The Penns Valley Rams have grown accustomed to putting up enormous numbers on offense this season. On Friday night, it was the team’s defense that stole the show on its way to a 14-6 victory over Bellefonte.
Penns Valley head coach Martin Tobias said his defense’s performance can help the team moving forward.
“I thought it was really important for our kids,” Tobias said. “All season our offense has done some amazing things and Bellefonte really had an outstanding game plan and shut down our passing attack. That’s going to help us moving forward.”
The Penns Valley defense held Bellefonte to 135 rushing yards on 44 carries in the game. That includes Bellefonte’s all-time leading rusher, C.J. Funk, who only rushed for 72 yards on 19 carries. Funk surpassed the 3,000 career rushing yard mark on his first carry of the game, an 18-yard run that put him at 3,002 yards.
The game may have ended up as a defensive struggle, but it didn’t start out that way.
Penns Valley opened the game’s scoring just 24 seconds after the opening kickoff took place. The Rams beat the Bellefonte defense with a 26-yard pass from Tobias to senior wide receiver Austin Fisher to get the ball to the Red Raiders’ 18 yard line. Tobias followed it up with an 18-yard pass to senior wide receiver Stephen Ripka for a touchdown with 11:36 left to play in the first quarter.
The Red Raiders drove down the field twice as they tried to tie the game up, but were stuffed on a fourth-down attempt on back-to-back possessions.
The Rams added to their lead in the second quarter when sophomore tight end Tanner Ilgen took a handoff and cut up the field for an 8-yard touchdown run, extending his team’s lead to 14-0 with 7:02 left in the second quarter.
The Red Raiders finally got on the scoreboard three minutes later when junior quarterback Ethan Rossman kept the ball on 4th-and-2 for a 7-yard touchdown run, cutting the Penns Valley lead to eight after the Rams blocked the extra point.
Bellefonte had an opportunity to get on the board again just before the half, driving down to the Penns Valley 4 yard line with seven seconds on the clock. Rossman tried to connect with senior running back Funk in the back of the end zone on the next play, but Fisher broke the connection up with an interception to help the Rams take a 14-6 lead into the half.
Neither team could get its offense rolling in the second half, with the defenses stealing the show in a scoreless 24 minutes.
Bellefonte head coach Shanon Manning said after the game that his team’s offense needs to be better.
“We’ve got to score more points,” he said. “Until we can consistently go out there and (score) against an elite defense, we’re going to have some problems.”
Manning took the blame for some of the issues.
“I’ve got to do a much better job of preparation,” he said. “I’ve got some things I need to clean up.”
While the Bellefonte offense struggled, its defense was superb. The Red Raiders held Aaron Tobias to a season low 176 passing yards and one touchdown on 14-of-30 passing. Junior linebacker Chris Paloskey also picked off Tobias twice in the game, but it wasn’t enough for the Red Raiders to get the win.
The Red Raiders will be back in action next Friday when they travel to Martinsburg to take on Central, while Penns Valley will travel to Ebensburg to play Bishop Carroll on the same day. Kickoff for both games is set for 7 p.m.
PENNS VALLEY 14, BELLEFONTE 6
(Friday at Bellefonte)
Penns Valley 7 7 0 0 – 14
Bellefonte 0 6 0 0 – 6
PV - S. Ripka 18 pass from Tobias (Gage Ripka kick), 11:36
PV - Tanner Ilgen 8 run (G. Ripka kick), 7:02
B - Rossman 7 run (Rossman kick), 3:57
Top Rusher: PV: Tobias 9-23. B: Funk 19-72.
Top Passer: PV: Tobias 14-30-1-2 147. B: Rossman 7-20-0-1 81.
Top Receiver: PV: Logan Snyder 5-76. B: Trae Bauman 3-53
Interceptions: PV: Austin Fisher. B - Paloskey 2.
Next Game: Penns Valley at Bishop Carroll, Friday. Bellefonte at Central, Friday.