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Wait is worth it for Belville, Media Bowl champs Strath Haven

NETHER PROVIDENCE — Back on Friday, before the game had even started, Strath Haven’s Ethan Belville casually jogged past the Penncrest sideline as he and his teammates were preparing to enter the field. Without breaking stride, he grabbed the Hometown Bowl trophy that was peacefully resting on a Penncrest bench.

Sixteen hours and eight minutes later, Belville and the Panthers were taking pictures with the trophy. It was theirs. Again.

“That’s ours, bro. That’s ours,” Belville said. “They can’t have it. That’s ours.”

Over the course of two days and at two locations, Strath Haven dominated Penncrest 35-0 in the Media Bowl. The game started as scheduled Friday night at Penncrest, but lightning and heavy rain caused a suspension midway through the second quarter. Late Saturday morning, this time at Strath Haven, the game resumed.

Regardless of where the field was, Strath Haven (2-1, 2-0 Central League) was in total control. The Panthers were up 28-0 and driving for more when the game was suspended. Fifteen hours and 11 minutes later, the game resumed. Six plays after that, Strath Haven scored.

It was that easy. The Panthers now lead the all-time series 28-8. It was their third win a row.

“I thought they did a real good job of staying focused and coming out (strong),” Strath Haven coach Kevin Clancy said. “In general I thought the focus was pretty good.”

This was the first suspended game Clancy, nearly a four-decade veteran of heading coaching, could remember being involved in. Belville said the team stayed loose Friday during the delay by dancing and joking around in the locker room.

About an hour after the teams left the field Friday, the game was officially postponed. Penncrest’s field was unavailable Saturday, so the conclusion was moved to Strath Haven, which was already hosting the planned JV game.

It was weird coming back a day later. Strath Haven made it work.

“It’s definitely hard to get jacked up again, but we did it,” Belville said. “We were fine.”

Friday, the Panthers scored on their first four possessions. Zack Hussein, who rushed for a game-high 128 yards, had two short first-quarter touchdown runs. The speedy Ibo Pio housed an 86-yard run on the first play of the second quarter. Four minutes later, Hussein powered in from eight yards out.

The following possession was rolling along as usual before the suspension hit at the 5:37 mark of the second quarter. Officially, Pio’s 19-yard run and Hussein’s eight-yard run follow each other in the play-by-play, but they took place hours and miles apart. Belville finished off a drive that started Friday on Saturday with a six-yard haul from Jake Fisher.

“It was pretty good in a lot of ways,” said Clancy of the game. “We ran the ball very efficiently, and that’s everybody contributing to that. And I thought the real thing was defensively. They have a pretty good offensive scheme, and I thought that our defensive guys played really well.”

Penncrest (1-2, 1-1) went for it on fourth-and-one at its own 34 on the game’s first possession. The run was stuffed. The Lions totaled 185 yards of offense and couldn’t get the ball to top wide out Jayden Brown before the suspension. He caught five balls for 82 yards upon resumption, but the game was in hand by then.

The Panthers rushed for 362 yards. The running clock was in play during the entire second half. The backups played most of the final 24 minutes. It was a great two days of football for Strath Haven. But bigger things — a home playoff game? — await.

”That’s what we want right now,” Belville said.

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