B-A does enough to advance
BELLWOOD — Bellwood-Antis High School senior tight end-linebacker T.J. Wyland didn’t make every big play Saturday night, it just seemed like it.
Wyland caught a touchdown pass for Bellwood’s first score. He later made a tackle at the goal line to prevent a West Shamokin two-point conversion. And, with time winding down, he intercepted a pass that sealed the verdict in the Blue Devils’ 14-6 win.
The victory at Bellwood’s Memorial Stadium was the Blue Devils’ 10th straight and advanced them to the semifinals of the District 6 Class 2A football playoffs. The Devils, seeded third, tentatively are scheduled to play at No. 2 seed Ligonier Valley next Saturday.
“It feels great,” Wyland said, “because the last two years we lost in the first round (of the playoffs). This year, we capitalized. It was a great moment for all of us.”
It was great for first year coach Nick Lovrich, too.
“It feels good,” Lovrich said, smiling. “It’s always good to get that first one. Even though it’s the playoffs, we treated this week like every other one. We focused on trying to be a better team than we were last week.”
West Shamokin took the opening kickoff and chewed up plenty of yardage before Brendan Mondi fumbled and B-A’s Evan Pellegrine recovered at the Blue Devils’ 13.
“It could have been different,” West Shamokin coach Jon McCullough said. “We had some opportunities early … but we’ve got to find a way (to score). Unfortunately, we didn’t.”
“They moved the ball against us at the beginning and we needed to catch up to the game speed,” Lovrich said.
“We felt like we started getting some momentum late in the second quarter,” Lovrich said. “We thought it was turning our way.”
The Blue Devils broke the scoreless deadlock in the third quarter. Zach Mallon returned a punt 26 yards to the WS 33. After Alex Frederick broke off a 9-yard run, Wyland caught a pass from Shawn Wolfe at the 8 and battled his way into the end zone. Alex Schmoke’s PAT gave the hosts a 7-0 lead.
“It’s just part of what we do,” Wyland said. “We all did it together. Nice blocks, nice snap, good throw and I just caught it.”
“T.J. has worked so hard all of his career,” Lovrich said. “He’s always in the weight room and, when you see a kid that puts that much time and effort into it to succeed, especially at the end of the year … that was a big catch.
“Defensively, he made some nice stops for us,” Lovrich noted. “I’m really proud of what he did tonight.”
Wolfe’s 20-yard keeper set up Bellwood’s second score, which came on a 20-yard reverse by receiver Zach Mallon, who took a handoff from Alex Frederick and dashed around the right side for an 18-yard TD. Schmoke, who missed only two of 49 PAT attempts, added the 14th point.
West Shamokin didn’t quit, though. The Wolves took the ensuing kickoff and marched all the way with Mondi, who had 144 yards, scoring from the 1 with 3:18 to play. The Wolves went for a two-point conversion, but Wyland and Co. stood up Mondi at the goal.
“I was playing outside linebacker,” Wyland offered. “I didn’t want him to go in so I was just pulling him back as much as I could.”
Another Bellwood fumble gave West Shamokin life at the visitors’ 41 with 2:30 remaining. However, Wyland did it again, intercepting a fourth-down pass at the Wolves’ 40 with 1:35 to go, ending the Wolves’ hopes and sealing the B-A win.
“It just happened,” Wyland downplayed. “I was getting blocked and it just ended up in my hands.”
SCORE BY QUARTERS
West Shamokin 0 0 0 6 — 6
Bellwood-Antis 0 0 7 7 — 14
BA–Wyland 24 pass from Wolfe (Schmoke kick), 7:42.
BA–Z. Mallon 18 run (Schmoke kick), 5:25.
WS–Mondi 1 run (run failed), 3:18.
TEAM STATISTICS WS BA
First downs 11 12
Total yards 223 177
Rushes-yards 45-151 36-97
Yards passing 72 80
Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 6-14-2 6-9-0
Punts-avg. 3-26 4-40
Fumbles-lost 1-1 3-3
Penalties-yards 9-67 2-10
RUSHING–West Shamokin, Mondi. 26-144, Goldstrohm 2-17, Haswell 9-1, Fairman 1-0, Lightcap 7-(-9). Bellwood-Antis, Wolfe 14-30, Mallon 3-22, Frederick 9-18, Boyer 4-15, Walker 4-14, Plank 1-(-1), TEAM 1(-1).
PASSING–West Shamokin, Lightcap 6-14-2-72. Bellwood-Antis, Wolfe 6-9-0-80.
RECEIVING–West Shamokin, Haswell 3-36, Fairman 1-34, Mondi 1-2, Goldstrohm 1-0. Bellwood-Antis, Wyland 2-30, Hale 2-28, Walker 2-24.