High School Sports

Bellefonte football’s rally against Chestnut Ridge falls short

psheehan@centredaily.com

Monday night is usually reserved for watching two NFL teams compete on the gridiron.

Due to flooding in the area, Bellefonte’s Homecoming game with Chestnut Ridge was moved from Friday to Monday.

The Red Raiders looked like they were stuck in the past in the first half but came to life in the second half of their 30-22 loss to the Lions.

Two interceptions, six penalties and poor special teams play all led to a 23-0 deficit at the half for Bellefonte.

“We did our best to shoot ourselves in the foot,” Red Raiders coach Shanon Manning said. “It was not a characteristic night for us. When you win, the players did a great job. When you lose, that’s on me and I always take responsibility for a loss.

“We were not in a position to win in the first half and that’s on me. We will have things sharpened up and be ready to play on Friday.”

Chestnut Ridge got its first score of the night thanks to a 15-yard field. Bellefonte snapped the ball over punter Stephen Kutches’ head deep in its own territory, and the Lions used four straight run plays capped off with a one-yard score by Noah Dillow with 3:26 left in the first quarter to take the lead.

On the following possession, the Red Raiders used a 22-yard run from Eli Lipscomb and a 15-yard personal foul call on Chestnut Ridge to get to the Lions’ 25. A few plays later, Bellefonte’s Chase Gardner had his pass intended for Tanner Helms picked off by Chestnut Ridge’s Seth Harbaugh in the end zone to kill the drive.

With 3:56 remaining in the half, the Lions scored 10 points in just more than a minute. Nicholas Knoster nailed a 33-yard field goal and Chestnut Ridge’s Phillip Dull ran a punt back 70 yards for a score.

“I thought perhaps the opposite would be true with Monday and the long trip we would start slow,” Lions coach Max Shoemaker said. “We were fortunate to capitalize on a couple of their mistakes in the first half. I was impressed with our kids’ intensity.”

Another one of those mistakes came when an interception ended another nice Bellefonte drive.

Gardner sailed a pass over Gaven Danneker’s head and right into the arms of the Lions’ Derrick Weaver, who returned it to his team’s 45 with 1:07 left in the half. Chestnut Ridge quarterback Logan Hauck connected with Levi Snyder on a 45-yard pass to flip the field quickly. Hauck scored on a 10-yard run 23 seconds later to push his team’s lead to 23-0.

In the second half, the Red Raiders took the opening kickoff.

Four minutes later, Tyler Kreger put Bellefonte on the board on a five-yard run.

“Our goal was to come out of the third quarter and have that shaved down to a 12 or 14-point lead,” Manning said. “What really hurt us (was) our second possession. We picked up nothing, we didn’t even flip the field. Short punt created a short field led to a score, that hurt. That was probably the turning point for us.”

That possession Manning described ended at Bellefonte’s 27. Kutches shanked a punt that went only 22 yards setting the Lions up at the Bellefonte 49 with 2:28 left in the third quarter. Chestnut Ridge went for it on fourth-and-7 during the drive, and Hauck connected with Dull on a 25-yard score to open the final frame.

It was the last time Chestnut Ridge saw the end zone.

With just under six minutes left in the game, momentum swung in Bellefonte’s favor on a blocked punt by Danneker. He came through the left side of the line and got his hand on the ball. He scooped it up at the 10 and rumbled into the end zone, cutting the Red Raiders’ deficit to 30-13.

On the ensuing kickoff, Bellefonte surprised the Lions with an onside kick and recovered it.

The Red Raiders were forced to settle for a 25-yard field goal by Chris Persiko to pull within 14 points much later than Manning wanted.

Bellefonte’s defense forced a turnover on downs at midfield on the next possession with 1:42 to go. On third down of the drive, Kreger connected with Cade Fortney for a 60-yard score, cutting the deficit to 30-22 with just more than a minute to go in the game.

Chestnut Ridge recovered the next onside kick attempt and ran out the clock.

“When you get up on people, you got to put them away,” Shoemaker said of his team. “We don’t have that killer instinct yet. I told our kids all last week, ‘They’re (Bellefonte) not going to lay down. They are going to come after you and come after you. That’s just the way he (Manning) coaches. His intensity and spirit you can see through his kids.”

Nate Cobler: 814-231-4609, @ncoblercdt

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