By Nate Ritchey
LOYSBURG – Northern Bedford entered the half against Meyersdale with a two-goal lead.
The Black Panthers’ offense wasn’t exactly clicking on all cylinders in the opening half, and they were looking to turn things around coming out of the locker room.
NBC did that while getting contributions from all sides — offense, defense and special teams — by putting up 21 points in the second quarter.
The Panthers turned a halftime lead into the mercy rule with three touchdowns in less than five minutes that led to a 35-14 victory over the Red Raiders on Friday night in District 5 Class 1A semifinal action at. Panther Community Stadium.
“They (Meyersdale) set up to stop the run, so we had a couple of plays where we tried to call. We went at it in the first quarter, and it wasn’t working,” Northern Bedford coach Garry Black said. “In the second half, they worked quickly. We had a good place and took advantage of it. Aaron (Bowers) had a great punt return to set one up. …
Gameplay: Leading 14-0 at halftime, Northern Bedford pushed on Meyersdale to open the second half. The defense forced a three-and-out with a punt that Bowers fielded and returned 40 yards to the MY 23. A 5-yard facemask penalty was called on the extra 5 yards, and the Panthers were in business at the Meyersdale 18. On first down, quarterback Eion Snider found Ben Gable on the right side of the zone. the final touchdown to make it 21-0 at 10:06 of the third.
Gable: “We knew we just needed them to lower their confidence (Meyersdale). And, we knew we needed to stop them in the first drive (after the half), and if we answered that we would have more energy and it would have been difficult for them to stop us.”
Player of the game: Gable only had two catches on the night but the senior made them all count for points. In addition to the 18-yarder, he hauled in a 27-yarder that Snider threw into the back of the end zone. Gable had to stop his feet to set up a field goal, reaching the end zone to pull the ball in for a score that put Northern up 33-0 with 5:22 to go in the third. Gable then caught a two-point conversion pass from running back Vaughn Schleinkofer to start the clock running for a 35-0 lead.
Gable: “We knew (Snider) struggled in the first half. But he just came back and put it where it needed to be, and we did well from there. … Well, I didn’t think I was comfortable and I was surprised when I saw the ball. So, the way I followed it, I didn’t expect it.” to get it but I just came with it – I don’t know how it is.”
Unsung heroes: Bowers and Snider. In addition to a powerful punt return, Bowers sacked Red Raider QB Lance Jones on the ensuing drive after NBC went up 21-0. Junior returned the punt 25 yards untouched to give his team a 27-0 edge with 8:14 left. Bowers returned his only punt of the night 47-yards in the second quarter that helped Meyersdale to their 11.
Bowers: “I’ve got a good problem for me. I picked it up, made the first man miss and saw the lane outside and just hit it. … They ran the play (after the return) earlier in the game, and the coaches said it was wide open. So, I was looking, I was reading the time. I’m just doing my thing.”
Snider, who didn’t practice all week because of a concussion he suffered late in the season, disrupted a few receivers in the first half, but bounced back in the second half with only two throws needed. He finished 5-of-8 for 112 yards and two touchdowns to Gable. He also ran the ball four times for 31 yards, including the game’s opening score when he crossed the goal line from 1-yard line for third-and-goal with 8:06 left in the first quarter.
Black: “We had some things open up in the first half and we were missing them. Eion got shot last week and couldn’t practice all week. Our coach is amazing – give a shout out to Mrs. (Katina) Gibbner. She continued to work with him, and she came with him on Monday when we weren’t at school just to help him get to where he could play tonight. I think he was a little rusty, and I told him, ‘Don’t worry about it. Just throw the ball and we’ll score and get out of there.'”
Key stats: Northern Bedford had a better third quarter as they had just two offensive plays that both resulted in touchdowns. Meanwhile, Meyersdale had 24 plays and the final tally for his first points of the night on Spencer Whitfield’s 5-yard TD run with 4.3 ticks left in the quarter.
Meyersdale coach Ryan Donaldson: “We weren’t satisfied with being down 14 at halftime. But we felt if we got the ball, and went 14-0 at halftime, we could figure something out. We tried it at halftime. The problem is, Coach Black’s team is very good. We knew that.” that if we can’t put something together when we get the ball after half-time, then it will be very difficult in the last 24 minutes.
Notable: The two teams met again in Week 7 with Northern Bedford claiming a 43-6 victory on the road. … Adam Johnson, who ran the ball nine times in the first half for 29 yards, gave the Panthers their second touchdown when he scored easily from 1-yard out with 3:18 left in the first half. … Black was able to unload his bench following a 35-0 lead, which allowed Meyersdale to win. … Malachi Carr found Schleinkofer on the first play of the final quarter that gave the Red Raiders their second touchdown when Tucker Lapp scored on a 12-yarder at 5:24 of the fourth.
Record: Meyersdale (6-5); Northern Bedford (11-0).
Next week: Meyersdale’s season is over; Northern Bedford will play Windber Thursday night at Somerset Area High School in the District 5 Class 1A championship at 7 p.m.
Donaldson: “I’m very proud. I just told them that they were wrong based on what happened to us in the past. They have never been to a playoff game. They are happy and very grateful for this opportunity. We came up short – we fought tonight. I am proud of each and every one of them.”
THE SCORE IS OVER
Meyersdale 0 0 7 7 – 14
Northern Bedford 7 7 21 0 – 35
NB–Snider 1 run (Kochara kick), 8:06.
NB–Johnson 1 run (Kochara kick), 3:18.
NB-Gable 18 pass from E. Snider (Kochara kick), 10:06.
NB-Bowers 25 interception return (kick blocked), 8:14.
NB-Gable 27 pass from E. Snider (Gable pass from Schleinkofer), 5:22.
MY-Whitfield 5 run (Ohler kick), 4.3.
The fourth part
MY–Lapp 12 run (Ohler kick), 5:24.
TEAM STATISTICS MY NB
First down 14 9
Total 240 203 yards
Rushing-yards 35-147 24-84
93 119 passing yards
Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 12-22-1 6-10-1
Principle-Avg. 3-21.0 1-47.0
Fumbles-lost 2-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 6-43 4-30
RUSHING–Meyersdale, Brenneman 17-50, Schurg 3-16, Whitfield 12-76, Lapp 1-12, Jones 1-(-8), Ohler 1-1. Northern Bedford, Johnson 9-29, E. Snider 4-31, Detterline 5-23, Gable 2-1, N. Snider 2-0, Clark 1-1, TEAM 1-(-1).
PASSING–Meyersdale, Jones 12-21-1-93, Whitfield 0-1-0-0. Northern Bedford, E. Snider 5-8-0-112, Schleinkofer 1-2-1-7.
RECEIVING–Meyersdale, Carr 7-69, Brenneman 3-9, Schurg 1-0, Sellers 1-15. Northern Bedford, Johnson 1-13, Pittman 1-38, Bowers 1-16, Gable 2-45, N. Snider 1-7.