SPRING MILLS — Penns Valley caught Bald Eagle Area off guard from the opening kickoff. A little bit of trickery right off the bat by the Rams allowed them to start with the ball, courtesy of a successful onsides kick.
It didn’t stop with just one either. Their first three kickoff attempts were either a squib or onsides kicks and the Rams managed to recover two of the three.
That allowed them to keep possession and build a 12-point first quarter lead, but it was all Bald Eagle Area after that as the Eagles held the Rams scoreless for the rest of the game en route to the 47-19 romp and a perfect 3-0 mark to start their season.
After recovering an onside kick on the opening kickoff, the Rams drove 42 yards down field and capped it off with a one-yard quarterback sneak by quarterback Cameron Tobias.
The Eagles would answer right back though with a 35-yard scamper by tailback Dakota Bartley and Tyler Schall’s successful PAT gave the Eagles a 7-6 lead.
Two-straight scores by the Rams ( a pair of 1-run yard runs by Taylor Collison and Corey Hazel) )in a 61-second span gave the home squad a 19-7 lead and it looked as though the fast-paced offense was going to run the Eagles right off the field.
Then something changed — a big something. Eagles’ head coach Jack Tobias talked to his defense on the sidelines and his pep talk paid off immediately.
Trailing 19-13 on their next defensive series, the Eagles forced a Rams’ fumble at their own 24-yard line and were able to cash in on an eight-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jason Jones and take a 20-19 lead at halftime.
“I just said to the guys ‘You can’t panic’ and that’s the big thing,” Jack Tobais said. “When we’re in a situation where something went bad because one thing went bad, you still got 40 minutes of football left and you can’t hit the panic button, you got to settle in, you waiver the storm. Penns Valley is always tough at home and coach (Martin) Tobias always has the kids fired up when we come down here and to start off they came out and they were spot on.
“Our kids I think started to doubt a little bit and some heads dropped and I said ‘Gentlemen I don’t care where we’re at, you cannot drop your head if you’re down by 12 points because we have the ability to come back and score points when we need to.’ They worked through that and they were able to respond and they played well after the game then after that.”
Four touchdown runs — two by Bartley — allowed the Eagles to pull away in the second half, but it wasn’t only their offense that was clicking. It was also the tenacious Eagles’ defense, which held the Rams to 22 total yards of offense in the second half.
Bartley finished the night with 20 carries for 152 yards and three touchdown runs. The Rams put up 181 yards of offense and Bartley almost single-handedly out produced them.
Jones, the Eagles’ gunslinger, went 9-for-10 for 102 yards through the air. He also had his team’s first score of the night and helped out with field position by booting two punts and pinning the Rams deep in their own territory.
While his squad jumped out to an early double-digit lead, Martin Tobias knows that inconsistent play hurt his team which fell to 1-2 on the season.
“I don’t think we were consistent enough,” Martin Tobias said. “I don’t know about the momentum necessarily, but we didn’t do things well and we weren’t consistently doing things well and they did. It was one of those things deals where they showed us on the field that they were a really good football team and we knew that coming in, they’re big, they’re physical and they’re fast.”