Jets Rally To Topple Big Reds

MORRISTOWN – Excuse Kyle Copeland if he sleeps in a little today. He was pretty busy Friday night.

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound junior quarterback accounted for 415 yards of offense and was involved in all the scoring as Union Local posted a hard-fought, 26-20, Buckeye 8 victory against Bellaire at a muddy Jets Stadium.

”I challenged him at halftime,” Union Local coach Mark Cisar said of his standout quarterback. ”I told him we were going to get on his back, and he was going to carry us. He stepped up in the second half.”

It wasn’t exactly Copeland’s fault the Jets (5-2) were on the short end of a 14-12 count at the half. After all, he had completed 12 of 25 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown. He finished 21 of 38 for 305 yards with the touchdown and an interception. He also carried the ball 34 times for another 114 yards and three touchdowns.

Bellaire held the lead at the half mainly on the strength of a potent running attack, a long touchdown pass and an interception.

After Copeland lobbed the ball to receiver Darby Waller in the left corner of the end zone for a 7-yard scoring pass to open the second quarter, Bellaire rebounded in lightning-quick fashion.

On its first play, senior quarterback Ryan Feller rolled to his left and spotted speedster Devin Ward behind the Jets’ secondary. His pass hit the junior wideout in stride, and after breaking an ankle tackle at the 40, he was gone down the sideline for an 82-yard scoring play. Ross Fuller’s PAT put the visitors ahead, 7-6.

Bellaire added to its lead moments later when Steven Johnson picked off a Copeland pass and returned it 40 yards to the Union Local 4. Two plays later, senior Trevor Bobka bulled his way into the end zone from 3 yards out. Fuller was again perfect on the point-after, and the Big Reds were on top, 14-6.

Not to be outdone, Union Local stormed right back, driving 62 yards on four plays as Copeland reached the end zone from 10 yards out. Sparking the march was a 57-yard hookup between Copeland and Ryan Tobiczyk that moved the ball to the Bellaire 10. Two plays later, Copeland went up the middle on a quarterback draw, cut right and went in standing up.

The 2-point run attempt failed when Tyler Arigoni slipped on a counter play.

Bellaire had a chance to add to its margin once again but Fuller’s 24-yard field goal was a little to the left of the uprights in the waning seconds of the first half.

The Jets came out flying in the third quarter as Copeland engineered a 10-play, 80-yard drive that gave them the lead for good. He completed a trio of passes that covered at least 25 yards, including a 31-yard strike to Waller on fourth-and-19 from the 32. Copeland sneaked in on the next play for a 20-14 reading after the 2-point try failed once again.

”I thought Darby (Waller) also had a good second half,” Cisar noted. ”He was another one of the players that I challenged at halftime.

”I didn’t go in there (the locker room) and rant and rave at halftime. We just talked about certain player stepping it up, and they did.”

After an exchange of punts to start the fourth quarter, Union Local took advantage of Bellaire’s lone turnover when Arigoni hit Feller causing a fumble. Adam Kyer fell on it at the Bellaire 11, and Copeland covered that distance on the next play.

”It was a night of big plays, and that turnover and us scoring quickly was huge,” Cisar recalled. ”That kind of set the tone for the rest of the game.”

Bellaire did cut the deficit to 26-20 on backup quarterback Jake Camsky’s 1-yard sneak with 2:07 left, but the Jets then ran out the clock.

”They (Union Local) came out and did what they wanted, but we didn’t play very smart at times,” said first-year Bellaire coach Jose Davis. ”We have a couple of mental lapses and they took advantage of them.

”I was pleased with the effort the kids gave. It could have been very easy for some of them to pack it in, but they haven’t. They played with heart (Friday night). I don’t have an issue with the effort.”

Union Local ran 73 offensive plays, and Copeland was involved in all but one of them – a 10-yard run by Joe Nicholes before he injured a knee and didn’t return.

Bobka led Bellaire with 61 yards rushing, while Feller was 10 of 18 for 196 yards and a touchdown.