered what appeared to be an ankle injury late in the half, but he returned in the second half to throw a 20-yard scoring strike to Haden DeGennaro. JV lost Caleb Wagner late in the second quarter after a 3-yard run and a hard tackle, and he didn't return.
"We've got a couple guys that got nicked up," Hayes said. "Their kids hit hard. That was a good football team, and when we play in games like that, you're going to come out of them physically bruised."
Claar got the Hornets to within 14 points, 34-20, on a 5-yard with 3.7 seconds left in the third but Gray's late runs salted the win away for the Devils.
"I think the defense was getting tired," Gray, "so they were just slowing down. I had more of a chance to get out there in the open."
"He's a really good running back," Smith said. "We were doing a really good job of containing him and Worthing in the first quarter, but then we got out of our assignments and left gaps there, and you can't do that against a good running back.
Both teams can take a lot from a test like Friday's. Amid a joyous, music-filled locker room, Gray was happy to get the win.
"We knew it was a big game for both of us," Gray said. "It was a must-win. This is great. It's just like you would imagine beating another undefeated team."
Game notes: Lindsey Mercer was announced as the homecoming queen at halftime. ... B-A amassed 427 yards to JV's 360. ... JV's Devin Low picked off Worthing's first pass. DeGennaro picked off Grissinger on a halfback pass.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Juniata Valley0 7 13 14 - 34
Bellwood-Antis6 20 8 13 - 47
BA-Gray 3 run (kick failed), 1:09.
JV-Grissinger 3 run (Staber kick), 10:00.
BA-Gray 51 run (C. Worthing pass from Gray), 8:31.
BA-C. Worthing 36 pass from S. Worthing (kick failed), 6:47.
BA-Gray 1 run (run failed), 4:35.
JV-Je. Claar 19 run (kick failed), 8:24.
BA-DeGennaro 20 pass from S. Worthing (Gates pass from S. Worthing), 6:32.
JV-Je. Claar 5 run (Staber kick), :3.7
BA-Gray 34 run (pass failed), 10:26.
BA-Gray 61 run (Campbell kick), 5:50.
JV-Je. Claar 1 run (Staber kick), :16.3.
JV-Grissinger 24 pass from Taylor (Staber kick), :8.4
RUSHING: Juniata Valley-Grissinger 23-122, Je. Claar 25-76, Wagner 4-21, Taylor 5-20, Maysonet 6-20. Bellwood-Antis-Gray 18-236, DeGennaro 2-47, Campbell 6-33, S. Worthing 3-30, Snyder 1-7, TEAM 1-(-1), Stapleton 1-(-4), O. Worthing 1-(-20).
PASSING: Juniata Valley-Taylor 6-11-0-101, Grissinger 0-1-1-0. Bellwood-Antis-S. Worthing 4-6-1-109, Gray 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING: Juniata Valley-Grissinger 5-85, Maysonet 1-16. Bellwood-Antis-Gray 1-46, C. Worthing 2-43, DeGennaro 1-20.
INTERCEPTIONS: Juniata Valley-Low. Bellwood-Antis-DeGennaro.