Published 1:56 am Sunday, September 5, 2010
There’s no way to put a “happy face” on a 34-12 loss, and first-year Pearl River Central Blue Devil head coach Eric Collins did not mince any words in his post-game comments here in Lumpkin-Magee Stadium Friday night, following the loss to the Bearcats.
And Bearcat QB Anthony D’Angelo was, no doubt, the difference, the key to the Bearcat win.
Take him out of the calculation, and the Blue Devils probably win. D’Angelo hit seven strikes for 147 yards in the air. Two strikes were for touchdowns, one for 64 yards and another for 40 yards, both to receiver Patric Devlin.
D’Angelo was injured last week, and sat out the second half of last week’s game, but seemed fully recovered and 100 percent Friday.
But Collins didn’t make any excuses: “Overall, you’re not going to win when you make as many mistakes as we made. We did not block nor tackle well, and we had too many penalties. In addition, we did not execute like we should have.”
The loss dropped the Blue Devils to 1-2, heading into a clash Friday with Bay High, and was a disappointment to the team and fans, just coming off a 28-7 win last week over Poplarville that broke a 13-game losing streak. Blue Devil fans, hoping for wins back-to-back, packed out the visitor’s side here Friday.
The Bearcats moved up to 2-1.
The Bearcats were large, and D’Angelo, a senior, picked the Blue Devils apart with his passing attack, that came at strategic moments when the Bearcats running game faltered.
The Blue Devils offense generated respectable yardage and made some substantial drives, which the Devils could not, unfortunately, manage to convert into TDs, and, of course, the Devil defense couldn’t shut down D’Angelo.
Said Bearcat head coach Tommy Browder, “Really, despite the score, they (the Blue Devils) did real well with their offense. That’s the first time we have seen that type of offense. (The Blue Devils run a wing T.) We were able to shut them down, but the first half scared us. We were fortunate that D’Angelo was able to start for us this week; he was injured last week.”
Definitely, fortune was at Browder’s side. And it’s name was D’Angelo.
D’Angelo missed the last half of last week’s loss to Hancock and was questionable for the Blue Devil start. But he didn’t look unhealthy here Friday night, at all, dancing around in the backfield like a gazelle.
The Blue Devils’ offense generated 221 yards rushing. Long Beach had only 112 yards rushing. But D’Angelo hit seven shots for 147 yards and two TDs, 64-yard and 40-yard strikes. That was the difference.
The Blue Devils almost drew first blood when junior running back Trey Wynn scooped up the opening kick off on his 10 and raced to the Bearcat 40. The Blue Devils drove to the Bearcat 14 in 10 plays, but the drive sputtered, and kicker Austin Creel missed a 31-yard field goal attempt.
Despite the loss, Wynn, a junior, 210-pound runningback, still managed to get 82 yards on 10 carries.
The first Bearcat TD came at 9:43 in the second quarter, when D’Angelo hit wide receiver Patrick Devlin for a 40-yard pass play. Ryan Maniccia’s kick was good: 7-0 Bearcats.
The Bearcats added a second TD at 6:40 with a 11-yard dash by tailback Milton Britton. Maniccia’s kick was good. 14-zip Bearcats.
The Blue Devils then put together a 10-play, 55-yard drive to pull within a TD of Long Beach when QB Steven Kubicki sneaked over from the one, capping the drive. Creel’s kick missed and it was 14-6, Long Beach, with 1:27 left in the first half.
Next came the nightmare: Bearcat wide receiver Chad Cook took the Blue Devil kickoff on his own 15, ran to the right, and on about the 40 got caught in a mass of Blue Devils, twisted out, reversed field and raced for a Bearcat third TD on an 85-yard kickoff return.
Maniccia’s kick missed, and with 1:07 left in the 2nd quarter, only 20 seconds after the Blue Devils first score, it was 20-6, which is the way the first-half ended.
Then, after the half-time break, on the second play of the third quarter, D’Angelo uncorked a 64-yard pass play to wide receiver Patric Devlin. Devlin nabbed both of D’Angelo’s big aerial shots. Maniccia’s kick was good, and it was 27-6 Bearcats at 11:08 in the third quarter.
Next, PRC put together its best drive on a 12-play, 70-yard drive, capped by a three-yard plunge by wingback Lee Pullens. QB Dylan Spiers’ pass to split end Zack Mitchell for a two-point conversion failed. It was 27-12, Bearcats, with 11:55 remaining in the fourth stanza.
The Bearcats’ last score came at 8:03 in the fourth period on an 11-play, 55-yard drive, capped by a one-yard plunge by tailback John Rushing. Maniccia’s kick was good. It was 34-12, Bearcats.
The Blue Devils drove back down to the Bearcats 10 in the closing seconds of the game but were unable to cover that last 10 yards to paydirt before the buzzer sounded.