Nov. 24, 2012
District 9 Class A Title Game at Bradford High School

Photo by Paul Burdick - http://pburdick.smugmug.com  

Nick Conway picks off his second pass of the game in the second half Saturday. Conway also has 203 yards receiving and three touchdowns setting the District 9 championship game single-game receiving record in the process. Clarion's Cody Hearst was the intended receiver. Hearst had a pair of interceptions of his own.

Photo by Shawn Murray – www.shawnmurrayphotography.com


By Andy Close and Chris Rossetti  

BRADFORD – Who ever said you can’t throw the ball in bad weather?

On a snow-covered Parkway Field in Bradford, Matt Bodamer threw a 68-yard bomb to Nick Conway on the first play from scrimmage and Port Allegany was off to the races in a 47-8 win over Clarion in the District 9 Class A Championship game Saturday.

“We decided all week that we were going to let Matt take a shot on the first play of the game, and Nick just ran past his defender,” said Port Allegany coach Mike Bodamer. “It was a nice play to set the tone of the game.”

The play appeared to catch Clarion off guard considering the snow-covered field, and Conway ended up in single man-to-man coverage with Antonio Troese.

“Yes and No,” Clarion head coach Larry Wiser said when asked if the Gators starting the game in a snow storm with a bomb surprised him. “Yes, because of the weather and no because I thought at some point they would have.”

The touchdown set the tone for the game and what was one of the most anticipated District 9 title games in recent memory turned into the most lopsided Class A championship tilt in D9 history and also the first time a Class A school repeated as champs since Coudersport in 2005 and 2006.

“That was our goal,” Mike Bodamer said.

It was also a record-setting day for Conway, who set a District 9 championship-game record with 203 receiving yards. His three touchdown receptions gave him 22 for the season, also a district record. He wasn’t too shabby on defense, either, intercepting Clarion QB John Katis twice.

“They kind of switched it up,” Conway said of the coverage he saw from the Bobcats. “They had man in front of me in the first half and they had a guy over the top in the second half.”

Neither seemed to work, as Matt Bodamer and Conway consistently connected for big plays in the passing game.

In building a 33-0 halftime advantage, the duo connected on another big scoring play over the top for 49 yards. 

That was sandwiched between a couple of sustained drives of 12 and nine plays by Port Allegany that culminated in a pair of touchdown runs from Bodamer.

“Nick (Budd) has those boys up front working well and that was no surprise,” said Mike Bodamer of his team’s ability to control the line of scrimmage.”

In fact, what was most telling was Clarion’s inability to get its vaunted ground-game going against Port Allegany’s defense. 

The Bobcats, who came into the game averaging 253.7 yards per game on the ground, were limited to just 106 yards rushing, just 13 of which came in the first half. The snow and slick track seemed to play a factor in not allowing Clarion to get to the edges where a lot of its running has been this year.

“No question, our horizontal game was off,” Wiser said. “Our timing was off trying to get some pulls on those jet sweeps and counters.”

Victor Bandish and Budd were largely responsible for that, with Bandish finishing with 11 tackles, including two tackles for loss, and Budd with five tackles, 1.5 for loss.

“The conditions I think did a little bit of that (limiting the running game,” coach Bodamer said. “They rely a lot on the outside sweep and the counter play and with this kind of traction it’s kind of tough to run those plays. But give credit to our kids, they played well up front.”

Clarion had its chances having three first-half possessions inside the Port Allegany 30-yard line but coming away empty turning the ball over twice at the Gator 21 on downs and also throwing an interception on a play that started at the Port Allegany 27.

“I think that was big,” Wiser said. “They got up 14-0 and I thought we got out of our game. We got out of our game plan. If you get into a horse race, this is a bad horse to get into the race with.”

Offensively, the Port Allegany proved equally adept at running the ball, as they got another big game on the ground from junior Tyler Shaffer.

Shaffer, who was averaging over 13 ypc coming in, was as advertised, carrying the ball eight times for 106 yards, including a nifty 48-yard TD run to close out a first half that saw the Gators put up 309 yards of offense. 

“There were a lot of guys on defense going with the flow of the play and we have a great line and Conway did a great job of sealing the edge,” Shaffer said of his touchdown run. 

The second half saw Port Allegany put the Mercy Rule in affect for the 11th time in 12 games this season, as Matt Bodamer scooped up a T.J. Armstrong fumble and raced 30 yards for a touchdown, his fourth defensive score of the season.

“Matt doesn’t make a lot of tackles but he does make some big plays on defense,” Mike Bodamer noted. “He steps up to the plate when he needs to.”

Matt Bodamer’s touchdown marked just the second time in District 9 championship-game history the Mercy Rule went into effect – the other was in 2010 in Class AA – and the first time since 2006 Clarion was Mercy Ruled (it was the first time since 2004 the Bobcats were Mercy Ruled by a District 9 opponent).

“We just didn’t seem to get our mojo going today,” Wiser said. “They kids came in with a good attitude. We were excited. Whether it was the first play or what, but we didn’t play with a lot of confidence.”

Matt Bodamer and Conway connected once more in the second half, as Conway took a screen pass on third down and showed off his state-class speed, going 54 yards for the score.

Camron Kirkland helped Clarion avoid a shutout with a 33-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter.

“I know some people were nervous about the game, but we were well prepared defensively and were able to put up a zero until late,” said Matt Bodamer, who threw for 262 yards and rushed for 60 more.

It was a disappointing end for Clarion, which won 12 games in a season for the first time in program history.

“I’m pretty proud of what we accomplished,” Wiser said. “I’m pretty proud of how these kids played all year. They worked hard all season.”

Next up for the Gators is Sharpsville, a rematch of last season’s PIAA Class A quarterfinal that saw the Blue Devils rally from a 27-7 deficit to stun the Gators, 35-33. It’s a fortunate Port Allegany hopes to reverse in 2012.

“We’re not going to let is pass,” Matt Bodamer said of the opportunity to exact a measure of revenge on Sharpsville. “We should have won that game last year and we are going to do everything in our power to win this year.”

NOTES: The previous record for largest margin of victory in a Class A title game was 33 in Coudersport’s 41-8 win over Curwensville in 2004 ... Bodamer has now thrown for 3,519 yards this season, 305 yards shy of Derek Buganza’s single-season state record ... His 49 touchdown passes on the season put him just three behind South Fayette’s Christian Brumbaugh for the single-season state record. Brumbaugh had 52 in 2010 … The previous record for receiving yards in a District 9 title game was 165 on five catches by Coudersport’s Steve Brink in 2001. Brockway’s Mike Vervoort holds the District 9 postseason receiving record with 224 in a Class AA semifinal game in 2009 … Conway’s 200-yard receiving game is the 13th 200-yard receiving game in District 9 since 2000 … Cody Hearst had a pair of interceptions of Bodamer for Clarion, noteworthy considering the Port Allegany senior quarterback had thrown just three interceptions all season coming into the game … Clarion was 0-for-10 on third-down conversions in the game while Port Allegany went 4-for-7.  The Bobcats were 2-for-5 on fourth down.


Score by Quarters

Clarion 0 0 0 8 – 8

Port Allegany 14 19 7 7 – 47

Scoring Summary

First Quarter

P – Nick Conway 68 pass from Matt Bodamer (Scott Brookens kick), 11:46

P – Matt Bodamer 5 run (Brookens kick), 5:26

Second Quarter

P – Bodamer 1 run (Brookens kick), 9:33

P – Conway 49 pass from Bodamer (Kick failed), 8:21

P – Tyler Shaffer 48 run (Pass failed), 4:38

Third Quarter

P – Bodamer 30 fumble return (Brookens kick), 7:53

P – Conway 54 pass from Bodamer (Brookens kick), 9:45

C – Camron Kirkland 33 run (Damien Slike run), 6:23

                                                C         PA

First Downs                            8          18

Rushes-Yards                          35-106 29-151

Passing Yards                         110      262

Passing: Comp-Att-Int            5-18-2  12-19-2

Total Yardage                         216      413

Punts-Avg.                              5-32.4  3-25.0

Fumbles-Lost                          2-1       2-0

Penalties-Yards                       6-50     2-15


Rushing – Clarion: Camron Kirkland 6-46, T.J. Armstrong 8-18, Tyler Allen 2-16, Damien Slike 9-14, Ian Corbett 8-11, Destin Strauser 1-5, Team 1-minus 4. Port Allegany: Tyler Shaffer 8-106, Matt Bodamer 10-53, Trent Neal 6-9, Chad Gaines 1-4, Jordan Seefeldt 2-minus 10, Team 2-minus 11.

Passing – Clarion: John Katis 5-for-17, 110 yards, 2 interceptions. Antonio Troese 0-for-1. Port Allegany: Matt Bodamer 12-for-18, 262 yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions. Jordan Seefeldt 0-for-1.

Receiving – Clarion: Ian Corbett 2-55, Cody Hearst 2-32, Camron Kirkland 1-23. Port Allegany: Nick Conway 7-203, Tyce Miller 2-34, Rickie Bova 2-29, Tyler Shaffer 1-minus 4.

Interceptions – Clarion: Cody Hearst 2. Port Allegany: Nick Conway 2.