EVERETT - Bellwood-Antis senior all-state running back Casey Gray believes that he reaches down for some extra intangible when he finds himself with the football in the open field.
"I feel like I go into an extra gear sometime,'' he said.
Gray operated in full-throttle mode Friday night for the Blue Devils, scampering for 159 yards on 15 carries and three touchdowns. He broke off two pivotal long runs, including a 68-yard touchdown burst in the third quarter, as the Blue Devils logged a 42-21 Inter-County Conference Gold Division victory over Everett on the Everett Warriors Stadium.
"He's a big weapon and he makes some big plays,'' Bellwood-Antis coach John Hayes said of Gray, who scored on runs of 10 and 2 yards in the first quarter to stake Bellwood to an early 14-0 advantage. "He's blessed with a lot of athletic skill, and he's a tremendous competitor who rises to the occasion.''
Gray did that twice prominently Friday night, racing 44 yards off the left side in the second quarter to set up senior halfback Tanner Snyder's 3-yard touchdown run with 7:06 remaining that staked Bellwood to a 21-7 halftime lead.
Bellwood's touchdown drive came immediately after Everett had scored on quarterback Trevon Ward's 8-yard run that had cut Bellwood's lead in half at 14-7.
After Everett pulled to within 21-13 early in the third quarter on a 12-yard touchdown run by Kyle Sheaffer following a Jared Donelson fumble recovery, Gray worked his magic again, weaving through the middle of the field untouched for his 68-yard touchdown run to put Bellwood up, 28-13 with 2:18 left in the third quarter.
"Our line did a great job of blocking their line tonight,'' said Gray, who helped the Blue Devils improve to 5-1 overall and 3-0 in the division. "They have some really big guys, we practiced all week to move their size, and our line did a great job of doing it tonight.''
Just 18 seconds after Gray's 68-yard touchdown run, the Blue Devils came up with a big play on defense when linebacker Jake Stapleton scooped up a fumble at the Everett 30 and returned it for a touchdown to put Bellwood comfortably ahead, 35-13 after three quarters.
"You can't get behind by two touchdowns against Bellwood-Antis,'' said Everett coach Mark Kirk, whose team dropped to 3-3 overall. "Our kids played hard, but we had three turnovers tonight, and that's what killed our momentum.''
The teams traded touchdowns in the fourth quarter, when Bellwood was able to get its reserves some playing experience.
Junior tailback Matt McMillan scored on a 4-yard run up the middle with 5:44 left for Bellwood, which rolled up 280 of its 309 total yards on the ground.
Everett managed a consolation touchdown with 3:38 remaining when Sheaffer hauled in Ward's 44-yard touchdown toss.
"Our overall effort was real good tonight,'' Hayes said. "I was real pleased with what we were able to do.''
Bellwood hosts Southern Huntingdon next Friday night, while Everett hosts Mount Union.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bellwood-Antis14 7 14 7-42
Everett 0 7 6 8-21
BA-Gray 10 run (Creppage kick), 5:44.
BA-Gray 2 run (Creppage kick), 2:43.
E-Ward 8 run (Steed kick), 8:32.
BA-Snyder 3 run (Creppage kick), 2:43
E-Sheaffer 12 run (kick failed), 8:32
BA-Gray 68 run (Creppage kick), 2:18
BA-Stapleton 30 fumble return (Creppage kick), 2:00.
BA-McMillan 4 run (Snyder kick), 5:44
E-Sheaffer 44 pass from Ward (Ward run), 3:38.
RUSHING: Bellwood-Antis: Gray 15-159, Snyder 10-48, Stapleton 5-29, McMillan 4-27, Wood 4-25, McCaulley 1-21, Burr 2-0, Burch 4-(-19). Everett: Jay 11-42, Sheaffer 5-37, Woy 3-27, Ward 13-13, Karns 4-7, TEAM 1-(-5).
PASSING: Bellwood-Antis-Burch 6-7-0-29. Everett-Ward 8-16-1-99, Sheaffer 1-1-0-35.
RECEIVING: Bellwood-Antis-T. Snyder 2-12, Taylor 1-9, Stapleton 1-8, Lombardo 1-0. Everett-Sheaffer 3-49, Cogan 2-52, Jay 3-24, Donelson 1-9.