James Oliver wasn't that confident heading into a game against a team that had been, to this point of the season, pretty stingy against opposing ballcarriers.
Two hours, six touchdowns and 335 rushing yards later, Oliver was the new single-game rushing leader for Tyrone, which battered Bald Eagle Area 54-6 on Friday night.
Oliver scored on touchdown runs of 91, 21 and 35 yards and capped three other Tyrone drives with short-yardage scores to lead the Golden Eagles to their fourth-straight win.
Oliver's 335 yards on 18 carries broke the previous school single-game rushing record of 314 yards, set by Jesse Jones in 2000.
"It definitely means a lot. I did my research on Jesse and I thought, I want to break one of his records. The feeling that I actually did, is indescribable, Oliver said. "I couldn't have done it without my fullback and I definitely couldn't have done it without my line. They made the holes for me to actually get the yards, so they deserve all the thanks."
So does a Tyrone defense that held BEA (4-2) to just 10 first downs and only one in the second half with the help of the running-clock mercy rule.
"Offensively, I thought at times we looked good," BEA coach Jack Tobias said. "We dropped two touchdown passes there and fumbled on the five yard line. We've got to clean those things up."
After Tyrone opened the game with a 4-play, 58-yard scoring drive, the Eagles' offense was stopped at midfield when a Cole Long pass was intercepted by J Makdad. The Golden Eagles turned Makdad's pick into a quick score four plays into their drive when Oliver made one cut to his left and raced down the sideline 35 yards to give Tyrone a 13-0 lead.
"I just think, defensively we struggled," Tobias said. "He does a nice job of setting his blocks up and he's fast. When he gets on the edge, it's tough to compete with that speed."
The Eagles responded with a 10-play scoring drive that relied heavily on the crafty, cut-and-sizzle running of Dakota Bartley. The small but shifty back finished with 137 rushing yards on 15 carries and set up the Eagles' lone score with a 16-yard run down to the Tyrone 1-yard line. Nate Sharkey plunged in to cut Tyrone's lead to 13-6.
But the Eagles wouldn't get into the end zone after that. Instead, the BEA defense got a stop but the offense stalled on its ensuing possession. Deep inside his own territory, Cole Long rolled out left to avoid heavy pressure on third down. He fired to Bartley, who found an opening in the Tyrone coverage but Bartley couldn't haul in the pass and BEA had to punt.
More drops would plague BEA.
After the Golden Eagles took a 20-6 lead off an Oliver 21-yard touchdown run, BEA marched to midfield where Long fired a bullet to Jordan Kobularcik. The BEA tight end caught the pass in stride and raced between the Tyrone safeties for a first down. But as Kobularcik crossed the 25, Tyrone's safeties converged on him and Erik Wagner delivered a blow that knocked the ball loose. Tyrone recovered the fumble after the ball bounced to the 9-yard line.
On the very next play, Oliver cut to his right, used an outside block from wideout Charles Wilson-Adams to gain the edge, and raced 91 yards to the end zone with Bryan Greene giving chase.
The Eagles punted again, but got the ball back after Greene leaped up and wrestled the ball away from Nathaniel Soellner for an interception at midfield. BEA couldn't cash in despite a 72-yard run from Bartley that set the Eagles' offense up with first-and-goal at the Tyrone four. Instead, BEA turned the ball over on downs and Tyrone was off on an 11-play scoring drive capped by another Oliver run.
BEA's next possession ended when Jacob Belinda sacked Long and the Eagles were forced to punt from midfield.
The Golden Eagles ran into trouble when Wagner forced a throw to his right that Austin Cowher intercepted. The Eagles couldn't get into the end zone despite a perfect first-down pass from Long on first down from the 19-yard-line. Instead, the ball went through Romine's hands at the 10 and into the clutches of Wilson-Adams who returned it from his own end zone to the BEA 32. Wagner needed just one play to find a wide-open Corey Snyder for a 68-yard touchdown pass.
"With young kids, that starts swinging and it swings fast," Tobias said of the momentum his team gave up after the late second-half interception. "They have a real nice team. They're physical and they're fast across the board, up front, linebacker-wise and at all positions. It's hard to match up speed-wise with them."