RIDGWAY — When a game plan is executed to perfection, very often the end result is a good one. Last week when the Curwensville Golden Tide faced off against Brockway, their game plan was simple: run the ball, and keep it away from the opponents.
Fast forward one week to a matchup against the Ridgway Elkers, a similar game plan was put into effect. With rain falling at a steady pace, Curwensville put on a clinic with their rushing game. After 48 minutes of football, the Tide racked up nearly 400 yards on the ground in a convincing 41-8 victory over the Elkers.
Outside the locker room, head coach Andy Evanko gave the most credit to his offensive line for their blocking and creating the gaps for those yards.
“Our offensive line blocked exceptionally well tonight,” Evanko said. “They are really coming together as a unit.”
The big player on this night for Curwensville was Jed Greslick. In his best performance of the season, he rushed for 303 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries. A strong majority of those yards came in the first half, as the Tide gained over 230 yards through the first two quarters.
Adding to the impressive ground total was teammate Alex Holland, who put together 45 yards on ten carries including one touchdown, and quarterback Sam Gardner gaining 14 yards on five carries with two scores as well.
Defensively, Curwensville had one of their best performances to date on the season. The Tide did not give up a first down until the beginning of the second quarter and held the Elkers to only 172 yards of total offense while creating four turnovers.
“You know our defense played really well to start the game and they just kept at it all night,” Evanko said.
For Ridgway, their leading player on the ground was Cory Eshbach with 115 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown. No other Elker player had more than 38 yards of offense.
Curwensville got the ball to start the game and went to work right at the first whistle. Using a combination of Holland and Greslick, the Tide pounded the ball 79 yards down the field in just over three minutes. The quick, yet effective, drive was capped off by Holland’s lone score of the game from six yards out. The ensuing extra point gave the Tide an early 7-0 advantage.
Ridgway would fail to get anything working on their first drive as they went three and out. The rain began falling as Curwensville took the field again with just over seven minutes left in the first quarter. Using the same game plan as the first drive, the Tide once again moved down the field in a short time span. This time, Gardner called his own number to get his first score of the night on a one-yard plunge into the end zone. Greslick’s extra point made it 14-0, which it remained for the rest of the quarter.
The second quarter was when Curwensville put this game away. After another three-and-out by Ridgway, the Tide put their lead runner, Greslick, to work. In a drive that only lasted one minute and 26 seconds, Curwensville ran 67 yards, finishing with Greslick’s first score of the night from a yard out. The extra point was blocked, keeping the score 20-0.
The Elkers moved the chains for the first time on the ensuing drive, but the defense held strong forcing them into a 3rd and 9 deep in Curwensville territory. On the next play, quarterback Jordan Lundin dropped back and threw towards the sideline looking for Sam Skraba, but was picked off by Gardner.
Wanting to take full advantage of the turnover, Curwensville once again went to their ground game. At one point, Greslick managed to break free into the secondary for a huge touchdown run. However, an illegal block took the 56 yard touchdown and made it a 41 yard gain.
Curwensville still managed to hit pay dirt as Gardner soon found his way into the end zone on an eight yard sweep. The two point conversion attempt failed, leaving a 26-0 advantage.
On the Elker’s first play from scrimmage following the score, things did not work out well. On the exchange from center, Lundin lost grip on the football, and the Tide fell on it for the quick turnover.
Unfortunately for the Tide, their first play following the turnover was not much better. After scrambling out of the pocket, Gardner went for a pass down the sideline intended for Kyle Barrett. His pass hung too long in the air and was picked off by Sam Skraba. That intercepted pass would turn out to be Gardner’s final pass of the evening. He finished 0 for 2.
The drive following the turnover would not work out well for Ridgway as they would again go three and out. On fourth down, Ridgway lined up to punt from their own 20 yard line, but the snap went over the punter’s head and into the end zone. The ball was then kicked out of the back of the end zone, meaning both a safety for Curwensville and a penalty on Ridgway. The score was then 28-0 with a free kick from the 20-yard line still waiting.
The free kick was returned by Holland to the Ridgway 39, and one play later Greslick broke open for a second time into the secondary. This run counted and the score would be 34-0 heading into halftime.
The third quarter would have Ridgway receiving the ball. Greslick squib kicked because of the wet weather, but the ball took an odd bounce and hit a Ridgway player on the ankle. It meant a live ball and the Tide recovered right around mid-field.
Curwensville would again drive the ball down the field, but on this drive the Elker defense put up a front and managed to stop the Tide on fourth down, getting the ball back at their own 24.
On the first play from scrimmage, Eshbach broke out for a big 18 yard gain, but as he was being tackled lost grip on the football, and the Tide once again recovered the loose pigskin for their fourth turnover of the game.
“We were real fortunate to get the turnovers,” Evanko said because of the wet conditions. “On the field, it was really wet and footing was an issue.”
The possession following the turnover would put the game officially out of reach for Ridgway as the run game again proved to be too much to handle. Greslick would finish off the drive with a run off the right side of his line, his third and final touchdown of the game. The extra point made it 41-0.
Ridgway’s lone score came in the fourth quarter when Eshbach scored from three yards out. He also scored the two point conversion. Curwensville would get the ball back with 7:41 to play, but put in many of their second-string team to run out the rest of the clock.
Coach Evanko said afterwards that the last two weeks have been really great both on and off the field, and also gave praise to the Elkers for their performance.
“We’ve had a great couple weeks of practice and it shows out there. You know, Ridgway has a young football team, but they have a lot of decent and talented football players,” he said.
Curwensville (4-2) will finish out the road portion of the regular season next Friday as they face Elk County Catholic. That game will be played at St. Marys High School.
Curwensville 14 20 7 0 41
Ridgway 0 0 0 8 8
TIDE: 6 yard run by Holland (Greslick kick) 8:57
TIDE: 1 yard run by Gardner (Greslick kick) 3:20
TIDE: 1 yard run by Greslick (kick blocked) 11:55
TIDE: 8 yard run by Gardner (2 point conversion failed) 5:34
TIDE: Safety when punt went out of end zone 2:51
TIDE: 39 yard run by Greslick (2 point conversion failed) 2:29
TIDE: 1 yard run by Greslick (Greslick kick) 1:34
ELKERS: 16 yard run by Eshbach (2 point conversion good) 7:41
CURWENSVILLE – RIDGWAY
First Downs: 20 7
Rush Yards: 389 148
Pass Yards: 0 24
Total Yards: 389 172
Penalties: 4 2
Penalty Yards: 17 7
Comp/Att/TD/Int: 0/2/0/1 4/13/0/1
Fumbles: 0 3
Fumbles Lost: 0 3
Time of Possession: 31:37 16:23
CURWENSVILLE: Greslick-27 carries, 303 yards, 3 TD; Holland-10 carries, 45 yards, TD; Gardner-5 carries, 14 yards, 2 TD
RIDGWAY: Eshbach-15 carries, 115 yards, TD; Cappiello-4 carries, 38 yards
CURWENSVILLE: Gardner-0 for 2, 0 yards, 1 Int
RIDGWAY: Lundin-3 for 10, 31 yards, Int; Skraba-1 for 3, (-7) yards
RIDGWAY: Jacques-2 catches, 12 yards; Skraba-1 catch, 19 yards