BROCKWAY – The Curwensville Area High School football team took the turf at Frank Varischetti Field in Brockway on Friday night with hopes of erasing the memories of a 56-34 loss from week six of the regular season. However, what transpired in the opening moments of the District IX Class A quarterfinal game had the Golden Tide fans shaking their heads and thinking the scene was too familiar.
In the earlier game this season, the Rovers capitalized on Tide misfortunes to run up a 35-0 score early in the second quarter. Last night, the home team posted two touchdowns before a minute ran off the clock, and the Tide faithful were undoubtedly shocked at the similarities from game one.
“We got off to a slow start again,” said Tide head coach Andy Evanko. ”I think it was emotion more than anything else. We just were too anxious at the start of the game.”
Curwensville was able to overcome the early problems, but fell short of moving to the semifinals by falling 36-29 to the Rovers.
After the opening kickoff saw Brockway set up on their own 38-yard line, junior quarterback Alec Shaffer-Doane ran a play action to the right; then turned left to find and hit in stride his senior wide receiver Anthony Benson. Benson pulled in the catch and raced down the side-line for a 62-yard touchdown with the clock reading 11:46. Phil Esposito added the PAT for a 7-0 start before most fans had a chance to warm their seats.
On their first play from scrimmage, the Golden Tide coughed up the football, and Brockway recovered at the 18-yard line. Shaffer-Doane dropped back to pass again, but finding no one open, decided to tuck and run. Using some quick steps up the middle of the field, he eluded the defense and scored the second TD at the 11:25 mark. The home team found themselves with a 14-0 advantage within 35 seconds of the opening kickoff and before either team was able to record a first down.
To the Golden Tide’s credit, like the first meeting between the two teams, they kept their composure and chipped away at the lead. The offense moved the ball down field with the help of a 59-yard pass play from Hunter McCracken to tight end Brad Stubbs. However, when the drive stalled it was time for the defense to step up. Curwensville forced a three-and-out at the Brockway 11, and started the next drive on the opponent’s 45-yard line.
It took the Curwensville offense just four plays to get on the scoreboard. the drive comprised of Alex Olson with 16 yards, Brad Coudriet catching and running for 15 yards and and Zach Tibbens toting the ball the final 14 yards for the touchdown. Jake Stiles came on to kick the extra point to close the difference to 14-7 at the 5:51 mark of the opening quarter.
Both teams had trouble gaining an advantage through the rest of the period and most of the second quarter as well, as penalties and poor execution stymied several drives. The first advantage to come about from the shabby play went to the Rovers. A Tide pass was picked off by Jason Faulk and returned 37 yards for a score. A horse-collar flag set the hosts up at the one-and-a-half yard line and Shaffer-Doane punched in the two-point conversion for a 22-7 advantage with 4:15 left in the half.
Curwensville answered the call as they set up on their own 35-yard line after the ensuing kickoff. Tibbens carried the ball six times in the series for 60 yards, but yielded to Coudriet to dive in from one-yard out. Tibbens did take the ball over the goal for the points-after and the visitors were back within one score at 22-15 going into the locker room.
“I thought our defense played well tonight – at least it wasn’t 35-0,” Evanko grinned. ”It was the penalties on both sides of the ball that hurt us, but I am proud of our kids for their effort.”
Curwensville received the ball on the second half kick and started from their 32-yard line. With the Brockway defense geared to stop Tibbens, it was a reverse to wideout Jordan Russell that opened things up on an eight-yard gain. Coudriet blasted for five yards up the middle, and Stubbs caught his second pass of the night for 21-yards to set Tibbens up to cover the final 22 yards for the score. Tibbens again trotted into the zone to give his team two more points and its first lead at 23-22.
The defense backed the offense on the next series and soon the Tide took over on downs as Stubbs sacked Shaffer-Doane at the Rover 39. It looked like the momentum was riding with the Tide as they mounted an 11-play drive that covered 6:06 on the clock. The running game again proved effective, but perhaps the biggest play during the series was a 16-yard pass play to Austin Jacobson on a third-and-14 to keep the drive alive. Tibbens eventually scored his third TD of the game from four yards out and came up just short on the PAT rushing attempt to set the score at 29-22 in favor of the guests.
“We thought we could play with them and knew this game was going to be a battle,” said Evanko. ”We told the guys to leave everything on the field and they responded with a great effort.”
While the Curwensville squad did play inspired ball in the fourth quarter it seemed that fate had other ideas. Senior Austin Pollick, who hadn’t played since early in the season due to an injury, settled under a tipped pass for an interception at the Tide seven-yard line to stop a threat. However, the offense stalled, and moments later Shaffer-Doane found Benson for a 35-yard touchdown pass that would tie the score 29-29.
On the ensuing kickoff, Russell returned the ball 65 yards to the Rover 30. The effort resulted in a blocked field-goal attempt after a holding penalty. Brockway would use that stop as momentum to end the game.
Shaffer-Doane had been throwing his passes high during the second half, but suddenly he found his targets to methodically push the ball down field. The Rover signal-caller connected on four straight passes of 10 yards or more to put his team within fieldgoal range for the very accurate Esposito. While the hosts were trying to run down the clock to keep the ball out of the Tide’s hands, Benson got loose in the secondary for a 14-yard rushing touchdown to give Brockway the lead with :47 left to play.
Curwensville, with no time outs left, was given one last play as Kyle Titler iced the game with an interception.
“It’s tough in the locker room”, Evanko said. ”We have some great senior leaders on this team who meant a lot to this team for the past three or four years. This was a tough way to go out. I want them to know that there wasn’t a day that I didn’t look forward to going to practice. This is a great group of kids, and I think the world of them.”
Tibbens finished the game with 161 yards to lead all rushers. Shaffer-Doane threw for 245 yards with Benson the main target pulling in five tosses for 148 yards. McCracken threw for 162 yard in the game with Stubbs totaling 84 of those.
Other scores of interest in District IX action include Clarion’s 34-7 bumping of Smethport, Elk County Catholic’s 30-6 win over Union, and in AA action Kane downed Brookville 35-34 in overtime. Brockway will play Clarion next week, while ECC will face Port Allegany. Kane will meet Karns City in the AA Championship game next week.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Curwensville –7 8 14 0 – 29
Brockway - 14 8 0 14 - 36
Brockway: 62-yard pass from Shaffer-Doane to Benson (Esposito kick), 11:46.
Brockway: 18-yard run by Shaffer-Doane (Esposito kick), 11:25.
Curwensville: 14-yard run by Tibbens (Stiles Kick), 5:51.
Brockway: 37-yard interception return by Faulk (Shaffer-Doane run), 4:15.
Curwensville: 1-yard run by Coudriet (Tibbens run), 1:19.
Curwensville: 22-yard run by Tibbens (Tibbens run), 8:47.
Curwensville: 4-yard run by Tibbens (run failed), 0:13.
Brockway: 35-yard pass from Shaffer-Doane to Benson (Esposito kick), 6:16.
Brockway: 14-yard run by Benson (Esposito kick), 0:47.
Curwensville / Brockway
FIRST DOWNS: 15 / 8
RUSH YARDS: 223/69
PASS YARDS: 162 / 245
TOTAL YARDS: 385 / 314
COMP/ATT/TD/INT: 9-17-0-2 / 14-26-2-1
FUMBLES: 1 / 1
FUMBLES LOST: 1 /0
PENALTIES: 7 / 9
PENALTY YARDS: 60 / 79
CURWENSVILLE: Greslick-1 carry, (-1) yard; Coudriet-9 carries, 25 yards, TD; Tibbens-31 carries, 161 yards, 3 TD’s; Olson-5 carries, 27 yards; Russell-1 carry, 8 yards; McCracken-3 carries, 3 yards; TOTALS: 50 carries, 223 yards, 4 TD’s.
BROCKWAY: Melillo- 8 carries, 18 yards; Shaffer-Doane-5 carries, 29 yards, TD; Benson-7 carries, 25 yards,TD; Titler-1 carries, (-1) yards, TD; Team-2 carries, (-2) yards; TOTALS: 23 carries, 69 yards.
CURWENSVILLE: McCracken-18 attempts, 9 completions, 162 yards, 0 touchdown; 2 interceptions.
BROCKWAY: Shaffer-Doane-26 attempts, 14 completions, 257 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception.
CURWENSVILLE: Russell- 1 reception, 7 yards; Coudriet-3 reception, 41 yards; Jacobson – 2 receptions, 30 yards; Stubbs -3 reception, 84 yards; TOTALS: 9 receptions, 162 yards.
BROCKWAY: Benson-5 receptions, 148 yards,2 TD’s; Perrin-4 receptions, 47 yards; Isabella-4 receptions, 38 yards; Titler-1 reception, 12 yards; TOTALS: 14 receptions, 245 yards.
Golden Tide Final Scoreboard:
|08/31||@ Coudersport||34 – 26||1 – 0|
|09/07||CAMERON COUNTY||46 – 20||2 – 0|
|09/14||SMETHPORT||42 – 13||3 – 0|
|09/21||@ Johnsonburg||41 – 0||4 – 0|
|09/28||KANE||36 – 20||5 – 0|
|10/05||@ Brockway||34 – 56||5 – 1|
|10/12||RIDGWAY||55 – 6||6 – 1|
|10/19||ELK COUNTY||12 – 13||6 – 2|
|10/27||@ Sheffield||50-28||7 – 2|
|11/02||OFF WEEK||xxx||7 – 2|
|D9 A Playoffs|
|11/09||@ Brockway||29 – 36||7 – 3|