HOUTZDALE - A cramp put a crimp in Moshannon Valley's designs to knock Bellwood-Antis from Inter-County Conference preeminence, and the Blue Devils weren't about to let the Black Knights get back up.
Tanner Snyder ran for a career-best three touchdowns and 120 yards as Bellwood put its opening-week loss to Tyrone in the rearview mirror with a 34-7 ICC interdivisional win at the Moshannon Valley Athletic Field.
"This game was big, especially coming off a loss to Tyrone. We had to come back and rebound good. We knew Mo Valley was going to be tough. They beat West Branch pretty bad last week," Snyder said. "We started out kind of slow. As the game went along, we got into the pace, we got ready, and our line did great."
Held in check for much of the game, Casey Gray rushed for 130 of his game-high 169 yards in the second half, scoring on a 5-yard run and a 41-yard interception return in the last 2:02 to set the final.
"The first game is a big test. There's a lot of emotions. But, the second week, you really have to be able to recover," B-A coach John Hayes said. "They're a good football team. They've got some playmakers. They made some big plays. Fortunately, we were able to contain it where they didn't get the long run, and, eventually, they ran out of gas."
The Devils were clinging to a 7-0 lead when Knight quarterback Eric Sherkel limped off the field with leg cramps at the 6:13 mark of the third quarter and Mo Valley having just driven over midfield headed for a potential tying score.
Mo Valley gained 1 yard on the next three plays and punted back to B-A, which drove 81 yards on 10 plays to go up 14-0 on Snyder's second 1-yard TD plunge.
"We played 3 quarters of hard football. Whatever the score, if we play the way we played for three quarters and correct our mistakes, we're going to be there with anybody," Mo Valley coach Michael Keith said. "I told our kids I couldn't be more proud of the effort they gave. We moved the ball consistently up and down the field. They did an excellent job inside the 20s to shut us down."
Sherkel came back to throw a 36-yard scoring strike to Justin Kitko and finish with 156 yards on 23 carries.
"As explosive as they were, I held my breath every time they snapped the ball," Hayes said. "But, when you get [ahead by more than one touchdown], you have room for one mistake. We were fortunate to get another one. That kind of put them in one dimension as far as what they could do."
Getting ahead by two touchdowns was huge in a game where scoring was at a premium until the last 4:12, when the teams combined to find the end zone four times. Mo Valley rushed for 217 yards and netted almost 300 total but was limited to one touchdown. Five Knight drives stalled inside B-A territory.
"They were getting good [yardage] outside, so we switched to a 30-tough [alignment]. That leaves our ends more to contain and gives us more room to work. It led to some big plays," B-A senior lineman Nick Torsell said. "Losing to Tyrone was a big down, so this is huge, getting our first win."
It's old hat for the Devils: They haven't lost to an ICC opponent since October of the 2007 season, a string of more than 40 games.
"There's not much pressure [to keep the streak going]. We know the teams are tough and they aren't going to roll over. We just have to come out and get the job done," Snyder said.
Game notes: Bellwood rushed for 310 yards. ... Mo Valley played without senior captain Kent Stewart, who had 16 tackles last week and caught 21 passes last year. Stewart was on crutches with an infection in his knee and should be back soon. ... The Knights are sporting new black helmets with a decal after decades of wearing all white helmets. ... Next Friday. Bellwood hosts West Branch while Mo Valley travels to Tussey Mountain.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bellwood-Antis0 7 7 20 - 34
Moshannon Valley0 0 0 7 - 7
BA-T. Snyder 1 run (Creppage kick), 4:23.
BA-T. Snyder 1 run (Creppage kick), 0:53.0.
BA-T. Snyder 21 run (Creppage kick), 4:12.
MV-Kitko 36 pass from Sherkel (Kitko kick), 3:53.
BA-Gray 5 run (Creppage kick), 2:02.
BA-Gray 41 interception return (kick failed), 1:46.
RUSHING: Bellwood-Antis-Gray 20-169, T. Snyder 15-120, Stapleton 2-23, Lardieri 3-13, Burch 4-(-15). Moshannon Valley-Sherkel 23-156, Elder 18-60, Kitko 1-1.
PASSING: Bellwood-Antis-Burch 5-9-0-57. Moshannon Valley-Sherkel 7-16-1-73, Kitko 0-2-0-0.
RECEIVING: Bellwood-Antis-T. Snyder 3-31, Zitterbart 1-6, Gray 1-20. Moshannon Valley-Kitko 3-39, Demko 3-13, Krupa 1-17.
INTERCEPTIONS: Bellwood-Antis-Gray. Moshannon Valley-none.