Bald Eagle Area quarterback Jaden Jones said he had nightmares of last year’s District 6 Class 3A title game.
He also couldn’t stop saying the word “phenomenal,” but hey, what else could be said after a six-touchdown passing night?
Jones and his fellow Eagles teammates aired the ball out on Saturday at Mansion Park en route to a 41-13 rout of Westmont Hilltop for BEA’s second straight District 6 crown after claiming the program’s first title in 30 years last season.
“I can’t take a lot of the credit because it’s mostly on them,” Jones said of his teammates’ efforts. “It all starts up front. Our O-line did a phenomenal job tonight. Our running backs did a great job sealing the edge for me. Our receivers did a phenomenal job tonight. They did their job.”
Jones finished the night 21-of-29 for 386 passing yards, six touchdowns and one interception. The senior started going off early and often.
He had four passing scores in the first half. Jones was 11-of-17 for 273 yards too.
“Our game plan was to stop Jones from scrambling and take away their run game and make them one-dimensional,” Hilltoppers coach Pat Barron said. “They hit some big passes on us early and put us behind the 8-ball.”
It’s safe to say that Barron’s game plan came back to haunt his squad.
Jones connected with Kaden Bittinger on half of his passing touchdowns. The first came on the Eagles’ first possession and it took just over a minute for the score.
After BEA’s defense forced a punt on Westmont’s first possession, Jones hit a streaking Gage McClenahan on a wheel route for a 30-yard score. Another defensive stop on the Hilltoppers’ double-wing, double-tight end offense saw Jones connect with Matthew Reese on a 78-yard bomb on the one-play drive.
Jones and Co. led 21-0 with 1:30 left in the first quarter.
“He’s a 3-year starting quarterback and one of the best in the state,” Eagles’ coach Jesse Nagle said. “We felt very confident letting him have the ball in his hands and letting him go to work. All year long, we’ve been banged up. Tonight, we were as close to fully healthy as we have been. It was the second week in a row that we have all of our weapons. The timing and stuff came back and he looked outstanding.”
Westmont was able to slow down the bleeding while going on a 7-plus minute drive. The Hilltoppers ended the drive on a Hudson Holbay 1-yard dive, but it was a little too late.
Jones and his receiving corps responded within 40 seconds. He found Reese, who led the team in receiving with six receptions for 192 yards, on a 48 yard score and it was 28-7 BEA with 4:57 left in the half.
“You got to get the ball in the playmakers’ hands. They are phenomenal athletes,” Jones said of his receiving corps. “We moved Gage McClenahan from slot to wide out to running back. He’s done a little bit of everything. We have phenomenal athletes. It makes it very easy on me to just get it into their hands and let them work.”
The Eagles went up by as much as 27 points, the highest lead all night with just over two minutes left in the third quarter. Jones and Bittinger hooked up for the second score of the night between the two on a 27-yard pass. The duo combined for the final score of the game with 6:56 left in the game when Jones looked to overthrow Bittinger. The senior receiver, who finished with 140 yards receiving on 10 receptions, had other plans making a diving catch in the end zone.
Now, BEA turns its focus to Bedford, which it will play next week in the first round of the PIAA Class 3A playoffs.
Nagle told his team to enjoy this one for a little before turning their focus toward the Bison.
“To me, it means everything,” Nagle said of his team winning back-to-back District 6 titles. “These kids bought into what we do here and put everything into it. I’m very proud of every one of them.”
Bald Eagle Area 41, Westmont Hilltop 13
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Westmont Hilltop 0 7 0 6 -- 13
Bald Eagle Area 21 7 6 7 -- 41
BEA--Bittinger 23 pass from Jones (Stere kick), 10:26.
BEA--McClenahan 30 pass from Jones (Stere kick), 6:33.
BEA--Reese 78 pass from Jones (Stere kick), 1:34.
WH--Holbay 1 run (Jo. Grassa kick), 5:45.
BEA--Reese 48 pass from Jones (Stere kick), 4:57
BEA--Bittinger 27 pass from Jones (kick failed), 2:04.
WH--Dunn 74 run (kick blocked), 11:47.
BEA--Bittinger 10 pass from Jones (Stere kick), 6:56
TEAM STATISTICS WH BEA
First downs 12 15
Total yards 167 432
Rushes-yards 51-161 16-47
Yards passing 6 386
Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 1-6-2 21-29-1
Punts-avg. 3-35.6 0-0
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 4-35 9-81
RUSHING--Westmont Hilltop, Holbay 25-116, Blackburn 8-21, Dunn 6-92, Muto 9-23, Dean 3-9. Bald Eagle Area, McClenahan 6-34, Burns 3-11, Jones 6-4, Bittinger 1-(-2).
PASSING--Westmont Hilltop, Polacek 1-5-6-2, Blackburn 0-1-0-0. Bald Eagle Area, Jones 21-29-386-1.
RECEIVING--Westmont Hilltop, Muto 1-6. Bald Eagle Area, McClenahan 3-43, Bittinger 10-140, Eckley 1-5, Reese 6-192.