BELLWOOD — Heartbreak. There was plenty of that here Friday night.
The undefeated, second-seeded Bellwood-Antis Blue Devils watched in dismay as Westmont Hilltop scored a touchdown with only 16 seconds left and then took advantage of a second two-point opportunity to stun the hosts, 29-28, in the District 6 Class 2A quarterfinals at Memorial Stadium.
“It’s painful,” veteran coach John Hayes said after talking to his team in the emotional B-A locker room. “They had a great year.
“They made a great effort tonight. The other team just made one more play at the end, and they’re to be commended.”
Bellwood jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first five minutes and led 21-7 after three quarters only to see the seventh-seeded Hilltoppers score 22 points in the final 12 minutes and stage the biggest upset of the D6 playoffs opening-night action.
Bellwood gained the No. 2 seed on the strength of a 10-0 record while Westmont checked in at No. 7 with a 6-4 mark.
“We told the kids all week nobody was talking about them or giving them any respect,” Westmont coach Pat Barron said. “We said they’d have to beat somebody to earn it and they did. They just kept digging and clawing.”
A 48-yard end-around by Ian McFarland and a 25-yard interception return by Nick Watters gave the Blue Devils a quick 14-0 lead and Thor Schmittle’s 3-yard TD made it 21-7 in the third quarter.
“We got up two scores a couple times, but (Westmont) didn’t give up, so that’s more on us,” Hayes said.
Westmont’s offense is often referred to as elephant-like. The Hilltoppers walk to the line of scrimmage and line up in a tight formation. They run the ball and seldom pass. In fact, they threw only 24 passes in the regular season. They threw four last night.
“It’s double-tight, double-wing,” Barron said. “Some people call us boring, but we’ll take it. We never apologize for being boring.”
Barron certainly didn’t have to apologize after his team’s remarkable comeback in the fourth quarter.
A pair of TD runs by Tucker Kushner tied it at 21-all with 6:17 remaining, but Bellwood responded and grabbed a 28-21 lead with 2:22 to play on a 19-yard run by Thor Schmittle.
“Hey, 2:22 and three timeouts is a lifetime,” Barron said. “That big screen pass (21 yards) to Adam Morzowski got us back to our normal offense.”
That pass took the ball to the B-A 43 and the Hilltoppers, aided by a couple penalties, moved the ball toward the goal line. With 16 seconds left, Cam Moors scored from the 4, pulling Westy to within 28-27.
Barron said there was no doubt he was going for the two-point conversion.
“We began talking about it in the third quarter,” he said. “I’m a gambler. I’ll always go for it.”
The Hilltoppers ran Moors wide, but the B-A defense stopped him short of the end zone. However, a face mask penalty against B-A pushed the ball near the goal and Moors, running off tackle, bolted into the end zone for two points and the victory.
“We got another crack at it and our offense is built for 2¢ yards, so it was a no-brainer what we were going to run there,” Barron said “It was our normal toss.”
“Their package is a little different than we’re used to and they executed very well,” Hayes said of the Westmont offense. “At the end of the game, they did their bread and butter and couple-yards us to death.
“A few penalties thrown in there didn’t help, either.”
Altoona Mirror Jim Lane