ALEXANDRIA - Bellwood-Antis coach John Hayes turned to his ground game to move the ball, score points and play keep-away from Juniata Valley's potent offense.
Only it wasn't 3 yards and a cloud of dust. It was more like 20 yards and a cloud of dust on the bone-dry, brown grass of A.R. Simkins Field.
The Blue Devils churned out 400 rushing yards, including 187 on 15 carries and two touchdowns from fullback Tanner Snyder and 169 yards on 21 carries, three rushing TDs and a 34-yard TD catch from tailback Casey Gray, to outslug the Green Hornets, 48-35.
Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich
Bellwood-Antis’ Tanner Snyder brings down JV’s Caleb Taylor.
"Our line made pretty big holes," Snyder said, "and they were nice to run through. It makes us feel good that we have more than one threat in the backfield."
"They were very good," JV coach Mike Smith said of B-A. "They weren't doing anything fancy. Our guys were not playing disciplined defense. They were trapping us, and sometimes they didn't even need to trap us because we were going upfield too far."
Gray is the most heralded of the Blue Devils (3-1) because he tied for the area lead in rushing yards last season. But Snyder, who had nine runs of 9 yards or longer, gave future foes something to worry about with his performance Friday night.
"In our offense, the tailback is going to get the majority of the carries," Hayes said. "Tonight, we had some things with the fullback, and Tanner is a real great competitor. He gives you everything he has every time he touches the ball."
Down 28-7 at halftime, the Hornets (2-2) roared back with four second-half touchdowns. Left-handed quarterback Caleb Taylor completed 10-of-20 passes for 216 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He threw for 181 yards in the second half.
Senior fullback Jesse Claar caught four of those passes for 131 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for three touchdowns and gained 99 yards on 22 carries as the Hornets amassed 371 yards of total offense.
"Defensively, we played well most of the time," Hayes said, "but, unfortunately, we gave up some big plays that let their drives go. [JV] is a good football team. They give us trouble every year, and you never have enough points."
Interestingly enough, B-A sophomore quarterback Jake Burch's only credited pass was the scoring one to Gray. He did pass on B-A's second play of the game, but he was flagged for intentional grounding, and the play went down as a penalty and a run.
The Devils didn't score on that first series, but they did on four of their next five in the first half. Gray scored the first one on a 1-yard with 1:30 left in the first quarter. Time was kept by the officials on the field because the scoreboard clock malfunctioned.
B-A then recovered its own onsides kick, and seven plays later, Gray scampered in from the 17. Gray's interception was followed by a B-A fumble, but his 30-yard punt return later gave the Devils the ball at the JV 20. Snyder bolted 19 yards to the 1, and Jake Stapleton scored on the next play.
Up 21-0, Snyder scored on a 20-yard run with 2:30 left. Taylor got JV on the scoreboard with a 15-yard scoring strike to Sam Gildea with 20 seconds left in the half, making the score 28-7.
The teams took turns scoring in the third. Gray's 4-yard TD run was followed by Claar's 1-yard score on fourth-and-goal. B-A recovered JV's onsides kick, and Snyder bolted 35 yards for a score.
Taylor would have had another TD pass but his 60-yard connection with Claar was stopped at the 1, when Claar was legally tripped. Claar scored on the next play.
"Caleb had some very nice passes," Smith said, "and our line gave him a lot of time to throw the ball.
Burch hit Gray on the TD pass on the first play of the fourth quarter. Claar's 8-yard TD run and his 20-yard scoring catch from Taylor with 32 seconds left finally ended the offensive outburst.
"I knew their kids weren't going to quit," Hayes said. "We see Coach Smith and his staff a lot in the summer, and there's no quit in them."
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bellwood-Antis7 21 14 6 - 48
Juniata Valley0 7 14 14 - 35
BA-Gray 1 run (Creppage kick), 1:30.
BA-Gray 17 run (Creppage kick), 10:01.
BA-Stapleton 1 run (Creppage kick), 5:43.
BA-Snyder 20 run (Creppage kick), 2:30.
JV-Gildea 15 pass from Taylor (Taylor kick), :20.
BA-Gray 4 run (Creppage kick), 9:24.
JV-Claar 1 run (Taylor kick), 4:06.
BA-Snyder 35 run (Creppage kick), 3:21.
JV-Claar 1 run (Taylor kick), 1:58.
BA-Gray 34 pass from Burch (kick failed), 11:51.
JV-Claar 8 run (Taylor kick), 8:24.
JV-Claar 20 pass from Taylor (Taylor kick), :32.
RUSHING: Bellwood-Antis-Snyder 15-187, Gray 21-169, Stapleton 8-49, McMillan 2-7, Wood 2-1, TEAM 2-(-2), Burch 2-(-11). Juniata Valley-Claar 22-99, Singer 1-25, Maysonet 5-16, Taylor 7-9, Wagner 3-6.
PASSING: Bellwood-Antis-Burch 1-1-0-34. Juniata Valley-Taylor 10-20-1-216.
RECEIVING: Bellwood-Antis-Gray 1-34. Juniata Valley-Claar 4-131, Gable 3-65, Gildea 1-15, Maysonet 2-5.
INTERCEPTIONS: Bellwood-Antis-Gray. Juniata Valley-none.