TYRONE RALLIES TO DEFEAT P-O
Written by: WesternPAFootball Staff on Saturday, September 14th, 2019
Three years ago, in a game against a battered Tyrone team that had run out of offensive options following a series of injuries, Bellefonte toppled Tyrone 14-13 at Gray-Veterans Memorial Field.
It was significant for many reasons. For one, it was the Raiders’ first win over Tyrone since 1992.
But perhaps more important in the aftermath was the fact that the loss began to chip away at the perception of the Tyrone mystique. Before that game, the Eagles had lost to one of the four Centre County schools on their schedule just one time in 22 seasons. Since then it has happened four times.
Before then Tyrone had not finished a season under .500 since 1992. The Eagles have not finished above .500 since that season.
It’s doubtful that high school boys playing in the moment would view a singular game through that lens, but one thing is for sure: playing against Philipsburg-Osceola at Gray-Veterans Memorial Field last night, there is no way the current Golden Eagles wanted to make history in similar fashion.
Trying their best to halt a 43-game losing streak in Mountain League play, P-O played inspired football, charging to a nine-point lead at halftime, but in the end Tyrone was able to figure out the Mounties’ offense when it mattered most in a 22-16 victory that Coach John Franco said was emblematic of his team’s play through four games.
“These are good Tyrone kids. They don’t quit,” said Franco, whose team evened its record at 2-2 and improved to 2-1 in the Mountain League. “They keep coming back. We did it last week. We did it the week before. We did it against Bellwood. We’ve been down. We just keep coming back. Amazing.”
The victory was Tyrone’s second straight, raising the Eagles’ record to 2-2 overall and 2-1 in the Mountain League. In every game, Tyrone has found itself down, and in every game the Eagles have found a way to claw back, by hook or by crook.
“You figure things out when you have adversity like this, and it will make you better in the long run,” Franco said.
Against the Mounties, Tyrone was facing adversity from the word go, because P-O had a formula for moving the ball against the Golden Eagles not unlike Carroll, which amassed 367 yards the week before in Tyrone’s 28-20 win.
With junior quarterback Ryan Whitehead spearheading the offense, P-O controlled the tempo of the game in the first half, maxing the run and the pass effectively enough to churn out 225 of the Mounties’ 354 yards.
The result was a 16-7 lead that had Tyrone reeling by halftime.
“At halftime, we were all fired up,” said Tyrone quarterback Brandon Lucas. “We knew we needed to come out and make a stand, and that’s exactly what we did.”
Tyrone’s defense made three defensive stands throughout the course of the game that proved to be the difference, despite their troubles corralling Whitehead and his stable of backs and receivers.
The first came after Brandon Lucas had directed Tyrone’s offense for a third-quarter score that got the Eagles back into the game.
Starting at its own 40, Tyrone went 60 yards on six plays, including receptions of 15 and 10 yards by Damon Gripp, to score on a 3-yard run by Lucas at the 4:33 mark. The second of Keegan Raabe’s two PAT kicks pulled Tyrone to within 16-14.
Lucas completed 10 of 15 passes for 132 yards while running for 87 yards and three touchdowns.
“You could feel it. They had (momentum), and when they went down and scored and it was 16-14, you could just feel it,” said P-O coach Brian McGonigal, whose team fell to 1-3 overall and 0-3 in the league with its third consecutive loss. “We’re trying to keep the kids up and excited, but that’s on them as a team. They’ve got to learn from that and rally and say, next play, let’s go down and punch it in the end zone. We got it going there, but we had three drops that really hurt us.”
P-O responded with a drive that lasted into the fourth quarter and went as deep as Tyrone’s 13, but a delay of game penalty and two incompletions had the Mounties facing fourth-and-12 from the 18. Whitehead threw to Kaleb Stamm on the decisive play, but Matt Clifton was there to wrap him up for a 1-yard gain and end the advance.
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