When Bellefonte and Philipsburg-Osceola squared off against each other at Rogers Stadium on Friday night, one thing was certain: One streak would end, while another skid would continue.
Entering the game, the Red Raiders had lost 19 games in a row, their last win coming over the Mounties on Sept. 14, 2012.
On the other side of the field, the Mounties found themselves looking for a win after nine straight losses, their most recent victory a 52-14 conquest of the Raiders one year ago in the fourth game of the season.
After 48 minutes of Mountain League football, the Red Raiders found themselves celebrating a 36-0 Luther Trophy victory over their county rivals, while the Mounties were left looking for that elusive win to snap the skid.
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“I don’t know,” Bellefonte head coach Shanon Manning said about his emotions as he watched his troops celebrate. “I am just focused on the kids because they deserved to have a win. This is a long-standing rivalry in Centre County. That game has been going on for a long, long time and a lot of legendary coaches have coached in this game and that means a lot to these kids.”
Although the Raiders lost to District 4 power Jersey Shore and a narrow 28-20 loss to Huntingdon, Manning could see good things gradually building for his team.
“These kids have just worked hard week by week and you could see them making progress,” said Manning. “I think they were getting to a point where they were wondering if they were ever going to get over that cliff. Last week against Huntingdon you could see that and not taking anything away from Huntingdon, I felt that we gave that game away. It was just good to see them come out and put together a good half of football.”
Extremely happy with the win, Manning also recognized what lies ahead for his troops as they attempt to keep things moving forward.
“I was pleased with the way the kids performed, but we still have some things we need to sew up,” he said. “We also have to get healthy because right now, we have four starting linemen out (with injuries) so we have a lot of work to do.”
One of the keys to Bellefonte’s success was a swarming defensive effort that gave them short fields as well as causing a number of Mountie turnovers that were turned into points.
“We had a short field a couple of times and for once it is nice to be on the other end of the turnovers,” Manning said. “The kids came out so focused that quite honestly that game could have been 44-0 at the half. We had a long touchdown run called back, but it is what it is whether you win by one or you win by 50. It has been a long time, but it sure feels nice to win.”
In addition to coming out with a crucial win, Manning and his staff also saw a number of other good things to help the Raiders build on for the rest of the season.
“Right now we just have to get healthy,” he said. “From the linemen perspective, we are really banged up. Right now we are just trying to survive with all of the injuries. As for the rest of the year, we will be as good as we can be healthy.”
The Raiders scored on their first five possessions and they never looked back as five different players got into the scoring act.
Nick Jabco started the touchdown parade with a 21-yard TD jaunt and three minutes later, Kellen Moss hauled in a 24-yard scoring aerial from quarterback Mark Armstrong.
Austin Jackson ripped off a 75-yard jaunt to pay dirt before Dillon Kephart and Storm Smith completed Red Raider scoring, each with a one-yard plunge.
Jackson led the Raiders over land with 111 yards on nine totes, while Kephart had 51 yards on five tries and Jabco finished with 45 yards on seven carries.
“Mark (Armstrong) did a nice job of distributing the ball tonight,” said Manning. “He looked good in making some good decisions and it was good to see him have some success to take some pressure off himself.”