CURWENSVILLE — For the past three weeks, Pennsylvania has felt the wrath of Mother Nature when it comes to Friday night football.
Heavy rains, along with a blast of snow, have made the fields treacherous for everyone. But, in the case of the Curwensville Golden Tide, the bad weather seems to have worked in their favor.
Out of its five wins, four of them have come on fields that have been soaked and where the team’s uniforms come back covered in mud. With the ground game that the Tide possesses, the rainy conditions play right into their hand.
Friday night, Riverside Stadium was once again met with a soggy night as the Tide played host to the Johnsonburg Rams. True to form, the Tide put their ground game to work, picking up 349 yards on the ground, as they rolled past Johnsonburg, 41-6.
Head coach Andy Evanko said after the game that the field conditions were nothing they weren’t used to this season.
“This weather, I tell you, it has not been pretty the last few weeks,” Evanko stated. “However, it’s the same weather everyone’s playing in. We just seem to do really well in the mud.”
The mud certainly favored their two star running backs as Jed Greslick and Alex Holland combined for five of Curwensville’s six rushing touchdowns. Greslick ended the night with 196 yards on 18 carries, while Holland gained 112 on 12 carries.
“I think Greslick had a fantastic night running the ball. I think Holland also had a great night. They just work together so well,” Evanko said.
It was not just the Tide offense that put together a solid game as their defense held Johnsonburg to 110 yards total offense. The Ram ground game was nonexistent as their leading rusher, Max Zimmerman, only had 13 yards.
What Johnsonburg did not gain on the ground they made up for in the air. Junior quarterback Andrew Nortum went 6 of 12 for 93 yards, including the Rams’ lone touchdown.
The first quarter is where the Tide made the most impact as they got the ball first at their own 31. The first drive lasted just six plays, all of which were runs by Greslick, capped off by a 3-yard plunge into the end zone. Greslick also kicked the extra point, which gave the Tide an early 7-0 advantage.
Johnsonburg had no answer as they went three-and-out on their first drive and were forced to punt. Greslick fielded the punt near mid-field, but found open space along the sideline and nearly made it to the end zone. Greslick was taken down at the 5-yard line, which made it easy pickings for Curwensville as Greslick scored on the second play of the drive. The two-point conversion made it 15-0 with still half a quarter to play.
The Rams could not find the answer as they again went three plays on the next drive, giving the ball back to Curwensville. This drive provided the big play of the evening as on second down from the Tide 37, Greslick broke into the secondary of Johnsonburg, and no one could catch him on his way to the end zone. The extra point made it 22-0, and there were still three quarters of play left.
Following yet another stalled Johnsonburg drive, Curwensville opened the second quarter with another hard-charging, run-filled drive that was capped off by Holland scoring his first touchdown of the night on a 31-yard scamper. Greslick’s extra point made the score 29-0.
Evanko said that the offensive line was coming together extremely well as a unit.
“We’ve got a really nice offensive line, including our slots and tight ends. They blocked very well to get some of those big scores,” Evanko stated.
Johnsonburg managed to get a drive going that would consume much of the second quarter. Staring at their own 24, the Rams drove down the field using Nortum’s arm and his legs. After making it to the Curwensville 6, the drive began to stall as Curwensville forced a sack and two incomplete passes, then stopped Johnsonburg on fourth down. Curwensville would run out the clock heading into halftime.
The Rams would get the ball first to start the third quarter, but again they went three and out, giving the ball back to the Tide. Once again, using a combination of Holland and Greslick, Curwensville drove down the field on another successful drive. This one was capped by Holland’s second touchdown of the game. The botched extra point left the score 35-0.
Curwensville’s final score came in the fourth quarter when Richie Michaels scored from one yard out. The extra point was blocked, leaving the score 41-0.
Johnsonburg saved a shutout as Nortum connected with Joe Holmberg for a 28-yard passing score. The failed two-point conversion made it 41-6. Curwensville’s reserves came out for the final drive of the game and ran out the clock.
Curwensville (6-2) will host the Kane Wolves (5-3) next Friday night, which could be the deciding game of the Allegany Mountain League-Southern Division. Curwensville is in charge of their own destiny as a win would automatically give them the title. However, Evanko quickly pointed out that he and his team were not thinking about the title.
“Honestly, we weren’t thinking about it. We came in here thinking about beating Johnsonburg, and we did that,” Evanko said. “We’re going to get together on Monday and just get better and focus on beating Kane.”
That key game will kickoff at Riverside Stadium next Friday at 7 p.m.
1st 2nd 3rd 4th FINAL
JOHNSONBURG 0 0 0 6 6
CURWENSVILLE 22 7 6 7 41
C: Greslick 3-yard run (kick good), 9:19
C: Greslick 1-yard run (2-pt conversion good), 6:10
C: Greslick 67-yard run (kick good), 3:18
C: Holland 31-yard run (kick good), 11:25
C: Holland 7-yard run (2-pt conversion no good), 7:23
C: Michael 1-yard run (kick blocked), 11:11
J: 28-yard pass from Nortum to Holmberg (2-pt conversion no good), 5:10
FIRST DOWNS: 6 13
RUSH YARDS: 17 349
PASS YARDS: 93 15
TOTAL YARDS: 110 364
PENALTIES: 5 4
PENALTY YARDS: 21 25
COMP/ATT/TD/INT: 6/14/1/0 2/2/0/0
FUMBLES: 3 0
FUMBLES LOST: 0 0
TIME OF POSSESSION: 25:02 22:58
JOHNSONBURG: Zimmerman-3 carries, 13 yards; Nortum-10 carries, 3 yards
CURWENSVILLE: Greslick-18 carries, 196 yards, 3 TD; Holland-12 carries, 114 yards, 2 TD; Michael-5 carries, 17 yards, TD
JOHNSONBURG: Nortum-6 for 12, 93 yards, TD; TEAM-0 for 2
CURWENSVILLE: Gardner-2 for 2, 15 yards
JOHNSONBURG: Holmburg-3 catches, 53 yards, TD; Wolfe-1 catch, 29 yards; Vavala-1 catch, 10 yards; Shuey-1 catch, 4 yards
CURWENSVILLE: Greslick-1 catch, 14 yards; Tubbs-1 catch, 1 yard