Golden Bears Down Injury-Riddled LHU
Kutztown Downs Injury-Riddled Bald Eagles
By BILL ALBRIGHT
EasternPAFootball.com/WesternPAFootball.net Senior Writer
LOCK HAVEN — For the first 20 minutes of Saturday’s PSAC-East football matchup between Kutztown and Lock Haven, the boys were as good as the men with the Golden Bears holding a slim 14-10 edge over the Bald Eagles.
However, from that point on, KU tallied 34 of the next 36 points put on the scoreboard to pull away for a 48-12 lead before walking off the field with a 55-26 win.
Not only are the Bald Eagles having a tough time competing with some of the ranked teams in the PSAC, they are faced with the task of attempting to do just that with a team that in this point of the season resembles somewhat of a MASH unit.
“We are getting paid back a little bit in 2017 for our fortunate 2016 season last year.” said LHU head coach Dave Taynor. “We stayed pretty well injury free last year while this year we have had to face quite a few (injuries).”
Following a KU score less than three minutes into the game, LHU placekicker Nick Boumerhi was good from 20 yards out for a field goal to cut the KU lead to 7-3.
The Golden Bears scored again when Evan Culver capped an 8-play, 57-yard drive from one yard out for the six-pointer. Culver made the most noise for the Bears with 147 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Answering the Culver score, LHU running back John Ford scored his first of two touchdowns from five yards out to again cut the KU lead to 14-10, but that was as close as the Bald Eagles would get to their conference foes for the rest of the afternoon.
Five minutes into the final period, Ford tallied his second six-pointer with a 7-yard run to paydirt, giving him the pair of touchdowns as he continues to round back into shape from an early season injury.
“In both of my scores we had a guy coming across pulling out the outside linebacker and from there, the offensive line just took over and I just ran over the safety on both of them,” explained Ford.“
Following finishing 2016 with a strong stretch of games, Ford encountered the injury “bug” that kept him on the sidelines, a place where he really didn’t want to be.
“It was kind of frustrating for me so I had to believe in the guys behind me to get the job done while I wasn’t in there,” said Ford. “It is kind of day-by-day process for me, making sure that I am getting to the chiropractor to get my treatment so that hopefully I can get back to where I was last year at this time.”
Special teams many times play an important part in the flow of a game, and in the loss, the Bald Eagles made that happen twice when Carlos Balkcom took a blocked PAT attempt to the house for two points before later cashing in on a good defensive play when he picked KU quarterback Chris Kane’s pocket for a 51-yard “pick six”.
“We were in cover two and I knew the quarterback wasn’t going to look me off because he stared off his receivers,” explained Balkcom. “I jumped of the out (the coverage), made a play and was off to the races.”
“He (Balkcom) has done a pretty good good job of it throughout the year,” said Taynor. “He has had a nose for the ball, he has made some plays and I am happy for him.”
As for returning a blocked kick to the house, Balkcom said it was a first for him.
“It was my first time ever to do that and it was kind of a weird play,” said Balkcom. “It was like OK, I have the ball in my hands so I have to do something with it. It was definitely exciting for me.”
For Balkcom, it was a matter of him being able to outrace several Golden Bear special teamers for 80 yards to the end zone.
“I could hear his foot steps,” he said about his closest competitor. “I was trying to kick it up, but I lost some gas about the 10-yard line. I heard him all the way but I also heard that his footsteps started to slow down so I knew I had it.”
Despite the loss, Taynor liked what he saw from his troops in the fourth quarter when they put up 14 of their game total of 26 points.
“I thought our guys fought well in the fourth quarter considering that we are razor thin right now,” Taynor said. “We’ll come back in tomorrow (Sunday), get ourselves prepared for Team 9 (Bloomsburg) and try to play the spoiler role a little bit. We have a couple of opportunities the next two weeks when we play teams that are tied for the top spot in the conference. It will be good experience for us as well as give some of the young guys an opportunity to get out there and play.”
Once again, a number of local athletes stuck their noses into the game and made some plays, led by former Williamsport Millionaire Elliott Walker who is becoming a bigger part of the LHU receiving game with six catches for 84 yards.
Joining Walker was his teammate at WAHS, Jalen Jackson, as Jackson was credited with four catches for 20 yards. Completing the trio of locals was former Central Mountain standout Cole Renninger who caught three balls for 27 yards.
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