BRADFORD - Warren County tore it up.
The dozen senior representatives from Warren County high schools showed what it meant to be all-stars on Saturday night in Bradford in the 37th Annual Don Raabe Big 30 Charity Football Classic at Parkway Field.
Pennsylvania lost the game, 46-37, to New York, but it was clear that the county boys came to play. It showed early when Eisenhower High School graduate Mike Rulander returned the opening kickoff 74 yards to the New York 16-yard line.
Times Observer photo by Mitch Wilston
Every little bit counts
Sheffield graduate Craig Fitch stretches out for the Pennsylvania to first down in the Don Raabe Big 30 Charity Classic on Saturday night at Parkway Field in Bradford.
Three plays later, Ike grad and Rulander teammate Cody Crosby found Sheffield graduate Jimmy Hahn alone in the corner of the end zone for the first touchdown of the contest. Later, in the third quarter, Crosby hooked up with Kane's Arie Paup for a 55-yard touchdown strike. With four minutes left in the contest, Crosby scored again, running it in from seven yards out.
The Division II Gannon-bound Crosby finished 12 of 23 passing for 241 yards with four total touchdowns - three through the air - in the loss.
Warren's Cody Bupp and Colter Johnson played solid games as well for the Pennsylvania squad, which was coach by Youngsville head football coach Tony Tridico and staff. Johnson finished the contest with two catches for 66 yards while Bupp hauled in four catches for 67 yards and had a fumble recovery.
Sheffield's Craig Fitch rotated in with Crosby at quarterback and finished the contest 5 of 11 for 35 yards with two interceptions. Youngsville's Mike Gibson, who was Pennsylvania's lead blocker at fullback for the game, got one carry for five yards, and caught a two-point conversion pass from Crosby. Hahn also caught a two-point conversion pass from Crosby.
Defensively, the Warren County representatives also played a big role. Warren's Mike Jaskolka had a huge game, recording two sacks and he had a fumble recovery. Jaskolka, Nick Church and Brandon Fox all played key roles on the defensive line, while Curtis Delattre, Kyle Luther, and Rulander were at defensive back.
As for the game itself, there was no shortage of excitement, or flags. Big plays and penalties were the theme of the night. Tied at 14-14 late in the first half, a Pennsylvania punt gave New york just enough time for a chance. After an incomplete pass on first down, quarterback Kevin Stevens hit running back Ben Boberg in stride out of the backfield for a 27-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion gave New York a 22-14 lead at intermission.
Boberg raced 55 yards to start the second half for a 29-14 New York lead.
After a Pennsylvania fumbled snap, New York's 43-yard field goal by Cody Gustin put the Empire State up by 17, 32-14.
Just as the game appeared to be getting out of hand, a couple of Warren County Codys took over. A 35-yard pass play from Crosby to Bupp.
"Cody and I go way back since we were probably 10 years old," Bupp told the Bradford Era after the game. "We just have a good rhythm."
"We really had out speed and timing down and were just rolling with it," added Crosby.
Crosby's touchdown pass to Kane's Paup followed on the next play to cut the New York lead to 32-22.
After a fumble recovery later on, Crosby found Bupp for nine yards, Lucas Kline for a first down and Paup for 38 yards to set up a 4-yard touchdown run by Cameron County's Andy Lippert for his second touchdown made it 32-29 New York.
A big kickoff return by New York stole back the momentum and led to a 27-yard touchdown by Portville's Justin Taylor.
New York held on a 4th-down-and-five on Pennsylvania's next possession from the PA-39, and led to a New York touchdown pass on the very next play from Stevens to Ryan Carney.
Crosby found Colter Johnson for 30 yards to the New york-12 on the next possession late in the fourth quarter. Three plays later, Crosby ran it in for a 46-37 New York lead.
"I just wanted this win so bad for the rest of the guys," Crosby told the Bradford Era.
New York receiver Carney had a huge night with six catches for 207 yards and three touchdowns.
"It was a huge night from our county," said Tridico, who was also appalled by the 13 penalties for 133 yards even in a charity game and couldn't help expressing it. "What bothered me were the constant holding penalties that seemed to be phantom but they weren't returned. No officiating crew should ever impact the game like they did Saturday night. What our kids overcame was nothing short of amazing.
"Definitely our plan was to try to get everybody involved as much as we could in this style of game," said Tridico. "And the kids were unreal how they came together. I thought both our quarterbacks were going to have big nights, though it's tough to know if somebody is going to get the hot hand because you've got to play them each 50 percent of the time. But Cody (Crosby) really stepped up his game and had a lot of fun with it. I think Craig (Fitch) had a bunch of great plays, but unfortunately about seven great plays of his were called back for penalties. Penalties cost us four first-down drives in the first quarter. I can't say how many times Craig Fitch made a great run and it was called back, also a long pass to (Cody) Bupp. That was the only downside to the game."