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RAIDERS RUN OVER TYRONE

Written by: on Sunday, September 22nd, 2019

 

John Franco has been coaching football since the 1980s, and he hasn’t seen many running backs like Bellefonte’s CJ Funk.

One came to mind in the week leading up to the Tyrone’s game last night against the Red Raiders at Gray-Veterans Memorial Field, one Franco was quite familiar with.

That back is Jesse Jones, who from 1998 through 2000 ran for nearly 7,000 yards for Tyrone, leading the Golden Eagles to a PIAA title in 1999.

“I said that last week. He’s very similar. Very similar,” Franco said after watching Funk plow through his defense for 162 yards and four touchdowns on only 12 carries in Bellefonte’s 55-10 victory.

“That’s a heck of an offensive line, and that running back is as good as any I have seen in a long time,” Franco said.

While Funk’s numbers this season, on the heels of a 1,400-yard campaign as a junior, are incredible – he’s averaging 15 yards per carry – the truth is on a night like last night he was just one cog in a rushing machine whose parts seemed at times almost interchangeable.

The Raiders ran for 332 yards against Tyrone, averaging 8.5 yards a pop, and broke nine runs for 20 yards or more. Eleven backs got carries for Bellefonte, and seven of them had at least one carry for 15 yards or more.

That’s a heck of an offensive line, and that running back is as good as any I have seen in a long time

Coach John Franco

Against a weary defense that was forced to play mix-and-match again this week after suffering a series of injuries to starters since Week 2, it was a train wreck waiting to happen. Tyrone started a completely new linebacking corps after Noah Zimmerman and Corey Beck were lost to injuries a week ago, shifting defenders from one position to another in a week’s time, and the inexperience showed.

Funk had 117 yards on the ground by the end of the Raiders’ second series, keeping he game from ever being close.

“Our offense becomes more about who’s getting the ball as opposed to exactly who’s getting the ball, meaning by position,” said Bellefonte coach Shannon Manning, whose team improved to 4-1 and remained undefeated in Mountain League play at 3-0. “The way the offense is geared, it goes through certain positions, and when we put the kids in, if they know what they’re doing, they’re able to execute and we’ll still pick up yardage.”

The Raiders got yardage in huge chunks on their first possession thanks to Funk, after they ended a promising Tyrone drive that reached as far as Bellefonte’s 26. Funk went for 26 yards on his first carry to get the ball on the plus side of the 50, Ethan Rossman converted on fourth-and-11 with a 15-yard pass to Nicholas Capparelle, and Funk punctuated the march with a 20-yard touchdown run. The first of seven PAT kicks by Nick Persiko made it 7-0.

Runs of 24 and 16 yards by Funk on Bellefonte’s next drive got the Raiders to the 15 before he zipped in from the 10 for a 14-0 advantage.

Funk then returned a punt 64 yards in the second quarter to get the ball to the 12, setting up a 1-yard touchdown pass from Rossman to Isiah Nadolsky.

“It came down to we couldn’t stop their running game,” said Franco, whose team fell to 2-3 overall and 2-2 in the Mountain League. “And that opens up all their passes because we’ve got eight and nine guys committed to the run, and we still couldn’t stop them.”

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