The Tyrone football team lost to Bellwood-Antis 35-32 in double overtime Friday at Memorial Stadium in the Backyard Brawl. Here are four takeaways from the game.
FIRST DOWN: In spite of the loss, Tyrone, under Coach John Franco, moved the ball offensively as well as it has at any time since 2014 and 2015, which coincidentally are the last two seasons when the Eagles posted a record above .500.
Tyrone held the ball for eight offensive series in regulation, and four of them went for nine plays or more. The longest, a 17-play, 75-yard advance in the second quarter, resulted in the team’s first touchdown of the season to tie the game at 7-7. The Golden Eagles shortest drives, both consisting of three plays, each went for touchdowns, with payoffs coming on long scoring strikes. Noah Zimmerman broke a tackle near the line of scrimmage in the second and went 54 yards for a touchdown, while in the third Brandon Lucas found Damon Gripp on a short slant that turned into a 47-yard touchdown.
The key was Franco’s penchant for mixing things up and taking what the defense was giving. Of Tyrone’s 71 plays, 46 were running plays and 27 were passes. The Eagles churned out 23 first downs, and passed on first down six times.
Even more positive for Tyrone, the Devils forced the Eagles to punt only once, and that was at the end of a six-play drive in the fourth quarter that had gone 15 yards.
SECOND DOWN: Franco’s major critique of himself after the game was that he felt he had overloaded his players with too much to remember, both offensively and defensively.
If it was an issue on offense, it was hard to tell because the Eagles generated 360 yards of offense, which was their highest total since accumulating 388 last season against Bishop Carroll in Week 4.
If it showed on defense it may have been in Tyrone’s pass coverage, which allowed 145 passing yards and a touchdown from B-A quarterback Trevor Miller. The Eagles were burnt several times on short passes with soft coverage underneath, particularly in the first half. They gave up two long down-and-distance situations on B-A’s first drive, which resulted in a 2-yard touchdown run by Zach Mallon. The first went for 18 yards on third-and-11, while the other covered 22 yards on fourth-and-nine.
However, the Eagles were able to force a pair of turnovers and hold the Devils’ running game to 114 yards, despite B-A’s size advantage up front.
THIRD DOWN: Franco’s major concern with his team was a slew of minor injuries that cost players downs here and there.
None of the injuries were major, he said, but they took starters out of key places at important times, none more so than on an 87-yard kickoff return by Mallon that gave B-A a lead just seconds after Tyrone had tied the game in the fourth quarter.
“I’m really concerned with our injuries. We had so many kids banged up tonight,” Franco said after the game. “They weren’t cramps. They were some pretty bad bruises and things. Obviously you don’t have any control over that, but we’ll have to look and see why we’re getting hurt this much. I know we’re not real big, but still.”
FOURTH DOWN: Much like the other phases of the game, Tyrone’s special teams were up and down. The Eagles were never able to generate much in their return game, they allowed the touchdown run by Mallon on a kick return, and a squib kick near the end of the game gave B-A the ball at their own 47. Keegan Raabe also saw one kick following a second-quarter touchdown go out of bounds.
However, Raabe was perfect on extra-points, and he was able to split the uprights on a 20-yard field goal in the second overtime after missing one from 30 a series earlier.
Even when a snap from center went low following Tyrone’s second touchdown, holder Brandon Homan was able to turn it into points when he picked the ball off the turf and scooted in for a 2-point PAT.