Blue Devils advance to state tournament

Last updated: November 16. 2013 3:46PM - 1356 Views
TOM FOX For the Sunday Dispatch

The Old Forge Blue Devils burst through the cheerleaders' banner prior to the District 2 Class A title game against Dunmore Friday night in Dunmore.
The Old Forge Blue Devils burst through the cheerleaders' banner prior to the District 2 Class A title game against Dunmore Friday night in Dunmore.
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The pictures served as a reminder.

Pinned up in the Old Forge weight room were portraits of Dunmore celebrating on the Blue Devils’ home field last season, a 7-6 slugfest for the 2012 District 2 Class A title. Underneath was a quote that read, “How bad do you want it?”

“I guess we proved how bad we wanted it,” Old Forge quarterback Jake Manetti said.

No doubt.

Old Forge dominated undefeated Dunmore as senior back Brandon Yescavage rushed for 227 yards and three scores, winning the district title 27-7 over the Bucks.

The District 2 champion Blue Devils move on to play the winner of Saturday night’s District 4 final between Southern Columbia and South Williamsport in the state tournament next week.

“We knew it would be a physical game, and the game plan early was to establish the run,” Manetti said. “We knew it was going to be a battle with the guys up front, and we got the upper hand tonight. Last year was motivation. It just wasn’t during the regular season, but in the offseason and in the weight room. We have a lot of one-sport football guys that put the time in when they hit that weight room.”

It was similar to the first meeting between the two squads in the regular season, which resulted in a five-point Dunmore victory.

Old Forge dominated the lines of scrimmage, and pushed the ball down the field continually.

This time, the Blue Devils didn’t fumble the ball five times and get stopped twice inside the 10-yard line in the final quarter.

Instead, it was an offensive show by Yescavage.

The senior, whose 85-yard score gave Old Forge a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter, was a workhorse. Out of the 60 plays the Devils ran, 36 of them went toward Yescavage.

He ran for 159 yards in the opening half, and added two scores in the final 24 minutes to give Old Forge (11-1) a 27-0 lead in the fourth.

“I felt pretty good carrying the ball,” Yescavage said. “I have a great line that opens holes for me. I’m getting 6 or 7 yards a carry because that line is just so amazing. We were just ready from the first snap because all we thought about was losing 7-6 last year.

“We wanted redemption and we got it.”

The Bucks couldn’t find any footing offensively.

Daiqwon Buckley, Dunmore’s leading rusher, was stopped four straight times inside the 7-yard line on the Bucks’ opening drive of the first quarter and managed just 26 yards on 13 carries in the first half.

Dunmore (11-1) had just six first downs in the game, and 124 yards of offense.

“The kids put a lot of time in this week. They worked their tails off and it showed,” Old Forge coach Mike Schuback said. “And the veteran leadership of this senior group, making calls on the line no matter what we saw, I can’t say enough. Our kids were just so physical tonight. It’s going to take that type of effort all the way through. This is just one step on the journey.”

It was a methodical push every drive.

Every scoring drive – with the exception of Yescavage’s 85-yard run – was at least seven plays. The longest was a 15-play series that went 69 yards and ended in Yescavage’s second score.

And that wasn’t even the Devils’ longest as they put together an 18-play drive in the second quarter that ate almost the entire clock. The Bucks only ran eight plays in the quarter, and one was a kneeldown to end the half.

Dunmore’s lone score came in the fourth when Buckley crossed the goal line from 1 yard away with 5:18 left.

“This is a great opportunity for us, especially if we get to play Southern Columbia because they are the No. 1 team in the state,” Manetti said. “It’s going to be a fantastic game, and a battle.”

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