Beallsville limped into chill-filled Bill Jobko Stadium Friday night with three starters out for the season with injuries, but the banged-up Blue Devils bolted to a 29-0 advantage before holding off stubborn Bridgeport, 43-31, on the Perkins Field sod.
With the victory, Beallsville improves to 3-5 with games against Paden City and St. John Central remaining. It was the Blue Devils second consecutive triumph.
"We came out strong and were ready to play," first-year Beallsville head coach Paul Kanzigg said of the quick start. "We've got three starters out for the season, and I don't know how many kids we lost tonight, but the kids battled the entire game."
BEALLSVILLE’S Gage Steele looks to turn the corner for a big gain against Bridgeport Friday night at Perkins Field. The Blue Devils posted a 43-31 victory. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
One player the Blue Devils did lose was standout Gage Steele. The 5-11, 165-pound senior was on his way to a banner outing before injuring an ankle late in the first half. He had touchdown runs of 42 and 69 in the first quarter and finished with 146 stripes on just seven totes. He also ran for two points after the first TD and only had 208 yards entering the contest.
In addition, he snagged a 37-yard scoring strike from Teryn Jarrett on the first play of the second stanza, hiking the count to 29-0.
"He was having another fantastic game," Kanzigg said of Steele. "He told me that when he came down he heard something pop in his ankle.
"It was all swollen up, but he's a tough kid. We'll see how he is tomorrow."
Sandwiched in between Steele's scoring jaunts was a 34-yard interception return by senior defensive end Kyle Groves, who alertly plucked an ill-advised pass by Bridgeport quarterback Bailey McGrath out of the air and rambled to paydirt.
"He said he saw it coming," Kanzigg said of Groves' pick. "Kyle made a big play. This is his third year as a starter on defense, so he's got some experience and read the (screen) all the way."
The Bulldogs (2-6) finally got on the scoreboard when McGrath found Williams on an 11-yard scoring connection.
Beallsville came right back as Bruce Sefert hauled in a 11-yard pass from Jarrett and turned it into six points. Mason Campbell's fourth of five PATs made it 36-6 with less than 30 seconds remaining in the first half.
However, that proved to be enough time for the hosts as they found the end zone on the final play of the half. McGrath rolled right and fired a strike to Fields in the flat.
The fleet-footed senior split a pair of would-be tacklers and raced into the end zone. The two-point pass failed, leaving the hosts on the short end of a 36-12 margin.
Fields, who finished with a game-high 160 stripes on an even 20 carries, broke off a 45-yard gainer on the first play of the second half.
On the next play, QJ Williams took a handoff around left end for 17 yards and six points. Gabriel Bogoni split the uprights and the Bulldogs were within 17, 36-19.
After an exchange of punts, Beallsville marched 68 yards on 11 plays on a drive that carried over into the fourth quarter. The Blue Devils ate up 6:46 of clock time as Ricky Tubaugh swept around right end from 29 yards out. Campbell made it 43-19.
To its credit, Bridgeport didn't quit as Fields ran in from two yards out and McGrath fired his third TD pass of the game, this one to Colt Charlton from eight yards. Both two-point conversions failed.
"It just started out bad and things just rolled the wrong way," Bridgeport head coach Rudy Vavrock said of the game's start. "We could never overcome that.
"The kids battled from the second quarter on, but unfortunately, a football game is four quarters and we didn't play four tonight.
"We adjusted a little bit at the half to do what they were doing, and it worked," Vavrock noted. "But we've got be able to play four full quarters."
Beallsville totalled 358 yards of total offense to 338 for Bridgeport. Jarrett was 9-for-19 for 119 yards, two TDs and two INTs. McGrath finished 6 of 17 for 110 stripes, three TDs and a pair of picks.
Ashley Hadzima selected the odd-colored rose during halftime festivities to be crowned 2012 Homecoming queen.
Bridgeport remains home next week as state-ranked and unbeaten Shadyside visits.