Bellefonte coach Shanon Manning praised his defense one second and lamented the lack of offensive production the next.
The Red Raiders defense turned in a stellar performance in the first half, holding Chestnut Ridge scoreless until there were 14 seconds left in the second quarter. The unit stepped up to halt the Lions’ first drive in the red zone with back-to-back sacks. It then bottled up Chestnut Ridge’s rushing attack and generated pressure in the backfield into the final minute of the half.
And Manning was pleased with the defense’s effort in the second half when the Lions dominated the field-position battle. But there were no highlights for the Bellefonte offense in a 31-0 loss Friday night at Rogers Stadium.
Bellefonte converted one first down and finished with 32 total yards in the first half. The Red Raiders longest play — a 12-yard rush by Storm Smith — came on their final drive after Chestnut Ridge extended its lead to 31 points. Bellefonte rushed for 72 yards on 28 carries and managed just 11 yards through the air.
“Quite honestly, from a defensive perspective, we made enough plays to win that football game,” Manning said. “Our execution offensively, we need to keep working on it, and I take full responsibility for that and we’ll keep working on it.”
The defense made a statement on Chestnut Ridge’s first drive.
The Lions (8-1) converted a first down on a 7-yard run by bruising fullback Matt Wiley and moved to the 23-yard line on a 12-yard scramble by quarterback Tyler Wiley.
That’s when the Red Raiders defense dug in.
On second down, defensive back Nick Jabco brought down Chestnut Ridge’s Colby Hillegass immediately on a quick pass for a 1-yard loss. On third down, Bellefonte’s Tanner Helms brought the initial pressure and Dillon Kephart pulled down Tyler Wiley for a sack.
Bellefonte’s Tyler Kreger shot into the backfield unblocked on fourth down for another sack.
“We held them a couple times on fourth down throughout this game,” Manning said. “It was just a matter of a situation where we had to make some plays and the kids made some plays.”
Tyler Wiley went 1-for-6 for a loss of one yard in the first quarter.
The Lions’ second drive ended on the first play of the second quarter in a punt. Their third possession ended in a fumble by Matt Wiley recovered by Bellefonte’s Trenton Fortney.
After another punt, Chestnut Ridge took the ball at the 50-yard line with 1:42 left in the half.
The Lions drove to the 27-yard line and spiked the ball.
Two plays later, Tyler Wiley floated a pass to the right corner of the end zone and Bryan Feather went up and hauled it in.
The 27-yard touchdown broke the scoreless tie with 14 seconds left.
“Bellefonte did a nice job,” Chestnut Ridge coach Max Shoemaker said. “Their coaching staff and their kids in executing and taking some things away from us that we’ve been doing in recent, so at halftime we made a couple adjustments and just said hey, there’s only certain things we can do. And the kids did a nice job of carrying that out in the second half.”
Bellefonte (2-7) limited Chestnut Ridge to 71 yards rushing on 19 carries in the first half.
But the Lions ran for 164 yards in the second half.
Matt Wiley and Tyler Wiley combined to convert five consecutive first downs on the opening drive of the third quarter. Matt Wiley punched in a 2-yard touchdown to give the Lions a 14-0 lead. Sean Vanmeter kicked a 24-yard field goal more than seven minutes later, capping a drive that started at the 49-yard line.
A botched kick return by Bellefonte left the Red Raiders backed up at the 8-yard line.
And the Lions ensuing possession started at the 36-yard line and ended with a three-yard touchdown run by Tyler Wiley with 11:28 left in the game.
“This isn’t arena league, and that’s kind of what we allowed to happen for a while tonight,” Manning said of the prime field position for the Lions. “I thought the kids still battled. I don’t think our kids ever rolled over and gave up on this game at any point.”
But the Red Raiders offense never got going.
And Chestnut Ridge did behind the Wileys.
Matt Wiley finished with 105 yards rushing on 21 carries, while Tyler Wiley rushed for 95 yards on 16 carries and threw for two touchdowns.
Despite the score, Manning continues to see growth in his players a year after a winless season.
“This program wasn’t competitive last year,” Manning said. “This is a program that is now competitive every week.”