BOALSBURG – The game plan for the Curwensville Area High School football team on Friday night was to keep the ball out of the skill players hands, and the Golden Tide executed that plan to perfection. The Tide limited St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy’s attempts with a strong defense and allowed the offense to control the clock in a 25-7 victory that keeps Curwensville’s record unblemished on the year.
This is the Wolves inaugural season on the gridiron, however, with a few speedsters in the backfield, a strong-arm quarterback, and sure-handed receivers, they have been a threat in each of their first three contests.
“We just felt that if we had the ball, they couldn’t score,” said Tide head coach Andy Evanko. ”We thought that we could score on their defense, and we wanted to grind it out on the ground to shorten the game.”
St. Joseph’s (1-3) looked sharp on the opening drive with positive yardage on their first four plays from scrimmage that earned them two first downs. Then it was time for the Black and Gold defense to make its appearance. A batted pass and a tackle for loss by Johnathan Miller forced a punt from the Wolves. They would accumulate just seven more first downs in the game – three on their final drive of the game when some of the Tide’s younger players were getting varsity experience.
Curwensville took over from their own 20-yard line after a touch-back and methodically moved the ball 80 yards for the first score of the night. The Golden Tide drained 6:33 off the clock on 13 plays to take a 7-0 lead. Senior Zach Tibbens covered most of the distance with 11 carries for 80 yards. However, a false start penalty gave Alex Olson the opportunity to finish the effort with a three-yard touchdown. Jake Stiles handled the PAT kicking duties on the evening as Jason Thorp missed the game due to illness.
The score may have been enough to rattle the hosts in their first ever night game under rented lights as Curwensville was back on offense after two plays. Again a passed was knocked down before an interception by senior Kyle Johns gave his offense the ball on their own 29.
“Our defense has played big game-after-game this season,” Evanko praised. ”The way we have defended the pass has made opponents run the ball and we’ve handled that very well. I couldn’t be more proud of these kids.”
The work horses went right to work again to control the clock on the ground. Tibbens and Olson again pulled the end zone closer, but it was senior Trey McKenzie who broke the Wolves line for a 46-yard TD romp in the early seconds of the second quarter. The kick sailed wide, but the Tide held a 13-0 lead that held up until the end of the half.
“Trey has been a God-send for us this season,” credited Evanko. ”We wanted to pound the ball at them and tire them out. We looked to get everyone a touch because our backs compliment each other so well. They all ran hard tonight and kept their defense guessing at where we were going to attack from.”
The Wolves tried to mount a charge before halftime with a 10-play drive that showed three first downs. However, the Golden Tide defense stood stingy once more and ended the threat with two consecutive plays for loss, the second was on a sack by Miller that caused another punt. The Tide would then run out the clock.
After the intermission the Tide took the kick-off and extended the lead. Draining 5:24 off the clock on this drive with Tibbens and Olson sharing the better part of the drive. But, it was quarterback Johns who followed his line to paydirt from one-yard out for a 19-0 lead after a try for two points failed.
Three plays later the visitors had the ball back as Stiles stepped in front of a Philip Fenstermacker pass and ran for 33 yards to the Tide-25. Tibbens used three plays to cover the distance completed by a 10-yard TD run. The two-point conversion pass-play fell to the ground and the score stood at 25-0
On the ensuing possession, Curwensville forced a three-and-out and iced the game with a 20-play drive that came up empty at the St. Joe’s 10-yard line. However, the drive ate up 10:58 through the third and fourth quarters. The Wolves got the ball with 3:17 left in the game.
At this point the younger Tide players spelled the upperclassmen, and it appeared the Wolves offense came to life. To that point, speedster Kahsim Buey had 14 total yards. He quickly took advantage of the inexperienced players to cover 90 yards on four jaunts and scored at the 1:48 mark on the clock.
“I give so much credit for our success to these kids,” said Evanko. ”This season has been so special for all of us, and they have worked so hard. Now we have to get back to work tomorrow and keep improving.”
The improvement focused on Saturday’s walk-through and next week’s practice will be concentrated on another pack of Wolves. The Golden Tide will Travel to Kane next Friday for a showdown of the AML-South’s unbeaten. Both teams are 4-0 on the season. Kane had to mount a second half comeback on Friday to upend previously undefeated Brockway 35-31.
NOTES – Tibbens ran the ball 33 times for 215 yards and a score…Olson gained 24 yards on six rushes with a TD…McKenzie added 72 yards on eight attempts with a touchdown…Hunter Johnson also ran six times for 27 yards… St. Joe’s had 55 total yards of offense before their 90-yard scoring drive…The Wolves piled up 50-yards in penalties…Other scores from Friday night’s AML line-up included: Sheffield 27, Cameron County 0, Coudersport 35, Port Allegany 16, Smethport 40, Otto-Eldred 34 and Ridgway 28, Elk County Catholic 8.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Curwensville –7 6 12 0 – 25
St. Joseph’s – 0 0 0 7 – 7
Curwensville: 3-yard run by Tibbens (Stiles kick), 2:23.
Curwensville: 46-yard run by McKenzie (kick failed), 11:17.
Curwensville: 1-yard run by Johns (run failed), 6:34.
Curwensville: 10-yard run by Tibbens (pass failed), 3:21.
St. Joseph’s: 7-yard run by Buey (Young kick), 1:48.
Curwensville / St. Joseph’s
FIRST DOWNS: 16 / 10
RUSH YARDS: 333/ 109
PASS YARDS: 11 / 36
TOTAL YARDS: 344 / 145
COMP/ATT/TD/INT: 1-2-0-0 / 5-16-0-2
FUMBLES: 1 /2
FUMBLES LOST: 0 /0
CURWENSVILLE: Tibbens- 33 carries, 215 yards, 1 TD; Olson- 6 carries, 24 yards, TD; Johnson – 6 carries, 27 yards; Johns – 2 carries, (-4) yards, TD; McKenzie – 8 carries, 72 yards, TD; Team – 1 carry, (-1) yards; TOTALS: 56 carries, 333 yards, 4 TD’s.
ST. JOSEPH’S: Buey- 14 carries, 104 yards, 1 TD; Fenstermacker- 5 carries, 5 yards; TOTALS: 19 carries, 109 yards, 1 TD.
CURWENSVILLE: Johns – 2 attempts, 1 completion, 11 yards, 0 touchdown; 0 interception.
ST. JOSEPH’S: Fenstermacker – 16 attempts, 5 completions, 36 yards, 0 touchdown, 2 interceptions.
CURWENSVILLE: Olson- 1 reception, 11 yards; TOTALS: 1 receptions, 11 yards.
ST. JOSEPH’S: Jabco – 3 receptions, 20 yards; Ross – 2 receptions, 16 yards; TOTALS: 5 receptions, 36 yards.