HUNTINGDON — The lightning that postponed their game Friday night gave Bellefonte and Huntingdon football players two days to think about one another and how each side could better fine tune their schemes for Monday’s second half.
After a wide open first two quarters produced a 21-7 Bellefonte lead Friday, both squads tightened up on defense, but it was the Red Raiders who finally shut the door in a second half marked by offensive inconsistency and vicious hitting on both sides.
Nunu Buey, who racked up 162 rushing yards on just four carries Friday, notched just two positive yardage runs Monday afternoon — but his nine-yard touchdown scamper at War Vet’s Field was enough to preserve Bellefonte’s 29-14 win.
“We were able to come over here tonight, take the long layoff, do some things, make sure we were sound,” Bellefonte coach Duffy Besch said. “It was obvious having 48 hours between halves showed a little bit in the third quarter, but we were able to fight through that and for that I’m proud of them. I think they did an excellent job.”
Both squads were challenged offensively to begin the second half.
Bellefonte fumbled an option pitch on the first play and ended up punting after going backward. Huntingdon fumbled on its first play as well. The Raiders recovered but lost 12 yards on four plays. The drive ended when Huntingdon’s Kurtis Davidson drove Bellefonte quarterback Phil Fenstermacker into the grass for a drive-ending sack.
“Historically, no matter what team you look at, Huntingdon teams are physical,” Besch said. “They’re big, they’re physical. They want to move you. They want to jam you. At the end of the day it’s a great thing because it’s good, hard-nosed central Pennsylvania football. It’s been their tradition, it’s been part of what they do.”
The Raiders did a little bit of pounding, too.
Bellefonte’s Chandler Ross avenged Fenstermacker’s sack three plays later when he walloped Huntingdon quarterback Josh Foster for a sack that killed the Bearcats’ drive.
After the third quarter, the two teams had combined for 10 plays that went for negative yardage, each offense yielding to the opposing defense.
“I’ve never been a part of something like that and I just wasn’t used to it,” Bellefonte junior Doylan Deitrich said. “I feel like we should be playing another two quarters right now. It was nice having that time to recharge and rest your body and ice, it was nice.”
Huntingdon recharged in the fourth quarter.
After Buey and Ross combined to hammer Huntingdon’s Marcus Yoder, forcing the Bearcat running back to lose his team’s second fumble of the half, the Bellefonte offense failed to take advantage. Instead, the Bearcat defense made another big play when Kobren Frederick intercepted a Fenstermacker pass and returned it deep into Bellefonte territory.
A quarterback changed sparked the Huntingdon offense as freshman Hudson Speck replaced Foster. Speck’s elusiveness was evident immediately. The freshman handed off for a five yard gain then kept the ball and ran up the middle for 21 yards on the next two plays to set his team up with first-and-goal at the Bellefonte one-yard-line.
After a timeout, Speck handed off to Rhett Stetchock who plunged into the end zone to cut Bellefonte’s lead to a touchdown.
Each team would punt before Bellefonte’s Brian White took off for 48 yards on first down to set the Raiders up inside the Huntingdon 10-yard-line. Buey did the rest, taking the handoff from Fenstermacker and juking to his right for the final score. A two-point conversion run by White gave Bellefonte a 29-14 lead.
“We’re very happy we got our first win,” Besch said. “We don’t get a lot of time to enjoy it because Friday night we’ve got another one.”
Huntingdon got plenty of chances to come back, but three low snaps that bounced deep into the backfield spoiled any momentum the Bearcats had.
On one Bearcat drive midway through the fourth quarter, Foster who re-entered the game at quarterback, threw a deep ball over the middle that Deitrich leapt up to intercept. The Bellefonte defensive back couldn’t complete the pick, however, and tipped the ball to Bearcat receiver Dakota Peters who picked up 32 yards to get Huntingdon into Bellefonte territory.
But Huntingdon lost 17 yards on the next play due to a low snapped that bounced back to midfield. On the very next play, Speck rolled out and fired back across the middle where Deitrich leapt again and intercepted the pass with less than two minutes left. With only one timeout left, Huntingdon could only stop the clock once.
“He was rolling left and then all of a sudden I saw him look right and I knew it was coming,” Deitrich said. “I saw a guy coming across the field and figured, well, he’s going to throw it. Sure enough, he did.”
Deitrich spoke for his teammates when he said the Raiders are looking to play deep into the postseason this year.
Last season, the Raiders managed just one win. It came against Huntingdon midway through the season. Now that they’ve already equaled their win total from a season ago, the Raiders believe they can put together a few more.
“We have high hopes for this year,” Deitrich said. “We want to go very far into the postseason and we feel like this season is going to be a lot better than last season.”