BELLWOOD - The high-powered Bellwood-Antis offense, averaging nearly 40 points a game, never really got into gear Friday night. The defense, well, that was a different story.
The Blue Devils couldn't muster any points until the final seconds of the first half but the defense was rock-solid all game and paved the way for a 21-0 shutout victory over Mount Union in an Inter-County Conference Gold Division matchup at Memorial Stadium.
"We hung in there," said Bellwood coach John Hayes, whose team remained unbeaten at 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the division. "We bent, but didn't break, and were able to get some points on the board."
And those points started with a turning-point defensive play by Bellwood senior Dan Beech, who recovered a Mount Union fumble at the Trojans' 42-yard line with a little over two minutes left in the second quarter. Junior Casey Gray's 1-yard dive into the end zone capped a nine-play drive with just 20 seconds on the clock, sending the Blue Devils into the locker room with a 7-0 advantage.
Bellwood's defense limited Mount Union to just four first downs and less than 100 yards of total offense - including just one yard on the ground - in the first half.
Gray, one of the region's top running backs, earned every one of his 126 yards on the ground. He managed just 49 yards on 14 carries in the first half, lost a pair of fumbles, and didn't have a run longer than 11 yards. Gray didn't find much more running room in the second half but was able to close out his night with his longest carry of the game, a 20-yard touchdown run with 2:25 left in the fourth quarter. He finished with 126 yards on 29 carries, while the entire team netted just 165 yards on 45 carries.
IF YOU GO
* Mount Union hosts Northern Bedford Friday
"I thought that we limited his big plays," Mount Union coach Corey Wertz said of Gray. "I don't care what the scoreboard says, I felt that our kids played a great game. That's a good (Bellwood) team and for our guys to hang in there with them; I can't ask for anything more from our kids."
Mount Union fell to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the ICC Gold Division.
After a Bellwood punt pinned Mount Union deep in its own territory late in the third quarter, the Blue Devils defense came up big once again. The Trojans were forced to punt following three short running plays and on the first play from scrimmage, Bellwood senior quarterback Seth Worthing hit Cameron Worthing with a 33-yard TD pass to give the Blue Devils a 14-0 lead.
"We made some plays in the second half that opened it up a bit," Hayes said. "Mount Union played an outstanding game defensively and made it pretty hard for us to do the things we like to do. We had a hard time breaking the line of scrimmage and they had the speed to slow us down."