Bellefonte had no counter for Phipsburg-Oscola’s counter play and the Mounties used it to dominate the Red Raiders 52-14 in the annual Luther Trophy game on a chilly Friday night.
The Mounties got 150 yards from halfback Dustin Shuey and another 44 from Aaron Mason as they rolled up 466 yards in total offense to break a 13-game losing streak.
“Overall, our backfield accomplished what we wanted," said Mountie coach Jeff Vroman. “We were able to get outside with our perimeter game. We got some things cleaned up. They came out with nine guys in the box and we decided if they did that we were going to take some shots. It was one of those things where if they did this we’d do that. We wanted to jump out early. We really needed to do that."
“We had problems stopping the counter," observed Raider coach Shannon Manning. “We weren’t able to do what we needed to do. In the first half we able to contain it but not in the second half when our confidence got shaken.
“But we’re right on the hump, just on the verge of getting over it and then something bad happens. That’s been our season. But great teams overcome that. ‘’
The Mounties took the opening kickoff and in three plays they were on the scoreboard as Shuey got loose for 37 yards on a sweep on the first play of the game. Then Curtis Matsko hooked up with Aaron Mason for 10 yards and then found Tanner Lamb open down the middle from 28 yards out for the score at the 11:09 mark. Nick Boumerhi booted the extra point, his first of seven on the night.
The Raiders were able to mount a drive on their first possession, reaching the P-O 44 before punting the ball away. But P-O, putting the ball in play on its own 14, had a high snap from center that Matsko covered in the end zone, giving up a safety rather than a touchdown.
“We haven’t had a problem with our snaps in the first two games," said Vroman. “I hope that’s the end of that. At the time that safety was a concern. All of a sudden it’s 7-2, we’re kicking off to them and they have a decent return game. If they get a big return and then score a quick touchdown we’re in a dogfight."
But even though the Raiders got a 37-yard return of the free kick from Doylan Deitrich to put the ball on the P-O 34, the Mountie defense threw up a stop sign, allowing only four yards in four plays, taking over on their own 30.
In the second quarter, a pair of P-O touchdowns began giving it some breathing room as Mason went 22 yards for a score and following an interception by Shuey at the Bellefonte 25 he accounted for all of the yards in two carries, scoring from the 17 with 8:38 left in the half to make it 21-2.
Bellefonte was able to narrow the lead late in the quarter when Deitrich went 44 yards around the right side to make it 21-8 but the kick failed with 1:03 on the clock.
However, that was enough time for P-O to get one more score as it drove to the Bellefonte 20 and from there Boumerhi booted a 37-yard field goal with no time left on the clock.
A Raider fumble on the P-O 13 — they lost three fumbles on the night — stopped a promising drive to start the second half and the Mounties drove the distance in six plays thanks to a 40-yard pass from Matsko to Shuey that put the ball on the Raider 37. Four plays later Shuey got his second TD of the night, a 15-yarder, with 5:33 to go in the quarter, making it 31-8.
Again the Raiders rallied for a score as they drove 80 yards in nine plays with Storm Smith scoring from the 4. The try for the two-point conversion failed.
But P-O scored on its next three possessions to blow open the game as Mason Pryde scored from the 10, Shuey broke a 25-yard run for a score and backup quarterback Jake Anderson scored from the nine, pulling out of the grasp of a tackler in the backfield and circling the left side with 4:58 to go.
A total of 10 Mounties got their hands on the ball, a fact that pleased Vroman.
“We were able to spread the ball around to our receivers," he said. .”We were able to get some guys game experience. We had a lot of guys touch the football tonight."
But best off all, he said, was they were able to share in a win.
“The biggest thing we’ll take out of this game is the experience of winning," he said. “They needed that. It’s been so long, even for myself. We have to learn how to win and the only way to do that is to win."
Manning understood what Vroman was saying.
“It was a big win for them," he said. “I understand that. I just wish it was us."