The Bald Eagle Area football team was looking to make an on-field statement to its rival from up the hill Friday night at Alumni Stadium.
“We tried to let our play do most of the talking for us,” said senior quarterback Jordan Jones, who connected on three passing touchdowns. “We came on the field and proved it.”
The Eagles’ defense had just as much to say as the offense in a 48-0 victory over Philipsburg-Osceola in their Mountain League opener.
The Eagles (2-0) flew to 397 total yards of offense while containing the Mounties to just 94. The BEA defense also sacked the P-O quarterbacks six times and posted a total of eight tackles for lost yardage.
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“Our linebackers really had the gaps with the blitz,” said senior defensive end Rilee Bechdel, who was in on three of those sacks. “Our ends really came off the ends and squeezed tight. We did a really good job.”
The pressure made life miserable for P-O quarterback Daniel Slogosky, who endured five of those sacks.
“The line was just pushed all over the place,” Mounties coach Mike Mann said. “They were in our backfield. Nobody could hold a block.”
The Mounties entered the game brimming with confidence, dropping West Branch 32-14 in the season opener. But Mann noticed a different team this past week from what he saw in the preseason, and hoped it would serve as a wake-up call.
“This week at practice we were out of focus,” Mann said. “It wasn’t like the week before. It was a completely different atmosphere.”
Mann’s team fumbled the ball twice and threw another interception, and took just seven snaps in BEA territory. The deepest P-O drive came late in the first quarter, following a Slogosky-to-Matt Johnson 40-yard pass play down to the Eagle 20 but, two plays later, Bechdel registered his first sack, running right through Slogosky to force a fumble.
“We know we’re pretty quick defensively,” BEA coach Jesse Nagle said. “The kids settled in and adjusted pretty nice.”
On the offensive side for BEA, it seemed like everyone got in on the fun.
Gage McClenahan did a little bit of everything with 159 all-purpose yards. He had 74 on the ground on 10 carries, including a one-yard burst for the game’s opening touchdown. He also had 34 yards through the air and another 51 on returns.
Jones completed 5 of 7 passes while his brother, sophomore Jaden Jones, was 7 for 7 for 79 yards.
The Eagles took command in the second quarter, first when Jordan Jones hit Derek Henry on a 29-yard scoring strike early in the period. Jones then hit Matthew Reese on a 15-yard wide receiver screen with three minutes left before half, and Andrew Dubbs raced in from 23 yards out 71 seconds later.
“We felt comfortable with just about every decision we made on offense,” Jordan Jones said. “We ran the ball well, we threw the ball well and everything just opened.”
Midway through the third quarter, Jones notched hit final scoring strike, on his final pass of the night, hitting Bechdel for 29 yards. Bechdel broke a couple Mounties tackles for the final yards into the end zone, but before that it was easy for Jones to find his 6-foot-2 target.
“He was wide open,” Jones said with a big grin.
Zach Wible tallied 82 yards and had touchdown runs of three and 39 yards in the fourth quarter to wrap up the decisive win. A Kaden Bittinger interception late in the fourth helped preserve the shutout.
“We just had to figure some things out,” Nagle said. “We saw what they were doing, adjusted and made some plays.”