Last Friday’s game against East came between an emotional win at Freeport and the upcoming match up against Boylan. Considering a 48 – 0 rout last year, the Bucs could be forgiven for not taking the E-rabs all that seriously. However, East came to play at Funderburg Stadium and managed a few surprises.
The first quarter was all Belvidere. The Bucs took the opening kick-off and it took less than a minute and a half for them to score their first touchdown of the night. Matt Barr kept the ball and ran 68 yards in for the score. Jason Swartz’ kick was good and the Bucs were up 7 – 0. East got their first penalty of the game: running into the kicker. Their penalty woes continued through their first possession, an illegal procedure call erasing their only run for positive yardage and lining up the neutral zone sent them back to their own 2 yard line. The Bucs started their next possession in E-rabs territory; on the 42 yard line. Brandon Smaha took a handoff down to the 31 yard line for a Bucs first down and Matt Barr decided to keep the ball himself and ran round and down the sideline for his second touchdown. Again Jason Swartz’ kick was good and the Bucs were up by 14 with almost eight minutes left to play in the first quarter. East showed some signs of life. After another player bobbled the ball, Chris Appleton managed to return it to their own 42 yard line. However, the Bucs defense stepped up and that was as far as they would go. Appleton caught a quick pass, but was crushed in the backfield by Mike Magyar and Cris Collier. On a bad snap, East fumbled but managed to recover. However, after -3 yards gain in three tries, the E-rabs had to punt it away again.
Steve Golubski took the snaps on the next Bucs possession. His first pass to Matt Barr was incomplete. His second was too, but a pass interference call on the E-rabs advanced the Bucs to the 43 yard line. Adam Wells rushed 32 yards, pushed out of bounds. Golubski found Tyler Pearse on the next play, a 31 yard reception. Pearse rushed down to the 10 yard line, Nate Byers took the next handoffs and pushed in to the end zone on third down at the 1 yard line. Swartz’ point after was good and the Bucs were up 21 – 0.
A flag on the return pushed East back to their 14 yard line. On fourth and four, E-rabs quarterback Kyle Saunders managed to scramble to the 24 yard line for a first down. Antonio Brooks caught a pass for another first down at the 36, but that was as far as East would get. A fumble on the next play was recovered, but for a nine yard loss. The Bucs defense held firm and East punted it away again. Belvidere went three and out to finish up the first quarter. So far no surprises.
But at the start of the second quarter, East managed to drive down the field and get into Belvidere territory for the first time. On third down and ten, Billy Wallen broke a tackle and ran 47 yards in for a touchdown. The point after was good and the score was 21 – 7.
Matt Barr was back in as quarterback on the next drive. A series of rushes got the Bucs out quickly to their own 40 yard line. The Bucs fumbled, but recovered. On first down from the E-rabs’ 44, Barr connected with Brandon Wakeley for a 27 yard gain. Tyler Pearse broke tackles to get down to the 1 yard line and pushed it into the end zone on the next play. The point after was good and the Bucs were up 28 – 7. But East was not done yet. Curtis Cooks took the kick off return and scrambled 76 yards for a touchdown. Adam Wells took the return for the Bucs and ran back to the 43 yard line. Barr kept the ball on first down and as he was boxed in on the sideline, noticed Wells coming up from behind. A quick flip of the ball and Wells was off to the races, 57 yards, for a touchdown. The point after was good and the Bucs were up 35 – 14.
Now it was up to the Bucs defense. They ganged up on Chris Appleton on the return. On third down and 12, East went back to pass and Ryan Gorham came up with the ball for the Bucs at the East 39 yard line. With a little more than two minutes left in the half, the offense went back to work. Barr connected with Pearse for a first down. Barr kept the ball and jogged down for another first down. Elijah Johnson did manage to break through and sack Barr at the 16 yard line, but that just delayed the inevitable. On the next play, Barr found Tyler Pearse in the end zone for a 15 yard reception and touchdown. The kick after was good and the Bucs had a 42 – 14 lead. The E-rabs next possession was almost doomed from the start. Chris Appleton took the kick off and was hit by his own man before being stacked up and hit hard by the Bucs defense. They pushed the line back on the next play, forcing a fumble. Cory Radke came up with it for the Bucs. With time running out, the Bucs went to work from the East 37 yard line. Barr went back to pass, but couldn’t find anyone. He was flushed out and almost sacked; he rounded around and doubled back into Belvidere territory. At roughly the Bucs’ 40 yard line, he finally spotted Brandon Smaha. Barr passed and Smaha caught it and took it down to the 9 yard line as the crowd roared its approval.
The third quarter had fewer fireworks. Neither team got a first down in their first possession. With 6:27 on the clock, the Bucs got the ball back at the E-rabs 46 yard line. Nate Byers took a series of hand-offs to push down to the 31. Matt Stringini took a Golubski pass at the line of scrimmage and surged for a five yard gain. After a facemask penalty on East, Chris Webber ran it in for a touchdown from the three yard line. The Bucs were up 48 – 14 after a missed point after.
The Bucs started the fourth quarter in East territory. Weber got a handoff and ran down to the 35 yard line. Nate Byers stayed on the left sideline to run it in for a touchdown on the next play. Swartz’ kick was good and Belvidere was up 55 – 14. East started their next possession at their own 13 yard line, but managed to push it out to the 42. Chris Appleton broke out and ran for a final East touchdown. Belvidere got the ball back with less than four minutes to go and pushed it ahead enough to run out the clock and finish the game 55 – 21 winners.
The crowd hadn’t even finished filing out of the stands before Coach Mike Hearn declared it Boylan Week. Boylan’s 55 – 0 pasting of Auburn gives them a 3 – 0 record and two more playoff points than the Bucs. Last season, the Bucs beat Boylan for the first time in eight years. This year the game will decide who is at the top of the NIC-9. The game begins Friday night at Funderburg Stadium at 7:15.