Bellefonte Football takes home Luther Trophy after 55-7 win over Mountaineers

Members of the Bellefonte High School team celebrate with the Luther Bowl Traditional Trophy, an award received by the winner of the annual Bellefonte-Philipsburg-Osceola high school football rivalry game. Bellefonte won this year, 55-7. (The Express/Tim Weight)

LOCK HAVEN — Bellefonte entered 2018 absent of its top two rushers from a season ago, but the ground game has yet to miss a beat.

The Red Raiders totaled 299 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the ground to bury the Philipsburg-Osceola Mountaineers, 55-7. The win increased Bellefonte’s record to 3-0.

“I thought we came out in the first quarter and a half and executed really well,” Bellefonte coach Shanon Manning said. “But I’ll be honest, we started jumping the gun with doing too many substitutions and it hurt the continuity of the game. And to P-O’s credit, they kept swinging.”

Bellefonte’s CJ Funk carried the ball 13 times for 139 yards and 3 touchdowns. It was Funk’s second 100-yard rushing game in just three games this season. He’s playing a new position this year, but Manning thinks Funk has adjusted well with his switch to tailback.

“He ran the football well,'” Manning said of Funk. “He’s a really good athlete and he’s still learning the system. This is all new stuff to him, and he’s learning the offense as we go.”

Funk took his first carry of the game up the field for 33 yards. It set up Kyle Myers’ 2-yard touchdown pass to Noah Badger to put Bellefonte ahead, 7-0. Myers finished the game throwing for 64 yards and three touchdowns.

“We were able to throw the ball and run the ball tonight,” Manning said. “When you can keep the ball, and mix it up like that fifty-fifty, you’re able to keep the defense off balance and that’s where you’re going to have some success.”

Bellefonte’s Caleb Rockey was relentless in the trenches. On P-O’s second drive, he bulldozed through the Mountaineers’ line for back-to-back sacks to force a punt. Bellefonte’s defense sacked Mountaineer quarterback Ryan Whitehead seven times. P-O was held to a season-low seven points.

“The defensive line is obviously anchored around Caleb,” Manning said. “We built a lot around Caleb and his skill set, and there’s a lot of sophomores [on the defensive line] playing there too. There’s three or four sophomores playing on the defensive line, as we’re really hanging our hat on a lot of young linemen.”

The Red Raiders defense kept P-O in check as its offense began to widen the lead.

Bellefonte’s Nick Catalano caped off a six play, 47-yard scoring drive with an 11-yard touchdown reception to extend Bellefonte’s lead, 14-0, with 3:51 remaining in the opening quarter. CJ Funk added an 11-yard touchdown run to stretch Bellefonte’s lead, 21-0, in the first.

Funk and Trae Bauman each added another rushing touchdown in the second to extend Bellefonte’s lead, 35-7, entering halftime. The Red Raiders scored on each of its first five possessions, and totaled more points (35) in the first half than they did all season.

In the third quarter, CJ Funk capped off the opening six-play 46-yard scoring drive with a 27-yard touchdown run to increase Bellefonte’s lead, 41-7. Later in the quarter, J.D. Besch recovered a loose ball in the end zone to widen Bellefonte’s lead, 48-7.

Sophomore running back Chris Paloskey ran for 55 yards on his first carry. The run set up a Noah Badger 2-yard touchdown reception for the game’s final score, sealing the game for the Raiders 55-7.

Bellefonte returns next week in an away matchup against Central Mountain (0-3). Bellefonte escaped last year’s meeting with a thrilling 34-31 triple overtime win over the Wildcats.

Manning expects another tough scrap with Central Mountain this season

“The way that it always seems to work out with Central Mountain is that it comes down to the last 20 seconds of every game,” Manning said. “I don’t know what it is with us and them, but we play each other in fantastic football games. So we’ll be back down in Lock Haven again next weekend and getting after Central Mountain and doing the best we can with them.”