Lack of preparation.
Those were the words that Bellefonte coach Shanon Manning kept using after his Red Raiders suffered a 52-31 loss to Huntingdon on Friday night inside Rogers Stadium.
Manning took responsibility for the loss after his special teams played a critical role in the Red Raiders’ defeat.
“I’m the special teams coach, so that’s on me,” he said. “A lot of those things that happened, that was on me. It was a lack of preparation on my part. I can’t put that on other people. That is 100 percent, and that’s squarely, on my shoulders.”
Trailing 17-7 midway through the second quarter, the Red Raiders — who were without starting quarterback Nicholas Paloskey due to injury — took just 54 seconds to get within three.
Wide receiver-turned-backup quarterback Dylan Dietrich connected with Cade Fortney on a receiver screen at the near sideline. Fortney cut back toward the middle of the field and picked up a big time block from Julian Emel that sent Fortney loose toward the endzone.
But, on the ensuing kickoff, the Bearcats’ Jacob Wagner collected the ball at his own 20 and went 80 yards untouched to put Huntingdon back up by 10 in under 10 seconds.
Bellefonte kept fighting.
It tied up the game again in the third quarter at 24-24. But, in a back-and-forth affair, Huntingdon responded with a 3-minute, 34-second drive that culminated with Ian Border rumbling for a one-yard touchdown to put Huntingdon ahead again. After the Red Raiders’ next drive stalled, that’s when special teams struck yet again.
Huntingdon’s Jonathan Price took a Bellefonte punt to the house on a 40-yard return, as the Bearcats seized a 37-24 lead and essentially put the game on ice.
“I’ll be honest, I never felt we were solid in the game,” Manning said. “Even when the game was tied or close, it just kind of felt we were chasing our tail all night long. I’m not taking anything away from Huntingdon. They have some fantastic players. I don’t want to diminish what they accomplished out of it. There were some things that we did not do that we’ve done well in the past. As the head coach, that’s my responsibility and I’ll take all of it.”
Even though the game didn’t go as planned for Manning and his team, he still felt there were some bright spots. For instance, he highlighted CJ Funk’s 22-yard fumble recovery that he scooped up for a touchdown. Also, Bellefonte’s head coach pointed out Dietrich’s final stats. He finished the game with 124 yards rushing on 13 carries with two touchdowns. He was also 10 of 16 through the air for 133 yards and that passing TD to Fortney.
“He was a receiver as of Wednesday at 3 o’clock,” Manning said of Dietrich. “Dylan is a good athlete. We knew with him he is a competitor because he was on that state championship team in baseball as a 10th-grader. We knew he was tested. He did a great job.
“There were some bright spots. I thought offensively, there were some things that went well. We just got a lot of housekeeping to do. I’ll be honest, there is a lot of loose ends that need cleaned up that I wouldn’t think would need cleaned up going into Week 3 of a season. But, once again, that’s on me. When there is a lack of preparation, that’s on the head coach. I’ll continue to take responsibility for that, and I’ll make sure that it’s corrected.”