|Going for 200 Tyrone senior Shayne Tate picks up a big chunk of the 204 yards he rushed for against Huntingdon in the Golden Eagles’ 18-0 victory on Saturday night at Gray-Vets Memorial Field. (The Daily Herald/Steve Michaels)|
After his team’s 18-0 victory over Huntingdon last night at Gray-Veterans Memorial Field, Tyrone coach John Franco said he tells his players often that tradition never graduates – that it’s every players’ responsibility to carry on what players before them have established.
And the Golden Eagles are winning like the teams that preceded them, now 2-0 after two weeks for the fourth straight season after recording their second shutout.
But for anyone who’s looking for the same flare that that went along with the wins of 1996, 1999, 2004 or 2006, they’d be better off looking in the conference room at the Tyrone Area High School athletic office, where the team stores its game film, because the Eagles of 2007 aren’t doing it with panache.
“We’ve won two games on nothing but pure heart, desire, guts and hustle,” Franco said. “Now if we could just take it one step farther and get the execution of the offense … but that’s the growing pains of a sophomore quarterback, two new running backs and pretty much a new line. It’s the inevitable growing pains, but that doesn’t mean I’ve got to like it.”
There was a lot for Franco not to like about the Eagles’ victory, which upped their regular season winning streak to 25 games. There were the four penalties, not including two illegal shift calls that were declined. There were the three turnovers, two by way of interception. There was a blocked extra-point.
But there was a lot to feel good about, most notably Tyrone’s running game, which ground out 356 yards without the services of starting running back Johnny Franco, who could possibly return to the lineup as early as next week.
In his absence, senior Shayne Tate – who spent 2006 as a wide receiver – recorded his second straight 100-yard game, rushing for 204 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. Junior Mark Mingle – despite playing on a sprained ankle – added another 109 and a touchdown on 15 carries.
By the fourth quarter, when Tyrone ran for 107 yards, the cumulative effect of the Eagles’ relentless rushing attack was too much for the Bearcats.
“It gets frustrating, and it wears on the two-way players,” said Huntingdon coach Jim Zauzig. “It wasn’t quite as bad as last year, when we were victims of big plays. They had some big plays here, but they moved the ball on us.”
And when Tyrone wasn’t methodically pushing the ball forward, its defense was smothering Huntingdon’s offense. The Eagles stopped seven plays in the ‘Cats’ backfield, and held them without a first down until the six-minute mark of the third quarter.
“Coming into every game, we expect nothing less than a shutout,” said senior Shane Emigh. “Coach really doesn’t say that, but the team together, before the game, said we were going to try for a shutout every week. You’ve got to start somewhere.”
So far, so good. Through two games, the Eagles have allowed penetration inside their 20-yard line only once. The closest the ‘Cats came last night was when they advanced as far as Tyrone’s 28 in the fourth quarter, but that foray ended when Brandon Gehret picked off Eric Buza in the end zone.
For most of the game, it looked like Tyrone’s defense might have to hang another zero on the board if they were going to win at all, because although the Eagles moved the ball well, sustaining long drives was problematic early.
Tate started their second series by breaking outside off tackle right and sprinting 53 yards to the Huntingdon 14-yard line. But the next three plays netted only three yards, bringing on Johnny Shaffer, who stuck a 28-yard field goal to lift Tyrone to a 3-0 lead with 5:52 left in the first quarter.
The Eagles’ next two possessions were a series of stops and starts, both ending in turnovers. Mingle ran for 28 yards to the Huntingdon 23 on Tyrone’s next drive, but two plays later sophomore quarterback Levi Reihart fumbled when he was sacked, and Huntingdon linebacker Hunter Morder was there to cover it up.
After holding the ‘Cats to three plays and a punt, the Eagles moved the ball to their own 42 before Reihart was intercepted by Michael Sellers.
But Tyrone managed to get on the board once more before the half. Starting at their own 27, the Eagles advanced the ball as far as the Huntingdon 11 using six straight running plays, including a 29-yard reverse to Emigh. But the drive stalled there with a holding penalty and another sack of Reihart, placing the ball on the 26.
From there, Shaffer came on to kick a 44-yard field goal, just one yard short of the Tyrone record set by Scott Gummo in 1999, making it 6-0 at halftime.
“He was booming them in pre-game,” said Franco. “I looked at (assistant) Tony Yaniello and said what do you do? He said he’s good from 50 and in. So we said if we can line it up from the 40 and in, we’re going to go for it.”
The Eagles found their way into the end zone on their first series of the second half. After a 20-yard punt return by Tate set them up at midfield, they drove 50 yards in seven plays, including back-to-back 13-yard runs by Tate and Mingle that put the ball at the 2. Mingle blasted in from there one play later to make it 12-0 at the 6:46 mark.
Tyrone put a lid on the game in the fourth quarter with a 90-yard scoring drive that lasted five minutes and consisted of eight straight running plays. The biggest came on third-and-8 from the Tyrone 33 when the Eagles used a quick count to catch the ‘Cats out of position on a Shayne Tate sweep to the left. Tate broke to the outside and ran 67 yards for his second touchdown of the season.
“They had been really loading up inside,” said Franco. “I thought that they felt we were just going to try to run it out and punt, but I just didn’t want to make Levi punt.”
Reihart had been struggling with leg cramps much of the second half, and was even forced to the sidelines for two series.
“The two-way guys might have been slow in getting to their alignment and I think John sensed that and started going with the quicker count,” Zauzig said.
The Eagles will now face Penns Valley at home next week, and Franco said his team will spend the next seven days correcting the mistakes it made against Huntingdon.
“We can’t play offensive football like we did tonight and expect to beat Penns Valley,” he said. “They’re pretty good. That game used to be a gimmie, now, the roles are reversed. They’re going to come in as the favorite, and this will be the first time since I’ve been here that we’ve been an underdog against Penns Valley.”
GRID TIDBITS: Ben Ingle had an interception in the fourth quarter … Gehret recovered a fumble on a mishandled punt return attempt … Anthony Young drew kudos from Zauzig for his all-around play. He accounted for 71 of the ‘Cats 98 total yards and blocked an extra-point attempt in the third quarter … Huntingdon is now 1-1.
Tyrone 18 Huntingdon 0
Tyrone 3 3 6 6 – 18
Huntingdon 0 0 0 0 – 0
T – Shaffer 28 FG 5:52
T – Shaffer 44 FG 3:56
T – Mingle 2 run (PAT blocked) 6:46
T – Tate 67 run (PAT failed) 3:56
First Downs 18 4
Yards Rushing 356 60
Pass Att.-Comp. 2-11 2-9
Yards Passing 17 38
Total Offense 367 98
Fumble-Rec. 2-1 2-1
Interceptions 2 2
Pen./Yards 4-25 1-12
Punts/Avg. 3-30.6 7-39
Tyrone – Tate 24-204; Mingle 15-109; Emigh 3-34; Walker 4-8; Reihart 3-3; Walk 2-(-2).
Huntingdon – Young 7-37; Buza 9-12; Riley 7-11.
Tyrone – Reihart 2-11-17, 0 TD, 2 Int.
Huntingdon – Buza 2-9-38, 0 TD, 2 Int.
Tyrone – Emigh 2-17.
Johnstown – Young 1-34; Fisher 1-4.