CURWENSVILLE – Curwensville Area High School football coach Andy Evanko has given credit for much of his team’s early season success to his defense, and Friday night that trend continued. The Golden Tide gathered in six takeaways against Smethport to key a 42-13 victory at Riverside Stadium.
Curwensville (3-0) pulled in three interceptions off of the Hubber’s quarterback Dustin Zetwick and recovered three fumbles to set the offense up in good field position. The Tide was able to score after all three interceptions.
“I really think we grew up a little bit tonight,” said Evanko. ”Smethport is really a good team, and we played well. The defense constantly put us in good position, even after we put ourselves in some bad situations.”
The first bad situation came on the first play from scrimmage as the hosts lost that ball on their own 25-yard line. However, as the Hubbers thought they could throw the ball against the Tide, senior Kyle Johns stepped in front of a Zelwick pass at the 4-yard line and returned it 76 yards to the Smethport 20-yard line.
It took four quick runs from running back Zach Tibbens to cover the distance for the lead. Tibbens’ four-yard jaunt up the middle finished the drive and Jason Thorp booted the PAT for a 7-0 lead.
Smethports’ best drive of the night came mid-way through the second quarter when they were able to put 11 plays together to cover 75 yards and eat up 5:27 on the clock. The drive concluded with Ryan Stratton driving in from two yards out. The senior fullback then changed hats from runner to kicker and added the extra point to knot the game at 7-7.
Curwensville would grab the lead back quickly as junior Trey McKenzie returned the ensuing kick-off 47 yards to the Hubber 38-yard line. Three plays later the offense capitalized as Tibbens broke loose for a 35-yard score. Thorp pushed the advantage to 14-7 with a true PAT with 3:42 left in the half.
The visitors found the Tide defense very stingy on their next series as the first two snaps of the next drive resulted in a loss of 10 yards after a run for no gain and a holding penalty. Zelwick was looking for a good gain on the next snap when junior Jake Stiles stepped in front of his pass and was stopped at the Smethport 26.
Tibbens used his offensive line well on the first play after the interception to maneuver his way for the 26-yard touchdown. Smethport was caught off-side on the PAT attempt which opened the door for Tibbens to bulldoze through the line for two points and a 22-7 advantage that stood up through the rest of the first half.
“Our secondary has knocked down so many balls over the last two weeks that it was no surprise that we picked a few balls off this week,” said Evanko. ”We have played the pass so well, and are really starting to get things together.
“All the guys in the secondary – Johns, Stiles, (Kyle) Billings, (Austin) Jacobson, and (Travis) Lansberry have just been all over the balls that come their way. And then the second half found the offense getting into gear; everybody played big.”
The Hubbers came out of the locker room determined to get back into the game and moved the ball 46 yards in six plays to the Tide 24. However, the defense rose to the occasion as senior Alex Olson dropped Zelwich for a 7-yard loss and the next two plays earned negative yards as well and forced the visitors to punt.
Neither team would get to the end-zone in the third quarter, but the Tide would all but put the game away at the 8:22 mark of the fourth quarter. Another Curwensville defensive stop gave them the ball on the Hubber 29 yard line. One play later, Olson found the end-zone for a 29-yard score and a 28-7 lead.
Starting at mid-field, Smethport was not ready to go home. Five plays later Nate Wilber hauled in a Zelwick pass for a 28-yard score. A series of penalties by both teams on the extra-point try left the Hubbers to settle for a kick attempt that was blocked to leave the score at 28-13.
Curwensville would score two more times in less than three minutes. The first score came with the help of Hunter Johnson’s fresh legs. The sophomore covered 48 yards on two carries before giving way to Tibbens for a seven yard TD at the 5:23 mark of the fourth quarter.
Two plays later, Stiles pulled in his second interception of the night. The offense struck quickly as Tibbens’ last carry covered 41 yards, and Olson finished off the scoring on a 10-yard play with 4:17 left to play.
“We saw some holes in their line late in the first quarter,” Evanko noted. ”The second half adjustments allowed our line to open the way for some great running. We just look for them to get better and continue to work hard.”
Tibbens finished with his third 100-plus game of the year piling up 167 yards on the night with four touchdowns. Olson ran five times for 50 yards and two scores while Johnson’s five attempts covered 64 yards.
None of the Hubbers’ backs ran for over 40 yards on the night, but Zelwick threw for 131 yards despite his three picks.
Curwensville will travel to St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy in Boalsburg next week to test the new school. The Tide’s athletic departmant advises fans to bring their own chairs to the game as the new field has limited seating on portable bleachers.
St. Joseph’s fell to Coudersport 38-14 friday night. In other games of interest in the AML, Kane defeated Otto-Eldred 35-8 with three other contests taking place Saturday afternoon.
Tiara Bumbarger was crowned Homecoming Queen and Tyler Mays was named King during pre-game ceremonies at Riverside Stadium.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Smethport – 0 7 0 6 – 13
Curwensville – 7 15 0 20 – 42
Curwensville: 4-yard run by Tibbens (Thorp kick), 6:49.
Smethport: 2-yardrun byStratton (Stratton kick), 5:09.
Curwensville: 35-yard run by Tibbens (Thorp Kick), 3:42.
Curwensville: 26-yard run by Tibbens (Tibbens run), 2:26.
Curwensville: 29-yard run by Olson (kick failed), 8:22.
Smethport: 28 -yard pass from Zetwick to Wilber (kick blocked), 6:54.
Curwensville:7-yard run by Tibbens (Thorp kick), 5:23.
Curwensville: 10-yard run by Olson (Thorp kick), 4:17.
Smethport / Curwensville
FIRST DOWNS: 12 /8
RUSH YARDS: 117/286
PASS YARDS: 131 / 25
TOTAL YARDS: 248 /311
PENALTIES: 10/ 6
PENALTY YARDS: 64 / 42
COMP/ATT/TD/INT: 9-22-1-3/ 3-8-0-0
FUMBLES: 6 / 2
FUMBLES LOST: 3/1
SMETHPORT: Zetwick – 12 carries, 11 yards; Shunk - 8 carries, 39 yards; Stratton – 14 carries, 35 yards, TD; Nielson – 5 carries, 30 yards; Arnett – 1 carry, 3 yards; Brown – 2 carries, 2 yards; Team – 1 carry, (-3) yards; TOTALS: 43 carries, 117 yards, TD.
CURWENSVILLE: Tibbens – 24 carries, 169 yards, 4 TD’s; Olson - 5 carries, 50 yards, 2 TD’s; Johnson – 5 carries, 64 yards; Johns – 1 carry (-1) yard; Lancaster – 2 carries, 3 yards; Peters – 2 carries, 1 yards; Totals: 39 carries, 286 yards; 6 TD’s.
SMETHPORT: Zetwick – 22 attempts, 9 completions, 131 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT.
CURWENSVILLE: Johns - 8 attempts, 3 completions, 25 yards, 0 TD’s, 0 INT.
SMETHPORT: Stratton – 3 receptions, 45 yard; Burdick – 2 receptions, 5 yards; Corbett – 1 reception, 28 yards; Wilber – 3 reception, 53 yards, TD; TOTALS: 9 receptions, 131 yards, 1 TD.
CURWENSVILLE: Tibbens - 1 receptions, 10 yards; Billings – 3 receptions, 15 yards; TOTALS: 3 reception, 25 yards.