CURWENSVILLE – With a few adjustments to the line-up, the Curwensville Area High School football team needed one quarter to feel comfortable before drubbing winless Ridgway 61-14 Friday night at Riverside Stadium. Most of the new personnel were on the offensive and defensive lines, and everything started to click in the second quarter.
“We had to work out the bugs and find our own identity again,” said Tide head coach Andy Evanko, “and I was very pleased with the way Todd Munchak took over at center and Kyle Kyler at guard. The moves worked out well for the team.”
It looked as though the offense was going to be able to move the ball with ease as the opening drive of the game used nine downs and 3:47, capped by a 20-yard touchdown run by Alex Holland. However, two penalties on the drive and a stop by Ridgway on the two-point conversion set the tone for the rest of the period.
“You have to hand it to Ridgway early in the game,” Evanko praised. “They stuck it to us in the first quarter. They played hard and came to play.”
The Golden Tide posted three first downs on their opening drive , but managed just two more in the first quarter as the Elkers were able to stop the hosts twice on fourth down conversions to take over the ball. Fortunately, the Tide defense allowed zero first downs and yielded just one yard of total offense in the first 12:00.
Curwensville’s sluggish start continued until the 6:21 mark of the second period. Two lost fumbles and further penalties continued to stymie the Tide. However, when the Elkers tried to convert on a fourth-and-20 play on the Curwensville 24-yard line, Kyle Barrett’s hard rush knocked down quarterback Alex Dickant and breathed life into the entire Tide squad.
On the very next play, Curwensville quarterback Hunter McCracken put the ball into Holland’s hands and the junior rambled 76 yards for his second touchdown of the game and a 12-0 mark after a second 2-point conversion failed.
Two plays later, Holland was in the end zone again as he stepped in front of a Dickant pass and covered 42 yards on the runback. He took the two-point try into the end zone for a 20-0 lead that continued to balloon before halftime.
In their last possession of the half, the Tide needed only two plays to score. Senior quarterback Alec Starr settled in for his series and went to the air on both plays. Starr found Shae Best on the left side, and Best split the defense and dragged tacklers for a 26-yard catch and run. Starr then threw a strike to Shane Hoover, who made a quick turn and jogged into the end zone untouched. Taylor Bumbarger was able to add the extra point and sent the Tide to the locker room with a 27-0 lead.
“Our changes just took a while until the comfort level raised,” said Evanko. “We didn’t really do that much to change things at the half – we just came out and tackled better.”
Tackling better lead to two Ridgway punts and a fumble as the Golden Tide scored on each of its first three possessions of the second half.
The Elkers had to punt after a three-and-out to open the third quarter. Hoover tucked the ball at his own 47-yard line and covered the distance for a 53-yard return.
Barrett recorded a sack on third down and partially blocked the punt on fourth down to set his team up again in the third quarter. Four plays later Holland scored for the fourth time on the night with a 17-yard touchdown. The try forPAT sailed left to just miss and leave the score 39-0 and invoke the mercy rule.
With the ball on their own 20-yard line, Ridgway could only manage one down from scrimmage as Brian Dimmick filled the hole quickly and forced the ball out of Chad Quail’s hands. Dimmick fell on the ball at the Ridgway 26 and four plays later Jeremy Bloom had run the ball three straight times – the third a one-yard score. Bumbarger split the upright and the lead moved to 46-0 with 3:11 to go in the third.
The Curwensville offense scored three times in the third quarter, but it was the defense that made the scores possible by surrendering just 23 total yards in the quarter.
Three plays into the fourth quarter saw the shutout disappear when Dickant ran a bootleg for 10 yards and a score. Kevin Kilhoffer added the extra-point and the 46-7 lead.
The ensuing kick-off fell short and was initially bobbled by sophomore Brad Coudriet. Coudriet gathered the ball in and drove straight down the field for a 77-yard kick-off return. The Bumbarger kick left the score at 53-7 with 10:06 to play in the game.
“Our special teams have been very big for us this year,” Evanko said. “Shane has had a number of run backs this year, and I couldn’t be more happy for Brad.
Elker sophomore Zac McKnight tried to get in on the return action as he took the Tide kick-off back 68 yards before stepping out of bounds at the 14-yard line. Mike Cappiello covered those 14 yards on the next play to set the score at 53-14 with 9:23 left.
The Tide reserves finished out the scoring with a 10-play drive that covered 73 yards. Coudriet and Josh Greslick moved the ball steadily down the field before helping to push the ball into the end zone in the hands of freshman quarterback Kyle Johns. Coudriet carried as the second team converted the two-point conversion and the 61-14 final.
With three carries in the second half, Holland finished with 201 yards rushing on 19 carries and three touchdowns offensively. Best caught two passes for 35 yards while Hoover ended with just one catch for the score. Starr connected on two passes for 41 yards and a score while McCracken had just one completion for nine yards.
The Curwensville defense posted a strong attack giving up negative one yard of total offense in the first half and 23 in the third qurter before turning the game over to the JV squad.
Curwensville will now await the outcome of Saturday’s match-up with unbeaten Brockway and Elk County Catholic on Saturday. The Tide hosts ECC next Friday with District IX Class A implications on the line.
“We’ll have to come out to play next week,” Evanko predicted, “We’ll try to be physical and just play our game. The nice part is that the game will be at Riverside Stadium.”
Kick-off is slated for 7:00 next week when the Crusaders come to town.
Score by Quarter
Ridgway 0 0 0 14 – 14
Curwensville 6 21 19 15 – 61
Curwensville: 20-yard run by Hollad (run failed), 8:13
Curwensville: 76-yard run by Holland (run failed), 6:06
Curwensville: 42-yard interception return by Holland (Holland run), 5:02
Curwensville: 15-yard pass from Starr to Hoover (Bumbarger kick), 2:24
Curwensville: 53-yard punt return by Hoover (kick failed), 9:14
Curwensville: 17-yard run by Holland (kick failed), 6:09
Curwensville: 1-yard run by Bloom (Bumbarger kick), 3:11
Ridgway: 10-yard run by Dickant (Kilhoffer kick), 10:20
Curwensville: 77-yard kick-off return by Coudriet (Bumbarger kick), 10:06
Ridgway: 145-yard run by Cappiello (Kilhoffer kick), 9:23
Curwensville: 3-yard run by Johns (Coudriet run), 3:31
RIDGWAY / CURWENSVILLE
FIRST DOWNS: 11 / 7
RUSH YARDS: 94 / 344
PASS YARDS: 41 / 50
TOTAL YARDS: 135 / 394
PENALTIES: 4 / 4
PENALTY YARDS: 20 / 30
COMP/ATT/TD/INT: 4-10 -0-2 / 3-7-1-0
FUMBLES: 2 / 2
FUMBLES LOST: 1 / 2
RIDGWAY: Cappiello – 19 carries, 55 yards, TD; Quail – 8 carries, 34 yards; Dickant – 6 carries, -6 yards, TD; McKnight – 1 carry, 11 yards; Himes – 1 carry, 0 yards; TOTALS – 35 carries, 94 yards, 2 TD’s
CURWENSVILLE: Holand- 19 carries, 201 yards, 3 TD’s; Dimmick – 6 carries, 34 yards; Greslick -5 carries, 53 yards; Bloom -3 carries, 26 yards, TD; Coudriet – 3 carries, 17 yards; Johns – 2 carries, 3 yards, TD; Kyler – 1 carry, 8 yards; McCracken – 1 carry, 2 yards; TOTAL-40 carries, 344 yards, 5 TD’s.
RIDGWAY: Dickant – 4 for 10, 41 yards.
CURWENSVILLE: McCracken – 1 for 3, 9 yards; Starr- 2 for 4, 41 yards, TD.
RIDGWAY: Jaques – 3 receptions, 31 yards; Kilhoffer – 1 reception, 7 yards.
CURWENSVILLE: Best – 2 receptions, 35 yards, Hoover – 1 reception, 15 yards, TD.