BELLWOOD - Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic entered Friday night's District 6 Class A semifinal matchup against Bellwood-Antis with the second-best scoring defense in the area.
Featuring one of its biggest defensive fronts in years, BG posted five shutouts and gave up only 10.5 points per game while winning nine of 11 starts coming out of the rugged Laurel Highlands Conference.
However, the Marauders couldn't contain a smaller, quicker Bellwood-Antis offense last night as the Blue Devils raced to a 19-6 victory at Memorial Stadium and garnered a spot in the 6-A championship game next Saturday at Mansion Park against the winner of tonight's Bishop McCort-Northern Cambria game.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Bellwood-Antis’ Casey Gray stiff-arms Bishop Guilfoyle’s EJ Madey on a sweep Friday night in Bellwood.
"It's wonderful to be going to the finals," quarterback Seth Worthing said. "Last year, we came up short [to Penns Manor], and we're hoping for a better outcome this time."
"Bellwood is a great team," BG coach Justin Wheeler said. "They've got a lot of speed and made a lot of big plays tonight, so give them credit."
With their offensive line dominating the trenches, the Blue Devils racked up 224 yards on the ground - most of them by junior Casey Gray, the latest in a long line of outstanding tailbacks tutored by veteran coach John Hayes.
Ironically, the 170-pound Gray did most of his damage on quick hitters inside.
"They were taking the outside away so they didn't leave us much choice," Hayes said. "We played awfully big inside against bigger competition.
"We were able to trap well," he noted. "We didn't get a lot of huge chunks but we were able to move the sticks, and that was probably better because we were hanging onto the ball and dominate the clock like we did in the third quarter."
Thanks to a 70-yard pass-run play from Worthing to tight end Ian O'Shea midway through the second quarter, the Blue Devils led 6-0 at the half.
O'Shea missed much of the season with broken ribs and a high ankle sprain and said he was just happy "to be back for the good part of the season."
"I didn't expect to get that many yards," O'Shea said of the long TD play, "but it opened up. I was a little out of breath at the end of the run, but it was fun."
"It's not supposed to be a big play," Worthing said, "but O'Shea did an amazing job breaking it."
The Blue Devils put together a 74-yard, 16-play, time-consuming drive (over 9 minutes) that culminated with Worthing's 2-yard bootleg to start the second half and the Marauders never recovered.
"It's a good feeling when you can go out and do that ... use the clock and score," Hayes said. "If you come up empty, it would be a bad feeling, but to use up almost 10 minutes and get that score gives you a little leeway and the kids were able to loosen up and play a little more relaxed.
"It was awfully tense because there was so much on the line."
"That was a tough drive for us," Wheeler admtted. "We thought, at halftime, if we could get a stop and get some momentum ... but credit them because it was a great drive."
B-A center Kyler Maceno said the key was "we kept moving our feet. That's what the coaches kept stressing to us, move your feet and hit them first.
"We have a small line," Maceno said, "but we're used to that, and our backs kept picking the holes. If we didn't have a hole, they bounced it outside."
Gray rambled for a 24-yard TD and Tyler Campbell kicked the PAT for a 19-0 lead midway through the fourth.
"We played some big teams, but I don't think we played a team as aggressive as them," guard Keith Shawley said. "They might be more aggressive than Richland. All week, we practiced holding our blocks long because we knew we were going to have to give Seth [Worthing] some time to throw and get our running backs around the end.
"I think it turned out pretty well."
BG averted a shutout when Pat Irwin tossed a 17-yard pass to Damon Rickens with 5:23 to play.
"Our guys hung in there," Wheeler said. "This team has come a long way in one year. From one win last year to where we wound up ... I'm just proud to be a part of this."
The Marauders took the opening kickoff and marched to the Bellwood 10 before bogging down. Andrew Logue's 30-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Campbell.
"We had a good opening drive, but one mistake towards the end and we had to go for the field goal, and that changed the momentum," Wheeler said.
"The blocked field goal was huge," Hayes said.
Wheeler teaches at Penn Cambria and his name has been linked to the football coaching opening there.
"I haven't even thought about it," Wheeler said. "I'm happy where I am right now."
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bishop Guilfoyle0 0 0 6 - 6
Bellwood-Antis0 6 6 7 - 19
BA-O'Shea 70 pass from S. Woodring (kick failed), 7:53.
BA-S. Woodring 2 run (pass failed), 2:50.
BA-Gray 24 run (Campbell kick), 7:53.
BG-Rickens 17 pass from Irwin (pass failed), 5:23.
RUSHING: Bishop Guilfoyle-Rossman 11-54, Irwin 10-16, Chadbourn 4-11, Kitt 1-(-7). Bellwood-Antis-Gray 30-124, S. Worthing 11-48, DeGennaro 4-15, Campbell 5-11, Snyder 1-12, Stapleton 1-(-4), TEAM 2-(-2).
PASSING: Bishop Guilfoyle-Irwin 9-17-2-91, Chadbourn 1-1-0-11. Bellwood-Antis-S. Worthing 2-7-0-84, Gray 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING: Bishop Guilfoyle-Rickens 5-57, Gormley 4-47, Nardelli 1-7. Bellwood-Antis-O'Shea 1-70, Campbell 1-14.
INTERCEPTIONS: Bellwood-Antis-DeGennaro, Snyder.