Mountain Ridge quarterback Bryce Snyder

Mountain Ridge quarterback Bryce Snyder throws a pass to the outside in the second half of the Miners’ 28-14 victory over Allegany Friday evening at Greenway Avenue Stadium. Snyder threw for two touchdown passes and ran for another.

CUMBERLAND — When Bryce Snyder gets into a groove, he’s hard to stop. On Friday night, he was borderline unstoppable. The junior play caller threw for 162 yards and completed 11 of his last 13 passes, and Mountain Ridge made Allegany pay for its mistakes, as the Miners scored 28 straight points and won 28-14 to re-open the football season on Friday evening at Greenway Avenue Stadium.

Snyder started slow, opening with 3 of 7 through the air for 45 yards — the big play during that stretch came on a 40-yard dump pass to Jeff McKenzie for a touchdown. But it was just a matter of time before Snyder found his groove and started picking apart the Allegany defense.

“We had two not-so-hot practices the last two nights, to be honest with you,” said Mountain Ridge head coach Ryan Patterson. “Amazingly, after the break (due to COVID), we looked like we were the (New England) Patriots. We didn’t put the ball on the ground at all. We were making the right reads. Things looked good.

“Then, for whatever reason, the last two nights we got bogged down — I think the weather had something to do with it, to be honest with you. … It definitely got us out of our rhythm; but once Bryce hit his stride in the second quarter, it was game on for him.”

Snyder finished 14 of 20 through the air and was the Miners’ leading rusher with 39 yards on nine attempts. “That kid over there, he’s a good quarterback. I wish he was a senior right now,” joked Allegany head coach Bryan Hansel. “That kid’s good.”

The Campers struck first in the contest on their second possession, with freshman quarterback Brody Williams hitting Trevan Powell for a gain of 21 to convert on fourth-and-6. A facemask penalty on the Miners marked the ball half the distance to the goal, and Braylon White rumbled into the end zone from seven yards out on the next play. Blake Powell booted the point-after try at 3:30 in the first for a 7-0 lead.

Mountain Ridge’s ensuing possession carried over into the second quarter, but just barely. On the first play of the second, Snyder dropped back to pass and waited until the last possible moment to dump it off to McKenzie, who stiff-armed a defender to gain the first down and darted past another in the secondary, breaking free up the right sideline and beating three Campers to the pylon. Ashton Shimko booted the PAT at 11:46 to tie things up at 7-all.

After entering halftime at 7-7, Mountain Ridge received the ensuing kickoff but eventually punted, with Shimko’s boot rolling out of bounds at the Allegany 11. The Campers fumbled on the ensuing play after some miscommunication on an attempted run, with Jeff McKenzie falling on the ball at the 3-yard-line.

Two plays later, Snyder called his own number and scored on a 2-yard quarterback sneak, with Shimko’s PAT at 8:55 giving the Miners the lead for good.

It didn’t take long for Mountain Ridge to double its lead — 40 seconds to be exact — after the Campers fumbled again on the first play from scrimmage, with a host of Miners falling on the pigskin.

Mountain Ridge again scored two plays later when Nathaniel Washington found himself in space on the left side of the end zone and hauled in a 17-yard pass for the score.

Washington was the Miners’ leading receiver with four catches for 57 yards.

Shimko’s PAT at 8:15 made it 21-7 with momentum fully going in the Miners’ favor.

“That’s a good football team,” said Hansel. “So when you come out and turn it over inside the 10 and just outside the 10 the second time, it really brings life and energy to their team. You saw them take off with it, and that’s what killed us. We had negative-two turnovers, they had zero. They took care of the ball.

“If you lose the turnover battle, you’re going to lose pretty much every game. I think that was the turning point of the game. You clean that stuff up, maybe we still lose the game, but it’s a close one down to the end.”

The Miners made it 28-7 when Jaden Lee scampered in from nine yards out after Snyder did well to haul in a high snap.

“He’s our Swiss Army knife,” Patterson said of the sophomore Lee, who caught four passes for 49 yards and ran three times for 31 yards. “We’re so blessed to have him for the next two-and-a-half years or whatever you want to call this. He can do it all. He’s a really special athlete.”

Shimko booted the PAT to make it a perfect 4 for 4 on extra points to go along with a pair of touchbacks.

“We hung in there,” Patterson said of his team’s performance. “Didn’t play a very good first half according to what we expected and hoped for. Choppy all over. Couldn’t finish drives. Couldn’t finish blocks. Didn’t execute things. Had a couple of shots, we missed them.

“Whatever halftime speech we all used, I guess we need to use that before the game next week. We have a nose guard that we think is as good as anybody and caused some of those fumbles and that obviously turned the game for us.”

Although a 21-point deficit was a massive mountain for the Campers to climb, the Miners did well when Allegany tried to spread the ball out wide to tackle runners in bounds to keep the clock ticking.

The final score came on a 40-yard strike from Williams to Trevor Milburn with 51 seconds to play, with Blake Powell booting the PAT.

Williams did well orchestrating the offense in his varsity debut as a freshman. Even though he completed less than 50% of his passes (6 of 15), he made the most out of bad snaps and constant pressure from the Miners from start to finish to throw for 81 yards and keep Allegany in the ballgame.

“I loved his performance,” said Hansel. “He’s a freshman and it’s just that next-man-up mentality. ... He got his head down after the touchdown, but I told him ‘you just threw a touchdown, man. Enjoy it. You’re a ninth-grader.’ He stepped up to the occasion.

“Overall, we’re happy with Brody and excited for the future he can build with us. He’s getting a great chance with these seniors and they’ve accepted him. That ball you saw (on the touchdown), if he has time, you’re going to see a lot more of that.”

Milburn finished as the Campers’ leading rusher with 73 yards on 13 attempts, while Trevan Powell had seven carries for 64 yards and four points for 35 yards.

“He’s a focal point,” Hansel said of Trevan Powell. “If you play us, you’re going to try to stop Trevan Powell. That’s where you start, and you adjust the other guys from there. They did a great job defensively. They changed looks, they overloaded boxes away from Trevan, they overloaded to him. They took him away and said everything he earned was going to be hard, and we saw that. He earned it hard.

“It’s just something we have to build on. Get Trevan in different locations, different spots where you can’t overload his side. It’s something we’ll go back and look at (on film).”

Overall, the Campers outgained Mountain Ridge, 326-246, with one less rushing yard than the Miners’ total offensive tally.

Matt Fuzie gained tough yards between the trenches, rushing eight times for 41 yards as White missed a chunk of time due to injuries. Fuzie often found himself as Johnny on the spot on defense too, keeping the Campers in it early.

“With our numbers, we’re trying to limit our two-way players on the field,” Hansel noted. “Matt is our best defensive player, in my opinion. He had a lot of tackles … it felt like he was all over the field. We really wanted Braylon to carry the offensive load and Matt the defensive load. But Matt stepped up. ... I thought he ran well. We gave him some carries and he’s a kid that just does what you ask. We’re proud of his effort.”

The Campers are off next week before playing Fort Hill on March 19, 5 p.m., at Greenway.

While there were numerous bright spots for the Miners, Patterson hopes his team will find some consistency heading into next week’s matchup at Fort Hill.

“That’s what I harped on to them after the game. I said, ‘man, you guys were flying around. There’s all this energy all of a sudden in the third quarter. How do we bottle that up and sustain that over four quarters?’ If any coach can figure out that, they’d be writing books. But, we have to start the game faster and come out here ready to go because we know Fort Hill will next week.”

Kyle Bennett is a sports reporter for the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @KyleBennettCTN.

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