Dexter Gallishaw stood behind the Red Raiders offensive coordinator on the Bellefonte sideline before head coach Shanon Manning decided what he wanted to do.
“Put Dexter in,” Manning recalled saying to his coordinator. “Let him finish this. Put No. 21 in to finish this.”
That’s exactly what the Red Raider running back did. Gallishaw stood with quarterback Dylan Deitrich in the pistol, secured his second-down handoff and bulled forward — diving head-first, one yard for the end zone.
He made it, and Bellefonte won a classic.
Thanks to Gallishaw’s final push and the play of Deitrich, Cade Fortney and several others, the Red Raiders edged Central Mountain 34-31 in four overtimes on Friday night at Roger Stadium.
When asked what he saw after a crease barely opened at the goal line, Gallishaw paused for a few seconds. Looking around the chaotic scene on the field, he was speechless.
“I don’t know,” Gallishaw said. “I don’t know what to say about it. I just pounded it in. We got what we got.”
What Bellefonte (3-1) got was a gutty victory, one that Central Mountain (0-4) seemingly had in the bag on a couple occasions.
Tied 14-14 going into overtime, the Red Raiders couldn’t have started any better. Bruising back Stephen Kutches ran 10 yards right up the gut on the first play of the free period, barreling into the end zone.
The Bellefonte crowd rose to its feet, believing that’d be enough. Far from it. Central Mountain quarterback Austyn Carson — who accounted for 253 total yards — found Asher Corl for a four-yard score on fourth down to tie it at 21-21. Carson made it 28-21 a few plays into the second overtime period with a two-yard power run.
The Red Raiders responded swiftly as Deitrich — “a competitive, tough kid,” per Manning — took a naked bootleg around the right side of Central Mountain’s defense and dove for the pylon for a 10-yard score.
The red scoreboard read 28-28 as Manning and his staff tried to collect their thoughts.
“It got down to play by play,” Bellefonte’s head coach said. “Every play ended up being its own game. Every piece. Every formation. It was a game within a game. Every snap was a game.”
Unfortunately for the Red Raiders, the third overtime period was empty. Kutches fumbled on third down, the Wildcats recovered, and the Bellefonte sideline was silenced.
With overtime possessions starting at the 10-yard line, it was almost a sure thing that Central Mountain would score the game-winner — whether it was a touchdown or field goal — during its possession.
After a couple stuffed runs, Carson lined up for a 24-yard field goal on third down. Just to be safe. When his kick went up, Corl — Carson’s holder — threw his hands up in celebration. It looked as if the kick sneaked through.
Fortney wasn’t watching.
“I was looking at the refs underneath the post,” the senior said. Unlike Corl, the officials didn’t put their hands up. Carson’s kick was pushed wide right.
Heading into the fourth overtime period, Bellefonte and Central Mountain were still tied 28-28.
The Wildcats had the ball first and despite being pushed away from the end zone still came away with points. Carson drilled a 31-yard attempt to put his side up by three.
Bellefonte needed a field goal to continue overtime — or a touchdown to win. The Red Raiders were eyeing the latter.
On Bellefonte’s first snap of the period, Deitrich handed it off to Fortney, who came in motion on a jet sweep. The wideout cut upfield and dragged a couple defenders with him on an eight-yard gain. It was his eighth and final carry of the game. He had 113 rushing yards — all on jet sweeps — including a 70-yard score in the first quarter.
The next play, of course, was Gallishaw’s plunge.
“We tried to rest him through the third quarter,” Manning said of the tailback, who tallied 33 yards on 12 attempts. “We tried to keep his carries down. He played every rep defensively. Every single rep.”
But Gallishaw had enough in him for a touchdown that’ll go down in Bellefonte lore.
Each touchdown scored in overtime elicited wild cheers from the sidelines and supporting sections. Every time the Red Raiders or Wildcats scored, the respective fans thought it was enough to capture momentum and capture a seemingly elusive win.
Of course, one score left Bellefonte in jubilation and Central Mountain in heartbreak.
One score sent the Red Raiders into an uncontrollable frenzy, running onto the worn Rogers Stadium grass in pandemonium.
One score ended a classic.
It was Gallishaw’s touchdown — a moment that he and his teammates will never forget.
“This is how character is built,” Manning said, taking in the scene. “This will define us.”