While the ultimate achievement for baseball pitchers is the perfect game, the Bermudian Springs High football team nearly achieved the football equivalent on offense Friday night at home against the Susquenita Blackhawks in the first round of the District 3 Class AA playoffs.
Bermudian had the ball eight times and scored on six possessions en route to a 42-7 romp against a Blackhawk team that Susquenita head coach Bart Miller said was making its first playoff appearance since 1984.
The game was a highly anticipated duel of two stout defenses, as the Blackhawks had allowed just 13.7 points per game, and Bermudian Springs had allowed more than eight points in only one game on the season.
However, Bermudian put together scoring drives of 62, 95, 56 and 80 yards to build a 28-0 halftime lead.
"They did everything we watched on film," Miller said. "They were just better. We adjusted our alignments and went in at halftime and make adjustments. They are the kind of team that says, 'Here is what we are going to do,' and then lines up and does it anyway, and that's a nice situation to have going on."
After deferring to the second half, Bermudian's defense forced a three and out, and then the offense smashed out a nine-play, 62-yard, prototypical Wing-T power-running touchdown drive, relying completely on its two-headed rushing attack.
Fullback Tristan Sponseller toted the pigskin six times for 38 yards on the drive, and running back Zach Stroup chipped in three carries for 24 before Sponseller spun like a top across the goal line from a yard out to cap the drive.
Sponseller carried 16 times for 81 yards on the night, putting him over the 1,000-yard barrier on the season. Stroup, who entered the game with more than 1,000 yards rushing, carried 18 times for a team-high 132 yards, and picked up two rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown.
Bermudian continued to roll on its next possession, an 11-play, 95 yard drive, but it wasn't traditional counter-left, counter-right power running.
Taking just 3:54 off the clock, the Eagles sprinkled in pass by Michael Moore for 16, 17 and 28 yards on top of a still successful ground game.
After a 28-yard throw-back screen to Stroup broke the Eagles out of second-and-15, Stroup scored from 7 yards out to make it 13-0.
The extra point was blocked.
"My line gave me time and I just found open receivers," Moore said. "It added another dynamic that (the defense) had to cover."
"We throw the ball better than people think we do," Bermudian head coach Jon Defoe added.
Bermudian's defense continued to dominate as it has all year, shutting down the vaunted Susquenita running game by holding the Blackhawks to 15 yards on 11 first-half carries.
"I think we got them off balance a little bit when we came out and got the 13-0 lead," Defoe said. "We put a little pressure off their offense. When you're a power running team, you aren't really built for it to be easy to come back."
"We knew that, coming in, we were going to have to throw the ball," Miller said. "That's not really what we do, but we were confident that we could not run the ball against their front."
Susquenita moved the ball into Bermudian territory on its next drive, but back-to-back sacks forced the Blackhawks to try an unsuccessful fourth-down play at the Eagles' 42.
Chris McManama broke through for a sack on first down, and Jake Slonaker and Coby Erb slung the scrambling Brett Morrison to the ground on second down to back the Blackhawks into a hole they could not escape.
Instead, the Eagles got the ball on their own 44 and scored again, with Stroup taking a pass in the flat 14 yards for a score.
With two minutes to go in the half, Moore scrambled around in the backfield before hitting Ryan Markle for a 41-yard gain, setting up Bermudian's next score, a 5-yard run from Sponseller.
Stroup banged in a goal line score to put the mercy rule into effect in the third.
Susquenita got on the board in the fourth when Morrison hit Evan Miller with back-to-back 23-yard passes, the latter of which was a deep slant down the middle for a touchdown.
Landon Mohney capped off the scoring for Bermudian with a 7-yard run.
Susquenita 0 0 0 7 -- 7
Bermudian 7 21 7 7 -- 42
BeS -- Tristan Sponseller 1 run (Aaron Rebert kick), 6:50.
BeS -- Zach Stroup 7 run (kick blocked), 11:17.
BeS -- Stroup 14 pass from Michael Moore (Stroup pass from Moore), 5:41.
BeS -- Sponseller 5 run (Rebert kick), 0:41.
BeS -- Stroup 2 run (Rebert kick), 1:43
Sq -- Evan Miller 23 pass from Brett Morrison (Alex Clayton kick), 10:26.
BeS -- Landon Mohney 7 run (B.J. Yoder kick), 5:21.
-- Sq -- BeS
First downs -- 9 -- 26
Rushes-yards -- 20-50 -- 48-321
Passing -- 12-21-2 -- 8-10-0
Passing yards -- 89 -- 150
Total yards -- 149 -- 471
Punts -- 3-32.7 -- 0-0.0
Fumbles-lost -- 1-0 -- 0-0
Penalties-yards -- 1-2 -- 5-45
Rushing -- Susquenita, Todd Mullen 7-29, Dalton Jones 2-14, Jordan Baker 1-9, AJ Peck 1-3, Dakota Hansel 1-1, Brett Morrison 8-(-6); Bermudian Springs, Zach Stroup 18-132, Tristan Sponseller 16-81, Michael Moore 5-58, Landon Mohney 7-44, Ben Thomas 1-4, Brennan Waltermyer 1-2.
Passing -- Susquenita, Morrison 12-18-0-89, Baker 0-2-1-0, Peck 0-1-1-0; Bermudian Springs, Moore 8-10-0-150, Ted Marines 0-0-0-0.
Receiving -- Susquenita, Evan Miller 4-52, Peck 3-18, Drew Knowles 3-5, Mullen 2-14; Bermudian Springs, Stroup 3-52, Ryan Markle 2-57, Brandon Markle 2-24, Sponseller 1-17.