November 12, 2010 - Memorial Field - Bellwood, PA
Bishop McCort's sophomore backup quarterback Zaine Tomkowski connected with Christian Leech on a 21 yard touchdown pass with 1:09 left in the game to tie the score at 29. Then Jordan Spangler kicked the extra point to give the Crushers a thrilling 30-29 victory over second seeded Bellwood-Antis. The Blue Devils outgained McCort 374-184 in total offense, but the Crushers took advantage of four turnovers, two of which were interception returns for touchdowns. Tomkowski was in the game because of an injury to junior Jesse Cooper who took a big hit in the second quarter and was unable to return to the game. He was taken to a local hospital and his status for next week is unknown.
On first down following the next kickoff, B-A hit a 52 yard pass to the McCort 24. Another first down pass took the ball to the 12. On the next play, quarterback Luke Evans was charged with intentional grounding which calls for a five yard penalty from the spot of the pass and a loss of down. Another Evans pass completion brought the ball to the 21 which should have set up a third down. But the game officials insisted that it was fourth-and-19. The Blue Devils next pass was completed just short of the first down marker and the Crushers took over and ran out the clock.
"I've been around a lot of great games and we've had some great teams here, but that was just an unbelievable win," said head coach Ken Salem. "Having a sophomore quarterback come in and throw a touchdown pass is just a tremendous accomplishment for these kids. I am so proud of them because not a lot of people have given us a chance, especially here tonight. When we lost our quarterback we could have folded and we could have made excuses. But our kids battled and I couldn't be more proud of these kids."
The Crushers took the opening kickoff and traveled down the field rather easily needing only six plays to cover 62 yards in 2:10. The big play of the drive was a 34 yard pass from Cooper to Patrick O'Reilly which put the ball on the B-A 26. Zach Varga carried the ball in from the one and Spangler's PAT kick made it 7-0. The Blue Devils struck almost as quickly with a six play drive of their own capped by a nine yard pass from Evans to Derek Denny. The two-point pass try was incomplete and the score was 7-6 with only five minutes played.
The next McCort drive stalled at the B-A 15, so Spangler kicked his 7th field goal of the season from 32 yards out to extend the lead to 10-7. The Blue Devils came back again with Andrew DeGol running it in from the seven on the first play of the second quarter. This time the two-point conversion was good for a 14-10 lead.
On second down of the Crushers' next possession, Cooper was leveled by a Blue Devil defender and had to leave the game. McCort had to punt on fourth down, but on the second play for B-A Varga picked off a pass and ran 50 yards into the endzone. With a new holder in the game, Spangler's PAT tried failed which set the score at 16-14. Another Bellwood drive was stopped by a turnover with Neil McAneny recovering a fumble at the Crushers' 27. LaRue continued in the wildcat formation and carried the ball on each play, but McCort could not consistently move the football and had to punt. Late in the first half, Leech intercepted a pass at the 33 and reached the endzone with Spangler's kick making the halftime score 23-14 in favor of the Crushers.
A Buddy Shaw 23 yard TD run in the third period and a two yard burst by Travis Taylor in the fourth put the Blue Devils ahead 29-23 with just 5:10 left in regulation. Tomkowski led the game winning drive which started at the Crushers' 36. Another big play in this drive was a 24 yard strike to Leech. Two short passes to LaRue and a 15 yard face mask penalty put the ball on the B-A 12. Tomkowski was sacked twice before his game winning throw.
"I thought we did a fairly good job running the wildcat after the injury" said Salem, "but we had the worst timing for penalties. LaRue was making plays, but each time he broke one it was called back. Bellwood was playing tough defense and they were focusing on what we were trying to do. It was just a great football game with two teams leaving it all out on the field. Through all the adversity we faced, we hung in there and found a way to win."
Salem was asked about his sophomore quarterback. "Zaine Tomkowski was unbelievable tonight. He didn't have a lot of game experience this year because of how tight and how competitive the Laurel Highlands Conference has been. We just thought they were keying too much on LaRue and we wanted to put Zaine in a position to make some throws. On the last play of the game coach (Kevin) Sheridan told Zaine that we were going to throw the fade route and he promised that if he got the ball to Leech that Christian would make the play."