CURWENSVILLE-The devastation could been seen in the eyes of Curwensville quarterback David Kalgren as he sat on the 20 yard line, pondering what had just occurred. Only moments before, he along with the rest of the Golden Tide saw their season come to an end in a 27-24, double-overtime loss to the Elk County Catholic Crusaders.
In the locker room, head coach Andy Evanko had the opportunity to reflect on the season and the team, specifically the senior players.
“Right now, I feel empty. I’m losing 13 players who have been a big part of my life for the last 3 or 4 years, and it’s just tough,” said Evanko.
On the other side, Crusaders head coach Travis Skrzypek was happy to see his team battle throughout the game.
“That’s been what the AML South has been this year: there were a lot of overtime games this year and the guys really played hard,” said Skrzypek.
Quarterback Joe Jacob only completed one pass the entire night, however accounted for three of the four Crusaders’ touchdowns, which Skrzypek said was the difference in the contest. Leading rusher Ricky Pearsall, who had 66 yards on 20 carries, accounted for the other Crusaders’ score. Skrzypek also said that field position was a big reason for the success on the ground.
For Curwensville, the run game was led by Jed Greslick, who had 51 yards on 16 carries including a touchdown; however the rest of the Golden Tide offense only accounted for 16 more yards on the ground. Making up for the low ground success, Kalgren went 12 of 16 through the air for 112 yards and one touchdown.
“Kalgren was always in the weight room, always there at practice, and was a great leader,” said Evanko.
Curwensville got right to work on the opening kickoff, as wide receiver Jesse Hoover took the ball at the 11, found a hole on the right side, got two blocks, and went 89 yards for the touchdown. The ensuing extra point gave the Golden Tide a 7-0 lead only 13 seconds into the game. Elk County Catholic could not respond as they fumbled the ball on their second play of the game and was recovered by Curwensville at the Crusader 38. Both teams exchanged possessions until Curwensville again put the ball in the end zone when Jed Greslick stormed in from 2 yards out, capping a 10 play, 58 yard drive. The failed two-point conversion kept the score 13-0 heading into the second quarter.
Both teams punted twice, but it was Elk County Catholic who began to gain momentum as the defense blocked the second punt by Greslick, giving them the ball on the Golden Tide 26. Seven plays later, Jacob punched the ball over the goal line for the touchdown. The extra point cut the lead to six with 4:34 left in the first half. Curwensville went three and out on the ensuing possession and were forced to punt again.
It was then that the Crusaders shifted momentum well in their favor as the defense blocked a second straight punt by Greslick, this time taking over at the 16. With a short field, the Crusaders used their ground game to gain their first lead, as Jacob scored his second rushing touchdown. The extra point gave Elk County Catholic the 14-13 lead heading into halftime.
“The blocked punts were probably the biggest thing for us. It gave us good field position,” said Skrzypek.
On the second half kickoff, Elk County Catholic was set to receive, but Curwensville faked and hit an onside kick and recovered the ball at the Crusader 40. Unfortunately for the Tide, they were stopped on fourth down and had to turn the ball over.
The Crusaders were forced to punt on the ensuing possession, however got the ball back after Kalgren threw his first interception of the game. Both teams exchanged possessions to end the third quarter, with neither squad putting any points on the board. It was not until late in the fourth quarter that Elk County Catholic added to their lead when Pearsall scored on an 18 yard scamper down the right sideline. The extra point made it 21-13 late in the game.
On the kickoff, Elk County Catholic did not kick the ball very well, and was touched by a Crusader player before traveling ten yards. The penalty gave Curwensville the ball at the Crusader 43. Once again, Curwensville found little success on the ground. After a sack, coach Evanko’s team was faced with a Fourth and 20 from the 40 yard line. Forced to go for it, Kalgren answered the challenge as he found a wide open Andrew Starr at the 10 yard line and then spun past the goal line for the touchdown. The Tide had to go for two in order to tie the game, and Kalgren managed to escape a rush from the Crusaders to find Jesse Hoover on the side of the end zone, making the score 21-21 with only 1:51 left in the game.
The crowd began to make noise as the Crusaders took the field again. After the Crusaders went three and out, Curwensville got another chance to take the lead late in the game, but Kalgren’s first down pass hung in the air and was intercepted by Pearsall. Kalgren made up for the mistake on the last play of regulation, as he intercepted Jacob and sent the game into overtime.
The Crusaders got the ball first in overtime, but lost yardage and were forced to attempt a 32-yard field goal. Curwensville’s Sam Gardner blocked the kick, giving Curwensville an opportunity to win the game. The Tide could not capitalize on the opportunity as Nathan Russell’s 29 yard field goal was blocked after a high snap.
To start the second overtime period, Curwensville was on offense. Electing to try the passing game against the Crusader defense, Kalgren could not complete his three attempts. However, the foot of Russell was good from 27 yards, giving the Tide a 24-21 lead.
Elk County Catholic had one more opportunity to get the victory, and started on two straight runs by Pearsall to get the ball to the 2. Then, on third and goal, Jacob faked a handoff and swept to the left, and fought through the Curwensville defense, plunging over the goal line and putting the Crusaders into the semi-finals.
Coach Evanko was able to reflect on a successful season despite it coming to a heartbreaking end in front of their home crowd.
“One of our goals every year was to never know when our last practice would be, and we did that…it’s a tough way to end the season, but I’m so proud of the coaches, the players, and the fans,” said Evanko.
Elk County Catholic (7-3) will face the Clarion Bobcats (7-4) next Friday or Saturday night. The game will be played at a neutral site. Date, time and location of the game will be released next week.
Elk County Catholic Curwensville
First Downs 7 8
Rushing Yards 133 67
Passing Yards 12 112
Penalties/Yards 6/17 7/55
Total Yards 165 241
Comp./Att./TD/Int. 1/9/0/1 12/26/1/2
Fumbles/Lost 2/1 0/0
Total Plays 58 55
Time of Possession 26:37 21:23
RUSHING: Elk County Catholic: Pearsall-20 carries, 66 yards, TD; Marconi-12 carries, 44 yards; Meholic-7 carries, 11 yards; Jacob-5 carries, 6 yards, 3 TD
Curwensville: Greslick-16 carries, 51 yards, TD; McGary-3 carries, 9 yards
PASSING: Elk County Catholic: Jacob-1 for 9, 12 yards, INT
Curwensville: Kalgren-12 for 26, 112 yards, TD, 2 INT
RECEIVING: Elk County Catholic: Catalano-1 catch, 12 yards
Curwensville: Hoover-7 catches, 45 yards; Starr-2 catches, 46 yards, TD
GT (11:47) – 89 yard Kickoff Return (PAT good)
GT (2:28) – 2 yard run by Greslick (2 point conversion no good)
ECC (4:34) – 1 yard run by Jacob (PAT good)
ECC (0:03) – 1 yard run by Jacob (PAT good)
ECC (3:52) – 18 yard run by Pearsall (PAT good)
GT (1:51) – 40 yard pass from Kalgren to Starr (2 point conversion good)
GT – 26 yard field goal by Russell
ECC – 2 yard run by Jacob