Of all the plays Bryan Greene was involved in Friday night — and there were several including a 77-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and a 26-yard touchdown reception — none was bigger than the tackle he made with 3:35 left to preserve a 49-47 Bald Eagle Area victory over Huntingdon.
The Bearcats who overcame first-half deficits of 42-14 and 49-28, had clawed their way back with a dominant second-half effort and were bidding to tie the game after Devon Claar’s eight-yard run. Having missed an extra point kick earlier in the half Huntingdon was forced to go for two and the tie following Claar’s score.
They sent Ryan Stechock around the left side where Greene was waiting. He made the stop and sealed the win in a wild game where points were as plentiful as gray hair among the members of the undefeated 1963 team that was honored at halftime.
“I knew they were going to try a sweep or a counter,” Greene said. “I saw him come in motion so I came up, went for his legs and he fell short.”
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BEA recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock to send the Homecoming crown home happy.
“We just couldn’t stop them,” said BEA coach Jack Tobias of the Bearcats. “They got the momentum going in the second half and we couldn’t stop them. And we kept shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties. It’s too hard to win in this league without giving up 80 or 100 yards in penalties on Friday night. We made it more interesting that it needed to be.”
This one was interesting from the opening kickoff, which BEA returned to the Bearcat 45, one of several lengthy returns by both teams. Staying exclusively on the ground the Eagles drove the 55 yards in seven plays with Dakota Bartley scoring from the 1. Bartley finished the night with an even 200 yards on 25 carries. Tyler Schall made it 7-0 with 9:25 still to go in the quarter.
Huntingdon answered when Hudson Speck hooked up with Claar from 12 yards out to knot the score.
BEA answered with another drive, going 54 yards in seven plays with Bartley going in from the six and Schall booting the PAT to make I 14-7 with 2:08 to go.
But in one of several big plays in the kick return game, Huntingdon fumbled the kickoff, Colton Comly recovered for BEA at the Bearcat 34 and on the second play from scrimmage Jason Jones found Greene all alone in the corner of the end zone to make it 21-7 with 1:17 still showing.
The BEA defense forced a Huntingdon punt and after a 26-yard return by Bryce Greene put the ball on the Huntingdon 33, the Eagles drove in for the score on a one-yard sneak by Jones. Schall made it 28-7 with 10:19 on the clock
The Bearcats came back with a score when they marched 62 yards with Claar scoring from the 5 at the 8:07 mark and Devon Green booted the PAT only to have Bryan Greene go 77 yards with the ensuing kickoff to push the BEA lead to 35-14.
“In the huddle we said, ‘let’s take this one to the house,’ ‘’ Greene said. “I got to the outside and saw my brother leading me in for the touchdown.”
Huntingdon again fumbled the kickoff, Cody Schall recovered for BEA at the 27 and in three plays the Eagles were on the board when Levi Cramer, who is 6-foot-3, 270 pounds and normally an offensive tackle, lined up at fullback and slammed in from the 4.Schall’s kick made it 42-14 with 6:52 to go.
That was time enough for three more touchdowns as Stechock scored from the 10 with 6:00 to go, Bryce Greene went 58 yards on a reverse with 4:53 left and Stechock got another touchdown on a 19-yard run with1:02 on the clock to make it 49-28.
BEA left its offense in the locker room at the half but the Bearcats were just warming up.
They had the ball for all but six plays in the third quarter. They took the second-half kickoff and drove 56 yards in 11 plays with Jon Wagner scoring from the six. But in another key play in the game, the extra point kick was no good, setting the score at 49-34 with 6:31 remaining in the quarter.
The was all of the scoring in the third quarter but in the fourth Huntingdon marched from its own 41 for a score when Stechock again scored on an inside counter from the 14 with 5:27 showing on the clock.
Huntingdon recovered the on-sides kick at the BEA 43 and after Speck hit Logan Fisher for 31 yards to the BEA 12, the Bearcats punched it is with Claar going in from the 8. Greene then made the stop to save the game.
“Our kids realized they were still in the game and that they could score,” said Huntingdon coach Mike Hudy, who had watched his team beat Central Mountain, 56-41 last week. “We’ve been preaching to them about having to focus for a full game. When you get behind you have to keep plugging away. You have to be ready from the first snap and we weren’t and it caught up with us.
“At the half we told the kids they could do it. We just simplified things in the second half. We were a lot smaller than they were and they kept pushing us around but they didn’t score in the second half. We came to play in the second half.
“We saw what happened to us last week. We were almost on the other side of it then.”
The win had playoff implications for the Eagles, who are still in the running for one of the eight playoff berths.
“It was a huge win for us,” Tobias said. “We told the kids to go out in the second half and play like it was 0-0. But they scored, got the momentum, we were driving and had to punt and they go and score again. That on-sides kick made it real interesting.
“When they lined up for the two-point play we told the kids they had to come up with a big play. When we stopped them we got the offensive line together and told them they had to make it happen, they had to put a drive together.”