BELLWOOD - On the first play of Friday night's matchup between Bellwood-Antis and Southern Huntingdon, Rockets fullback Cam Woodward took a handoff, swept right, then pulled up and lofted the ball downfield.
Unfortunately for the visitors, the ball was intercepted by Blue Devils star Casey Gray, who returned it to Southern Huntingdon's 25-yard line to set up a short touchdown run by B-A backfield mate Tanner Snyder.
On the Rockets' next possession, they had some success on the ground. But then quarterback Tyler Carowick dropped back to pass - and the ball was again picked off by Gray, who this time returned it 55 yards to the Southern Huntingdon 2-yard line. Once again, Snyder punched it in, giving the Blue Devils a 13-0 lead just over seven minutes into the game.
While the B-A defense eventually loosened up a bit, its offense never slowed down, as the Blue Devils cruised to a 44-7 Inter-County Conference, Gold Division victory, and improved their record to 6-1 (4-0 ICC Gold).
"We made some big plays tonight," B-A coach John Hayes said. "We didn't do as good of a job as we would've liked sustaining drives, but fortunately we had some guys who made some good long plays and carried us to a good score."
The Blue Devils finished the night with just under 300 yards rushing, led by Gray's 135 yards on nine carries - highlighted by an 88-yard TD scamper in the second quarter - and Snyder's 87 yards and three scores.
"They're a good tandem," Hayes said. "They complement each other and they block for each other. We try to keep them [both] involved so people have to guess a bit about what's going to happen."
Southern Huntingdon fell to 1-6 (1-3 ICC Gold) with the loss, but coach Ryan Garlock said his team can be proud of how his team moved the ball on the night. The Rockets finished the game with 231 yards on 52 carries, most coming from junior running backs Storm Vaughn (117 yards) and Mason Parks (85 yards).
"We had some success running right at them, which kind of surprised me," Garlock said. "I hope that's something that we can build off of and have at least some kind of a positive out of this. To be able to move the ball right up the middle on them, that's pretty pleasing."
Unfortunately for the Rockets, their rushing success was offset by the team's five turnovers - three fumbles to go along with Gray's two picks.
"We turned the ball over," Garlock said. "Same story. I just told them that I don't care if they're playing the Pittsburgh Steelers or a powderpuff team, you just can't be competitive turning the ball over that many times. And that's pretty much the story of the night."
The turnovers also made a big difference to B-A, which was caught by surprise by Southern Huntingdon's rushing success.
"It definitely was big," Hayes said. "We had a couple of situations where we really had a short field and [they had] good field position and [the turnovers] make it easier for us and certainly more difficult for them."
Southern Huntingdon plays at home against Everett next week, while the Blue Devils play their final home game of the regular season when they host Northern Bedford.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
So. Huntingdon0 7 0 0 - 7
Bellwood-Antis19 13 12 0 - 44
BA-T. Snyder 2 run (kick failed), 9:54.
BA-T. Snyder 2 run (T. Snyder kick), 4:36.
BA-Gray 11 run (kick failed), :01.
SH-Neil 9 pass from T. Carowick (Cornelius kick), 6:03.
BA-T. Snyder 37 run (Gray kick), 5:53.
BA-Gray 88 run (kick failed), 1:31.
BA-Stapleton 1 run (kick failed), 9:56.
BA-Wood 14 run (kick failed), 4:16.
RUSHING: Southern Huntingdon-T. Carowick 11-(-1), Vaughn 20-117, Parks 14-85, Woodward 5-39, N. Carowick 1-(-1), McClain 1-(-8). Bellwood-Antis-Gray 9-135, Burch 1-(-9), T. Snyder, Stapleton 2-6, Wood 3-37, McMillan 5-29, Burr 2-9.
PASSING: Southern Huntingdon-T. Carowick 2-4-1-17, Woodward 0-1-1-0. Bellwood-Antis-Burch 3-3-0-46.
RECEIVING: Southern Huntingdon-Neil 1-9, Whitsel 1-8. Bellwood-Antis-Gray 1-7, Stapleton 2-39.
INTERCEPTIONS: Southern Huntingdon-none. Bellwood-Antis-Gray, 2.