Tyrone senior Mark Mingle gets a huge hole to run through, courtesy of his teammates during the Eagles 35-7 triumph over Philipsburg-Osceola, at Gray-Vets Memorial Field on Friday night. (The Daily Herald/Virgie Werner)
Philipsburg-Osceola coach Jeff Vroman has seen his team get dissected this season by big plays.
But when you play the Tyrone Golden Eagles, you’re often forced to make a choice: do you want to go down with the immediacy of a long pass or run, or do you want to play it safe and sink with time-consuming drive.
Most seasons – this one included – the Eagles have the personnel to do both. They showed that much last night in their 35-7 victory over the Mounties at Gray-Veterans Memorial Field.
And on one play, Tyrone actually found a way to both in one fell swoop. At least that’s how coach John Franco and his coaching staff saw it.
With the Eagles leading 28-7 in the third quarter, and backed to their own 8-yard line, running back Mark Mingle took a handoff up the middle, burst through a P-O defense stacked at the line of scrimmage and – with a series of three slight shifts in direction – managed to outrun the Mounties secondary on a 92-yard touchdown run.
“One of our coaches said to him, ‘Hey Mark, thanks for taking a lot of time off the clock. That really helped our defense,” Franco joked afterwards.
The sometimes austere Franco could afford to be a little lighter than usual after the Eagles improved to 6-1 (4-1 MAC Nittany Division). In a game where he said the Eagles didn’t play with the same offensive rhythm they had established in their previous three, they were still able to pile up 479 yards of total offense, 368 of which came on the ground.
“We didn’t control the line of scrimmage,” said Vroman, whose team dipped to 2-5 and 2-4. “They beat us to the punch on the offensive line, to their credit. That’s where the football game was won. No doubt about it.”:
In the first half, Mingle had been running as well as he had before he was slowed by a toe injury three weeks ago. His long run allowed him to finish over 100 yards for the second time this season with a game-best 161 yards and two touchdowns on 7 carries. Meanwhile, Larry Glace plugged his way to 127 yards on 21 carries – his sixth 100-yard performance this season.
“We’ve got two guys we can use and that gives us some depth,” Franco said.
The effort of Tyrone’s defensive front equaled that of the offense. Against an offense that was averaging more than 300 yards per game since Week 3, the Golden Eagles stopped seven plays in the backfield. P-O finished with just 71 yards of total offense, 34 of which came in the first quarter on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Zack Czap to Brad Rocco on a broken coverage.
The Eagles made several shifts on defense to fill the void left by injured safety Jeremy Barlett, resulting in four players lining up in unfamiliar positions. Glace started at safety, moving from linebacker, while Matt Murray flipped to the strong-side defensive end from weak-side, with John Shaffer flipping to weak-side from strong.
Sharrod Hankerson, starting for the first time since an emergency appendectomy prior to the Clearfield game in Week 4, shifted from linebacker to the defensive line. He finished with three tackles in the Mounties’ backfield.
“(Because of the changes), the aggressiveness we usually play with wasn’t there,” said Franco. “We changed positions on Hankerson. We thought he might be good (on the line) to spot a player, and after the first series or two, when he got used to it a little bit, he did a nice job.”
Tyrone drove 77 yards on its first possession to take a 7-0 lead. Reihart was 3-for-3 on the drive, including a 23-yard connection with Eric Desch and a 20-yarder to Ben Ingle. Mingle scored from the 1 to give Tyrone the lead at the 7:59 mark.
The Eagles were back in business after the Mounties’ first play from scrimmage. Steve Rusnak ran up the middle on first down, but was stripped fighting for extra yardage. Shaffer was there to scoop up the ball and go 35 yards untouched for the score.
“It always helps to go out to a big lead,” said Shaffer. “(Rusnak) was trying to push on the pile and when I saw the ball laying on the ground I just grabbed it.”
P-O countered with a 6-play, 65-yard drive that ended with Czap’s pass to Rocco, making it 14-7 at the end of the first quarter.
But after that series, the Mounties managed just one more first down. They were forced to punt on their next five possessions, including all four in the second half.
Tyrone, on the other hand, scored two more times before halftime. The first came on a 7-play, 74-yard march accomplished solely on the ground. Mingle ran for gains of 27 and 20 yards, and Glace capped the drive with a 4-yard run. The third of Shaffer’s five PAT kicks made it 21-7
The Eagles scored once more on a 1-yard blast by Mingle to cap an 80-yard drive near the end of the first half. Glace ran twice for gains of 12 yards to help push the ball into P-O territory, but the big play was a 23-yard completion to Desch, who adjusted on the ball and outfought a P-O corner near the sideline to set Tyrone up at the 13.
“We had people covered,” Vroman said. “On most of their completions, we just weren’t aggressive enough to the football. I was very pleased with our coverage, but we just weren’t aggressive enough.”
So in the end, it was a win – one the Eagles needed to have, and one that allowed some familiar faces in new places to start to get their feet wet. But Franco saw a lot of room for improvement.
“I didn’t think we looked nearly as sharp as we did last week,” he said. “But Philipsburg kids are tough kids. The telling factors were our offensive and defensive lines. They controlled the game.”
GRID TIDBITS – With his five PATs, Shaffer becam the third Golden Eagles kicker to convert on more than 100 for his career. He now has 103. Scott Gummo leads the list with 180, while his brother Ben is second with 112 … Shaffer, Mingle Jerrod Good and Jared Templeton each had tackles for loss … Reihart was picked off for the first time this season in the third quarter by Czap. He finished 9-for-13 for 111 yards … Tyrone has not lost a regular season game at home since 2003 … the Eagles host Lewistown next week on Homecoming.
Tyrone 35 Philipsburg-Osceola 7
Tyrone 14 14 7 0 – 35
Philipsburg-Osceola 7 0 0 0 – 7
T – Mingle 1 run (Shaffer kick) 7:59
T – Shaffer 35 fumble recovery (Shaffer kick) 7:39
P – Rocco 34 pass from Czap (Czap kick) :10.4
T – Glace 4 run (Shaffer kick) 9:24
T – Mingle 1 run (Shaffer kick) 1:22
T – Mingle 92 run (Shaffer kick) 5:05
1st Downs 24 4
Yards Rushing 368 71
Pass Att.-Comp. 9-14 1-10
Yards Passing 111 34
Total Offense 479 71
Int. By 0 1
Fum. Rec. 0-0 1-1
Punts-Avg. 0-0 6-39
Penalties/Yards 4-20 2-10
TYRONE – Mingle 7-161; Glace 21-127; Gault 10-44; Smith 4-11; Ripka 3-10; Burke 4-9; Reihart 1-6.
PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA- Coval 5-40; Lippert 1-4; Rusnak 1-2; Czap 7-(-1); Bucior 1-(-1); Rocco 1-(-7).
TYRONE- Reihart 9-13-111, 0 TD, 1 Int.; Walker 0-1-0.
PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA- Czap 1-6-34, 1 TD, 0 Int.; Coval 0-4-0.
TYRONE – Desch 3-58; Ingle 2-25; Mingle 2-15; Shaffer 1-7; Gault 1-6.
PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA- Rocco 1-34.