SPRING MILLS — When Penns Valley rolled out the red carpet to Bald Eagle Area Friday night at Ram Stadium, the game featured a contest between two squads looking for late-season identity.
When the issue was decided, the Eagles had a much better idea where they were headed than the Rams did as they walked off the field with a 30-20 win.
“For the first time since 1994 or 1995 we have a chance to get to at least .500’” said BEA head coach Jack Tobias. “We have two tough games left and we certainly can’t look past Central next week. The guys did a great job tonight and you have to give them (Penns Valley) a lot of credit as well. They came out and played hard right for all four quarters and they didn’t give up right down to the final minute. We made some mistakes and had a few turnovers, but we talked about facing adversity, both in life and on the football field, and these guys pulled it together. They overcame those mistakes, came back and finished strong and I am very proud of them.”
The Eagles featured a potent ground attack on the legs of halfback Cody Ripka and quarterback Jeff Koleno that amassed a total of 315 yards and four touchdowns.
Although he didn’t find the end zone, Ripka led the bruising BEA ground attack with 223 yards on 44 carries.
“The line was blocking great and it was just a case of pretty much running it (the ball) down their mouth,” said Ripka. “I asked coach for the ball and I guess I got it a lot tonight. Jeff (Koleno) was doing a good job running the offense and with the line blocking as well as it did, it made things easy for us. Overall, it was just a great performance by us.”
Although he didn’t score, Ripka did the job of picking up crucial yardage when they called his number.
“They give me the ball a lot when it comes down to it (needing crucial yardage),” said Ripka. “Everyone was working their butt off, I just followed my blocks and as a result, I was able to get what I needed.”
Koleno stepped in at quarterback and did an outstanding job as he rushed for 63 yards while scoring all four BEA touchdowns. When he wasn’t running the ball, he was finding three different receivers for 110 yards.
“I just knew they were going to call my number at some point, and if nobody was open, I felt good about just pulling it down and taking off with it,” said Koleno. “We knew we were going to run the power early in the game and the line did an outstanding job blocking. We knew going in that we were going to give Ripka 30 or 40 carries and as long as we won, we didn’t care how many carries anybody had.”
When a team has a massive offensive numbers as the Eagles did, it is usually due to the “Hogs” up front, either opening holes or protecting the passer. In that area of the game, the Eagles were dominant.
“They (the offensive line) did a great job tonight,” said Jack Tobias. “We put some different stuff in our offense other than what we normally run and we also did some different blocking schemes with them. They picked it up and they executed it all week long in practice that carried over to tonight. We have all of our starters (linemen) back except one and I am excited about that. I thought we dominated in the trenches both offensively and defensively and that kept Penns Valley from getting their running game going. Credit both the offensive and defensive lines because I thought they did an awesome job tonight.”
Tobias was quick to point out what the leadership from the duo of Ripka and Koleno meant to the Eagles winning the game.
“Jeff (Koleno) is a nifty quarterback and he did a great job for us tonight, but I have to tip my hat to Cody as well,” Tobias said. “If he doesn’t get the ball more than seven times he complains about it. He guaranteed me that if I gave him the ball he would get the job done and he certainly did that tonight.”
With the win, BEA moves to 3-5 with two games remaining, while the loss for Penns Valley, the seventh in a row for the Rams, leaves them still searching for the elusive win to snap the streak at 1-7.
“They played hard, but other than that, I don’t have a lot to say,” said Penns Valley head coach Marty Tobias. “We are 1-7 at this point of the season. They were the better team tonight and the simple fact is that we couldn’t stop them.”
The Rams opened the scoring in the game when Sam Koser picked off a Cole Long pass and returned the theft for a “pick” six from 45 yards out.
However, after Koser’s touchdown scamper, the Eagles put the handwriting on the wall rather quickly as Koleno scored the first three of his quartet of six-pointers.
Ian Brown was on the receiving end of a 33-yard scoring pass from quarterback Sam Snyder for the Rams second score and Austin Auman capped the Penns Valley scoring for the night when he went in from eight yards out midway through the final period.
For the game, Snyder garnered 171 yards of total offense, 139 through the airways and another 32 on the ground. Auman led the Rams overland with 51 yards and the one score on eight totes.
Bald Eagle Area 7 7 7 9 — 30
Penns Valley 7 0 6 7 — 20
PV — Sam Koser 45 interception return. (Andrew Deardorff kick)(7:49)
BEA — Jeff Koleno 1 run. (Tyler Schall kick)(3:46.
BEA — Koleno 33 run. (Schall kick)(:46)
BEA — Koleno 3 run. (Schall kick)(6:39)
PV — Ian Brown 33 pass from Sam Snyder. (kick failed)(2:11.
Koleno 26 run (Schall kick)(9:49)
PV — Austin Auman 8 run (Deardorff kick)(6:22)
BEA — Safety (Penns Valley detected for holding in end zone)(9:49)
Team Statistics BEA PV
First Downs 19 12
Rushes-Yards 58-315 19-87
Passing Yards 110 152
Passing 5-9-2 11-28-1
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 4-1
Penalties-Yards 8-65 4-20
BEA: Cody Ripka 44-223, Jeff Koleno 7-63, 4 TDs; Matt Dillon 3-15, Nate Sharkey 3-14, Colby Peters 1-0.
PV: Austin Auman 8-51, 1 TD; Sam Snyder 10-32, Taylor Collison 1-4.
BEA: Jeff Koleno 6-7, 110 yards, 1 interception; Cole Long 0-2, 1 interception.
PV: Sam Snyder 11-28, 152 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception.
BEA: Colby Peters 3-50, Cody Ripka 2-37, Jonathan Romine 1-23.
PV: Sam Koser 3-41, Taylor Collison 3-35, Ian Brown 1-33, 1 TD; Luke Weaver 3-27, Derek Dasham 1-16.