BELLEFONTE — All season, Jack Tobias and his staff have tried to gameplan, scheme and find ways to get the football in Bryan Greene’s hands.
It’s a simple approach, really, considering first, Tobias had to find a way to get Greene to come out for the football team this season.
“I’m dang glad he came out this year,” Tobias said after his Eagles walloped Bellefonte 41-0 on Friday night. “We’re glad to have him on the team. Just a phenomenal athlete on both sides of the ball. Great work ethic. Super attitude, one of those guys you absolutely love to coach.”
In the second meeting of the two rivals this season, Greene dealt the Red Raiders a crushing blow to put the game away early. After the BEA offense opened the game with a six-play, 67-yard drive that featured runs of 13, 12 and 15 yards from shifty tailback Dakota Bartley, the BEA defense stood firm to force a Red Raider punt. Greene caught the ball just across midfield, raced up the right sideline then cut back to the middle of the field to complete a 58-yard return score nearly untouched.
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The Eagles were en route to clinching their first District 6 Class AA playoff berth since 2008. Then, the Eagles limped into the postseason at 4-6 where they were handily crushed by Tyrone.
There will be no limping into the playoffs this season.
BEA pounded the ball at will against a Bellefonte squad that wouldn’t get out of its own way. The Eagles racked up 338 rushing yards to Bellefonte’s 53.
The Red Raiders turned the ball over twice on interceptions thrown toward well-covered receivers, lost a fumble, had what would’ve been a 40-yard field goal blocked, converted just one of eight third downs and turned the ball over on downs three times after drives stalled or went backward once the Raiders reached the red zone.
Immediately before Greene’s punt return score, the Raiders thought they had pulled even on their first drive of the game. Fye, who completed 18 of 31 throws for 130 yards and two interceptions, threw a perfect deep ball to Nick Leiter who juked a BEA safety and scored from 58 yards out. But Leiter was ticketed for offensive pass interference and Bellefonte wouldn’t get closer to scoring for the rest of the night.
“It is a hard pill to swallow because it is Bellefonte, Bald Eagle,” Bellefonte coach Duffy Besch said. “We just have to keep striving to finish our plays and finish our drives.”
Meanwhile, the Eagles seemed to finish nearly every play with fervor.
BEA started the second quarter with three positive-yardage plays before a delay of game penaltiy followed by a holding call forced them into a third-and-20 situation.
Tobias called Greene’s number and the junior took a reverse for 28 yards to set up a first-and-goal from the Bellefonte one-yard-line. He lunged for the pylon and seemed to tuck the ball just inside but offcials ruled Greene out just short of the goal line.
“I wasn’t in and Coach was like, ‘Greene, we need you in,’” Greene said. “I was going outside and I thought that I could’ve cut it back in but decided not to. I thought (I scored) but it was what the refs say.”
A play later, Bartley, who led all rushers with 167 yards on 19 carries, got the final say with a one-yard score to give the Eagles a 21-0 lead. Greene added a 27-yard touchdown run on an inside counter play early in the third quarter before he and the rest of the BEA starters yielded the field to reserve back Mitchell Struble who scored on runs of four and 18 yards to cap the scoring.
The Raiders were at a disadvantage when playmaker Doylan Deitrich suffered a shoulder injury early in the first half. He did not return to the game. Fye was hit hard after delivering a pass late in the game and did not return, either.
Nunu Buey led Bellefonte with 95 total yards on 23 touches.
“We got the Curtin Bowl and making it to the playoffs is a good step,” Greene said. “Next week, at Ligonier Valley getting the home field (advantage) is basically our next goal.”