BEALLSVILLE - Beallsville head coach Paul Kanzigg gave his team a little incentive during Friday night's halftime delivery
If his Blue Devils were going to enjoy the Homecoming weekend dance they'd "have to pick it up defensively in the second half," noted the second-year mentor, as visiting Toronto "had big-play capability and showed it early on.
Recording four interceptions in the final 13 minutes, two from junior Mikey Palmer, Big Blue took Kanzigg's advice and upped its record to 4-3 with a wild 32-18 victory.
BEALLSVILLE’S Chase Mercer is lifted into the air by Dalton Secrest after a touchdown during Friday’s game against Toronto. The Blue Devils improved to 4-3 by virtue of a 32-18 victory.
It was big as far as Beallsville remaining in playoff contention in D7 Region 25, while Toronto slipped to 3-4.
At halftime, Gwendolyn Otto was crowed Homecoming Queen when she drew the odd-colored rose.
"Our line blocked well and were able to run some clock in the second half," said Kanzigg, who mentioned his sophomore quarterback Chase Mercer "played well in the second half.
Clinging to a 20-18 lead late in the third quarter, sophomore defensive back Levi Phillips' 31-yard interception return to the Toronto 49 set up a fourth Big Blue TD.
Mercer, senior Bruce Sefert, and talented frosh Joey Cunningham combined their efforts for 32 rush yards to the 17, but two flags backed the Devils to the 32-yard line.
Palmer made a circus catch of Mercer's next aerial, a rainbow to the corner of the end zone, as he fell to his back with the ball and a defender draped over him. The TD made it 26-18 with 10:31 to go.
The Blue Devils' pass rush applied pressure on Toronto sophomore QB Blaze Glenn from that point, as seniors Dalton Secrest, Cole Susac, and Aaron West led the way.
The Red Knights faked a punt on their ensuing drive, but Glenn's toss was picked off by BHS senior Derek Lucas.
Coach Eric Meek's club couldn't drive past the hosts' 44 the rest of way as Palmer's first interception an untouched 63-yard touchdown return with 1:07 left to make it 32-18.
In the closing seconds a desperation heave by Glenn was swiped by Palmer at his 25 to close out one of Beallsville's strongest second half efforts.
The hosts opened the scoring on their second possession when Mercer called his own number and went up the middle on a keeper for 42. His toss to Lucas on the conversion at 1:32 was the game's only successful PAT.
On the ensuing kick, Charles Ross III showed off his wheels with a 74-yard touchdown return, but the Knights trailed 8-6 after one quarter.
Kanzigg's club returned an eight-play, 59-yard TD march behind the running of Sefert, Palmer, and Cunningham. A Mercer-to-Sefert completion moved the oval to the two-yard line, where Cunningham got the TD call at 11:03 of the second.
Glenn led Toronto back with a 57-yard drive, which he capped with a one-yard keeper at 8:44 to slice it 14-12.
Chez Glenn's INT thwarted Beallsville's next series, but the hosts' final drive of the half covered 58 yards in 28 seconds.
Mercer used Palmer and Lucas on a hook-and-lateral for eight yards, before Lucas caught three passes for short yardage to move the pigskin to the 28.
With :03 showing, Mercer threw a dart in the back of the end zone to Lucas for the TD and a 20-12 lead at the break.
Secrest continued his assault on the OVAC sack record with five to go along with five tackles and five unassisted.
"(Palmer) did a great job on both sides of the ball," said Kanzigg, "and Cunningham showed he's a hard runner and can handle the load."
"Toronto's a quality team, and fast, but we did a much better job in the second half. Our goal is to win out," as Big Blue hosts Bridgeport, Friday, while the Knights hosts Conotton Valley.
on the same night.