NEW BETHLEHEM — Offensive efficiency and defensive dominance made for nearly perfect opening night for the Redbank Valley Bulldogs in what’s already been a strange football season.
The late-starting schedule got off on a strong note for the Bulldogs in their 44-0 rout of visiting Curwensville last Friday night. The Bulldogs led 37-0 by halftime and added one second-half TD during the Mercy Rule running clock.
The Bulldogs limited the Golden Tide to just 61 yards — all of them in the air with 27 running attempts getting an even zero yards — while turning in an efficient offensive performance led by junior quarterback Gunner Mangiantini.
“We didn’t know what we had coming into camp offensively, but we realized a couple weeks into it that we have some weapons,” Bulldogs head coach Blane Gold said. “If we got guys who are willing to be unselfish and share the football, if we can keep that mindset, we really have a lot of weapons.
“I thought we ran the ball well. We were at a point where we didn’t need to really throw the ball,, but when we see wideouts on the edge blocking hard and finishing plays hard, they deserve to get the rock, so I’m happy with that obviously. Defensively I was happy with their effort. Curwensville was a young team last year, so we came in preaching to them that they’re going to be better, they had experience and almost everybody back so I’m happy with how we handled that.”
Mangiantini, whose season was cut short by an injury as a sophomore starter, didn’t do much wrong as he completed 10 of 11 passes for 129 yards and four touchdowns. He threw first-half TDs to Kobe Bonanno covering 11 yards, Tate Minich for 25 yards and Marquese Gardlock also from 25 yards out on the final play of the half.
Mangiantini also scored on a 39-yard keeper and finished with 57 yards on three carries. The lone score of the second half came on Mangiantini’s 8-yard flip pass to Trenten Rupp.
“We knew what we have with Gunnar as an athlete, and we really challenged going over the summer to develop his passing game, throwing the ball better and I’m really impressed with the way through the ball, not only tonight but the way he the way he’s been throwing the ball recently, and with the athletes we have, he’s got to continue to develop there,” Gold said.
Hudson Martz also went over the century mark rushing with 101 yards on just eight carries, scoring on the game’s first drive on a 25-yard run. Mangiantini’s 14-yarder to Bonanno made it 15-0 by the 4:38 mark of the first quarter.
The Bulldogs upped their lead to 23-0 when Mangiantini hit Minich for their 25-yard hookup at the 4:19 mark of the second quarter and Mangiantini’s 39-yard run pushed it to 33-0 with just 79 seconds left in the half.
But Curwensville fumbled the ball away two plays after the ensuing kickoff and the Bulldogs took advantage with Mangiantini hitting Gardlock on a 25-yard jump ball as time expired.
The Bulldogs scored on Mangiantini’s flip pass to Rupp on their first possession of the third quarter.
The Tide managed just four first downs on offense as quarterback Dan McGarry completed 7 of 19 passes for 61 yards. He completed a 37-yard pass to Ty Terry in the closing moments of the game, but the Tide failed to score from the 10 as time ran out.
McGarry had a 23-yard run in the first half, but was sacked eight times by the Bulldogs totaling 55 yards in losses. Duane Brady ran for 28 yards on seven carries.
Seven different defenders combined for eight sacks for the Bulldogs, led by Brandon Ross’ two. Joe Mansfield had 1 1/2 sacks with a fumble recovery while Noah Anderson, Ray Shreckengost, Martz and Coltin Bartley each had one. Bonnano had 1/2 a sack.
“Hat’s off to Redbank Valley,” Tide head coach Jim Thompson said. “They’re a big team and we knew from last year they were pretty good and returned a lot of kids. They played well, but we just did not play our best game. It’s a shame.”