The jubilant Penns Valley football team posed in a semicircle for a picture beneath the South goalpost to celebrate its 28-6 victory over Bald Eagle Area in the Iron Bell game on Friday night. Dead center in the photo was linebacker Colton Treaster.
That was appropriate because Treaster was the centerpiece in the victory for Penns Valley as he returned two fumbles for touchdowns and recovered a third as the Rams took advantage of just about every mistake the Eagles made.
Treaster recovered a Jason Jones fumble that was caused by Luke Bitsko and took it 16 yards for a score in the second quarter, and in the third he grabbled a bobbled pitchout and raced 70 yards to put the Rams on top 22-6 with 10:01 left for what proved the be the knockout punch in this rivalry rumble.
“I never scored a touchdown in my life, let alone two defensive touchdowns,” Treaster said. “This feels great. I’ve been looking forward to this game since last year. This is the first time this year that we have played together as a team.
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“On the first fumble Luke (Bitsko) came off the edge and hit Jason (Jones) and knocked the ball loose. It was right there and I just scooped it up and scored.
“On the second one it was a pitchout and he (Jones) practically handed it to me. I just took off but I thought I was going to get tackled because I was cramping up so bad.”
And while this was a game Treaster will always remember, it was one BEA would like to forget as the Eagles had two kicks blocked, lost three fumbles and were penalized 15 times for 91 yards, at least half of those penalties for encroachment.
“Penalties killed us,” Eagle coach Ron Hoover said. “We didn’t have that many penalties in our first two games. And there was no reason for them. We told the kids that those penalties changed the field position, stopped drives and led to bad things. All of those penalties, a blocked punt and three lost fumbles will kill you against a good team. But even as poorly as we played, we were still in the game in the second half.”
On its first two possessions, BEA drove to the Penns Valley 4- and 20-yard lines before the Rams threw up a stone wall in front of the end zone, turning the Eagles away without a point.
“We got down there on our first two drives and we should have scored,” Hoover said. “We should have been up by two touchdowns. But we get into a third-and-one situation and we jump offsides. Early on we played well. We moved the ball.”
But midway through the second quarter with the ball on the BEA 46, Bitsko broke through and blocked a Jones punt that gave the Rams the ball on the BEA 25. Three plays later Ben Alexander went around the left side for the score and then ran for the two-point conversion to put the Rams up 8-0 with 5:26 left in the half.
On BEA’s first snap following the score, Treaster scored on the Jones fumble and while the run for the PAT failed, the Rams were looking at a 14-0 cushion.
BEA got on the board before the half, driving 49 yards following a long Mitch Struble kickoff return with Hunter Hockenberry going in from the 3. The Rams broke through to block the PAT, leaving the score at 14-6 with 1:21 left in the half.
“Even though they scored, our kids had that blocked extra point to hang their hat on in the locker room at halftime,” said Rams’ coach Marty Tobias. “This was just a huge win for the kids, for their confidence. We talked all week about focusing on the things we do well and being more consistent.
“We did catch some breaks and we got some key stops when they were driving early in the game. Coming into the game we didn’t expect to get two defensive scores but we had a real good week of practice and we got a more consistent effort.”
After a scoreless third quarter BEA mounted a threat early in the fourth when a 34-yard pass from Jones to Shane Kunes put the ball on the Penns Valley 30. But on the next play Treaster grabbed the errant pitchout from Jones to Struble and bolted 70 yards down the sideline in front of the Ram bench for the score. Alexander ran for the PAT with 10:01 to go.
“They had the momentum going for them there,” Tobias said. “They could have gone in and cut the lead. We never really felt the lead was safe.”
Penns Valley got its final score on a 23-yard pass from Alexander to Bitsko with 4:35 to go. The run for the two-point conversion failed.
It was one of seven completions in 17 attempts by Alexander, who was victimized by several dropped passes.
“We worked all week on throwing the ball. We forgot to work on catching it,” Tobias laughed.
The Rams go on the road again next week when they visit Central. BEA will entertain Chestnut Ridge.