Unbeaten Beth-Center decks Frazier
Frazier was hoping history would repeat itself Friday when the Commodores met undefeated Beth-Center, but it wasn't meant to be this season.
Frazier knocked off the Bulldogs 21-14 at Beth-Center last year, but there was no repeat Friday at Commodore Stadium.
The Bulldogs staked their claim to the Tri-County South Conference and moved to 7-0 overall and in conference play with a 39-28 victory.
The Commodores jumped to a quick 14-0 lead in the first quarter behind the gunslinging Charlie Manack, who found Nathan Zurich for a 44-yard touchdown and hit Dakota Hixson for an 11-yard touchdown in the first seven minutes of the game.
“I don't really know what happened, our foot kind of went off the gas,” Frazier coach Mike Steeber said. “We knew that couldn't happen and that this was going to be a four-quarter game.”
The Bulldogs capitalized with 23 unanswered points.
Beth-Center finally answered with 3:25 left in the first when Anthony Welsh raced in from 10 yards out to make it 14-7. After holding Frazier on a fourth-and-13 from the Bulldogs' 26-yard line, Beth-Center made its statement by marching 78 yards in 15 plays over the next seven minutes. The drive was capped off by Jason Stay's one-yard touchdown run.
“We knew we had to run it effectively because we had to keep their offense off the field,” Bulldogs coach Ed Woods said. “Manack is dangerous when he's on the field, so we wanted to keep them on the sidelines.”
The Commodores (5-2, 5-2) helped the Bulldogs in the scoring column when a bad snap on a punt traveled out of the end zone for a safety.
Then it was the special teams coughing up points.
Frazier's allowed Beth-Center's Nico Brown to return the ensuing free kick 58 yards for a touchdown to give the Bulldogs' a 23-14 halftime lead.
The heavy-hearted Brown, whose grandfather died Thursday, wasn't done. He returned the opening kickoff of the second half 86 yards for another touchdown.
“We knew there was some extra emotion out there for Nico,” Woods said. “The whole team wanted to play with a little extra tonight. He had a tremendous game and played a big role for us.”
Manack and the Commodores bounced back when he hooked up with Hixson again, this time from 26 yards out. The Frazier defense responded with a stand on its 3-yard line, holding the Bulldogs on fourth down, but Manack was quickly sacked in the end zone for another safety.
The Bulldogs responded with a 54-yard, eight-play drive that ended with Welsh bursting in for a 3-yard touchdown with 8:31 left in the game.
“Anthony ran the ball well once he got rolling,” Woods said. “We knew not to take it for granted with their offense, though.”
The Commodores again rode the arm of Manack, who completed 20 of 32 passes for 366 yards. Manack found Zurich again in the back of the end zone for a 12-yard score with 4:56 to play. The two-point conversion made it 39-28.
A last gasp on a pooch kick came up empty and the Bulldogs were able to run out the clock.
“This is exactly the kind of game we expected,” Woods said. “I'm not all into the revenge thing. It was a big game for us. We set out to win the conference and to do that we had to come in and win.”
Steeber said the next week will say a lot about his team.
“How we bounce back from this is going to be really important,” he said. “We needed to win this one to put us in a good position for a conference title, but now we need to make sure we get ourselves into the playoffs. We have two games left, one in conference ... we need to make sure we go out and do what we have to do.”
The Commodores host Vincentian Academy in an exhibition game Friday, while Beth-Center will travel to Avella.
GAME NOTES: Welsh finished with 122 yards on 24 carries while Stay finished with 100 yards on 12. ... Beth-Center was penalized for 95 yards. ... Frazier offensive lineman Daniel Leonard left the game with an apparent knee injury in the first half and did not return.
Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-684-2667.