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Special Teams Key Victories

Everyone has heard the cliche’ on how to win football games.
Some say the game is won in the trenches. For others, offense sells tickets, but defense wins football games.
Last week, strong special teams performances played a pivotal role in every Big 8 Conference match up.
Take, for example, Huntingdon’s road win over previously undefeated Bellefonte. After the Raiders scored following a fumbled shotgun snap by the Bearcats, Huntingdon’s Ron Quinn responded with a 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to tie the score.
Huntingdon never lost the momentum it gained from that play, and went on to win 21-14 to improve to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the conference.
In Indian Valley’s 42-15 win over Clearfield, Valley’s Matt Setzer blocked a punt that was returned for a score. Tyrone blocked a key field goal attempt by Lewistown’s Seth Smeltz while the Eagles held a still tenuous 7-0 over the Panthers. Tyrone scored on its next possession and won 35-0.
Leading 14-0 over Bald Eagle Area, Bishop Guilfoyle blocked a punt attempt out of the endzone to pick up a safety and a 16-0 lead. The Marauders capitalized where the Eagles could not because later in the game BEA failed to turn a blocked punt of its own into points.
Finally, in Penns Valley’s 38-7 route of Philipsburg-Osceola, kicker Carl Anderson drilled a 31-yard field goal to put the icing on a solid all-around performance by the Rams.
Offensive Woes
Philipsburg-Osceola is again this season a team in a state of flux. The Mounties hired coach Jeff Vroman in the off-season, P-O’s third head coach in the last four seasons, and the team has been slow to adjust to the new system.
The Mounties are 1-2, but have produced just one offensive touchdown and have been outscored a collective 45-14. Their other score came in a 7-0 win over Lewistown in Week 1 when Zach Johns returned an interception 70 yards for a score.
In its last two games alone, Philipsburg-Osceola has mustered just 226 yards in total offense.
To date, the Mounties have gained a total of 391 yards in three games, for an average of 130 yards per game.
Quarterback High
Something about the Tom Gravish system at Bellefonte brings out the best in quarterbacks.
His first season with the Raiders in 1999, Gravish coached Bill Witmer, a strong-armed quarterback who passed for over 2,000 yards as a senior and signed out of high school with Clarion before transferring later to Lock Haven. Next came Stewart Sampsel, another slinger who put together back-to-back 1,000-yard passing seasons in 2000 and 2001 and signed with Buffalo University.
The Raiders are now grooming another young quarterback to fill the role of the high-profile passer in sophomore Josh Mundy. Mundy is coming along, according to Gravish, and has the work ethic to develop into a passer like Sampsel.
“He works very hard,” said Gravish. “He comes in early in the morning to work on his passing and he worked extremely hard in the off-season.”
Against Huntingdon last week, Mundy completed 12 of 22 passes for 164 yards and one touchdown.
Top Performers
Bald Eagle Area quarterback Mark Fisher completed 6 of 11 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns last Friday in the Eagles’ loss 44-20 loss to Bishop Guilfoyle to lead all conference passers. Teammate Eli Halterman was on the receiving end of four of those passes totaling 200 yards to lead all receivers.
Two teams saw a pair of rushers top the 100-yard mark, led by Indian Valley’s Derek Fisher (155) and Luke Astort (139) in the Warriors’ win over Clearfield. Valley racked 318 rushing yards and 422 total.
Meanwhile, Tyrone sophomores Ben Gummo (132) and Brice Mertiff (128) also surpassed the 100-yard mark in Tyrone’s won over Lewistown. Both rushers posted career-high numbers, while Mertiff became the first first-year running back to gain over 100 yards for the Eagles since Jesse Jones in 1997.