Devils push Ligonier to the limit

Special teams cost B-A in semis


Scott Plank

Nick Plank and the Blue Devils came close to springing the upset of the season when they nearly defeated Ligonier Valley last week.

Travis Luensmann, Sports Writer

The Bellwood-Antis football team ended its season Saturday night in a 21-20 loss to Ligonier Valley in the District 6 2A semifinals.

It was close the entire way through, with no lead being greater than 8 points throughout four quarters of play, but in the end it was decided in large part on three uncharacteristic special teams miscues by the Devils.

Scott Plank
Trevor Miller had a big touchdown pass late to pull B-A within a point of Ligonier.

“I thought our overall performance was pretty good.  We were playing the number two team in the state,” said B-A coach Nick Lovrich.  “We challenged our players that they had to be more physical, more tuned in, and more confident than they had been all year and I think our play speaks for itself that they did those things.  We forced them into mistakes, we pushed them to their limit, and they come out ahead.”

Bellwood actually led after the first quarter 6-0 after a 10-yard touchdown reception from Owen Shedlock, but the extra point was missed.

Before the half, Ligonier came back with a touchdown pass from Sam Sheeder to Matthew Marinchack and led the Blue Devils 7-6 going into the third. Coming out strong, Ligonier Valley increased its lead to 14-6 after another passing touchdown from Sheeder to Marinchak, to make it 14-6 heading into the fourth.

Bellwood, now down to its last quarter, answered with a 1-yard rushing touchdown by Zach Mallon and a successful 2-point conversion attempt, tying the score 14-14.

Ligonier then went downfield on its next possession for seven points on a 5-yard run by Kyrie Miller. The score now went to 21-14 with 6:18 left to go.

Senior Trevor Miller went on to complete a 65-yard touchdown pass to put the score at 21-20, with the 6:02 to play and the extra point still on the way. However, Ligonier blocked the extra point and the score remained 21-20, and the Rams ran out the clock to win the game, but not before B-A advanced as far as Ligonier’s 12 latein the fourth.

However, after missing two extra-points and having a field goal blocked, B-A opted to go for the touchdown on fourth down, and the Rams’ defense was up to the task.

“I think Ligonier Valley’s size up front hurt us in our field goal/extra point teams.  The type of blocking that you use on those plays is more passive than regular offensive blocking.  Our regular offense is a lot more aggressive blocking,” Coach Lovrich said.  “On the extra point blocking if you block the same way, you create seams for the defense to penetrate.  Sometimes the other team makes plays and that is what happened on Saturday night. ”

The Ram’s defense also accounted for a fumble and four interceptions, one of their greatest performances on the year. Offensively, senior Sheeder threw for 204 yards on 13-of-19 attempts, while also rushing for 77 on 11 carries. Their lead rusher, though, was Miller, who had 107 yards on the night.

For Bellwood, Miller threw for 191 yards on 11-of-27 attempts.

“It was a hard fought game. We made a couple crucial mistakes that the other team capitalized on,” said Miller.

The Bellwood defense accounted for 2 interceptions, both by Mallon.

With the win, Ligonier Valley now advances to the district 6 2A championship against Richland, a rematch from last year’s championship game.

B-A ended its season 11-1 and will have to find a way to replace a senior class that never lost a conference game.

“Our seniors class all bought into their roles during the season, whether it was for every play of a game or 10 plays a game,” Coach Lovrich said. “They had great attitudes and worked hard to make us the best team we could be.  They set the tone for the season by the leadership they showed.  They will all be greatly missed next season.  I am sure that they will make a positive impact in their next steps of their lives.”