BROCKWAY — It may be a little premature to call the Curwensville Area High School football squad the District IX, Class A team of the century, but the Golden Tide claimed its third title in five tries on Saturday by defeating Port Allegany 37-21 at FrankVarischetti Field in Brockway. And, for the second time in the Twenty-first Century, the victory came with a district record setting rushing effort.
When the Tide captured the District IX crown in 2004, Nate Sipes ended the season with a district-wide record of 2511 rushing yards for a single season. Saturday’s win pushed junior running back Alex Holland’s ground effort past Sipe’s mark to 2522 total yards with another game to play next week.
“That’s a tremendous achievement from a diligent and dedicated player,” Tide head coach AndyEvanko said of Holland. “But I have to point out that he didn’t do it alone. The guys up front have done an amazing job for us this year, and (Jesse) Zorger and (Zach) Dimmick and (Kyle) Barrett do a great job with lead blocks. Of, course, Alex doesn’t leave the field – you have to be in some kind of shape to do that.”
Curwensville’s win puts this year’s team in a state quarterfinal game against Farrell (12-1). Farrell earned the right to move on with a 39-0 victory over Mercyhurst Prep on Friday. The site and time of the meeting has yet to be announced.
Holland and the Tide wasted no time establishing its future on the first possession of Saturday’s contest with the Gators. Shae Best returned the opening kick-off to the Curwensville 35-yard line, and Holland covered the rest of the 65 yards on seven carries. The final run of the drive was a 37-yard touchdown run at the 8:20 mark of the first quarter. A failed kick attempt into a brisk wind left the score at 6-0.
After exchanging possessions, the first break of the game came at the 2:44 mark of the first quarter when Barrett put a hand on a Camrin Stuckey punt.
Curwensville took over on their own 41-yard line where Holland was stopped on first down for no gain. On second down, the front four and lead blocking opened the way on the right side for Holland to find the end zone on a 59-yard scamper. The two-point conversion, however, came up short, and the lead stayed at 12-0 at the end of the first quarter.
A second break for the number one seeded Black and Gold came at the 9:00 mark of the second quarter when Holland fell on a Gator fumble in the backfield at the Curwensville 45. The Tide looked to put the game out of reach, but couldn’t overcome four procedure penalties to stall at the Port 28-yard line.
The opportunity sparked the Gators, who hadn’t had a first down in the game up until the 2:47 mark of the first half. Port quarterback Matt Bodamer scampered 14 yards on second down, and threw for 16 yards on the following play to set the ball at the Curwensville 43 with 1:30 left to play in the half.
Three more completions from Bodamer and a holding penalty against the Tide pushed the ball to the 10 with :26 left. Bodamer kept the ball on the next play and was stopped at the two-yard line. After a time out, the sophomore play-caller hit classmate Tyce Miller on a quick slant to the right side for the score. Kenny Kysor added the point after to give the Gators life at 12-7 with :20 left in the half. Port Allegany took that momentum into the locker room knowing they would get the ball first in the second half.
“We had to gather ourselves at halftime,” said Evanko. “We let up a little bit and they drove down the field. We just talked about some adjustments and the kids came out and did the job.”
Curwensville allowed 62 total positive yards of offense in the first half – all of it coming on the final drive. The halftime adjustments worked immediately for the Tide as Port Allegany lost one yard on their first set of downs in the second half.
The punt put the ball at mid-field for the Curwensville offense to quickly add 50 yards to their total on their initial drive of the second, which resulted in a touchdown. The nine-play drive featured Holland on seven runs, but a 21-yard run up the middle by senior quarterback Alec Starr helped set up the two yard score by Starr. A pass attempt for the PAT again failed and the score stood at 18-7.
The ensuing kick-off set Port Allegany at the Curwensville 18-yard line. Again the Tide allowed no yards on the first two downs. On third down Bodamer’s drop back resulted in a sack and fumble at the 12. Holland gathered in the ball and darted to the goal for a touchdown. Unfortunately, the kick again failed, and the score was set at 24-7.
Port Allegany refused to go away, however, and Bodamer sparked the offense again on the next series. A 25-yard pass play from Bodamer to Stuckey on first down gave the sixth seeded Gators life. Charlie Buchanan later pulled in a 14-yard pass play to the Curwensville 16. A delayed hand-off on the next play to Seth Lowery hit pay dirt. Both teams had trouble all night on the PAT, and a failed kick left the score at 24-13 with 4:30 left in the third quarter.
Big plays continued for the Tide on their next series. After another procedure penalty, Curwensville was facing a third-down-and-nine on their own 45-yard line. Sophomore quarterback Hunter McCracken rolled to his right and found Barrett wide open for a 55-yard catch and run to the house. The pass was the only reception of the afternoon for the Tide. A run for PAT again failed to put the score at 30-13 that held up at the end of the third quarter.
“Our defense came up with huge plays for us, and Barrett had that big catch,” Evanko said. “A lot of teams have put 10 guys in the box against us. Hunter found him open, and Kyle made the play.”
Despite the big plays for the Tide, Bodamer and the Gators continued to battle back. Again the sophomore led his team down the field with his arm and his legs. Pushing the ball to the Curwensville 24 yard line and looking for more, Bodamer ran out of real estate. Under a heavy rush, Bodamer looked down the right side of the field and put the ball up into the wind for grabs.
Senior defensive back Shae Best stepped in front of the Bodamer pass at the eight-yard line and returned it to the 32. Best on the tackle, however, was hurt and was carried off with a leg injury. The turnover resulted in a punt, and the Gators were back in business.
“Honestly, I think I felt comfortable with our lead with 1:00 to go in the game,” Evanko said. “Port Allegany played hard and kept coming after us.”
Penalties continued to hinder the Tide with an off-side call aiding the ensuing drive. On the fourth play from scrimmage, Bodamer found Stuckey for a 65-yard catch and run to close the score to 30-19. The same combination hooked up for the PAT and the Gators were within nine points with 7:51 left to play.
On the Tide’s next possession, a six-play drive resulted in a punt. With the ball at the Port 26-yard line, the Tide defense closed the door on comeback thoughts.
A second down blitz saw Holland and Starr converging on Bodamer. The hit dislodged the ball at the 15 and bounced off the foot of Jake Pentz who scooped the ball up at the 12 and rumbled into the endzone. Holder Kyle Kyler made a great play to get the ball down for Taylor Bumbarger to split the posts for the 37-21 final with 4:31 to play.
The sack of Bodamer also knocked him from the game. When Garrett Drabert came in on the next series, the Gators moved the ball 24 yards before disaster struck. Drabert mishandled his second snap of the drive and Curwensville recovered to run out the last 2:16 on the clock.
Holland finished the game with 291 yards on the ground to break the D-IX mark. The Tide defense recorded five take-aways on the day – causing six fumbles and an interception. Curwensville now stands at 11-1 on the season and will look to improve that record against Farrell next week.
Score by Quarter
Cameron County 0 7 6 8 – 21
Curwensville 12 0 18 7 – 37
Curwensville: 37-yard run by Holland (kick failed), 8:20.
Curwensville: 59-yard run by Holland (run Failed), 1:54.
Port Allegany: 2-yard pass from Bodamer to Tyce Miller (Kysor kick), 0:20.
Curwensville: 2-yard run by Starr (pass failed), 6:19.
Curwensville: 12-yard fumble recovery by Holland (kick failed), 5:23.
Port Allegany: 16-yard run by Lowery (kick failed), 4:30.
Curwensville: 55-yard pass from McCracken to Barrett (run failed), 2:35.
Port Allegany: 65-yard pass from Bodamer to Stuckey (Pass from Bodamer to Stuckey), 7:51.
Curwensville: 12-yard fumble recovery by Pentz (Bumbarger kick) , 4:31.
CAMERON COUNTY / CURWENSVILLE
FIRST DOWNS: 11 / 12
RUSH YARDS: 80 / 354
PASS YARDS: 181 / 55
TOTAL YARDS: 261 / 409
PENALTIES: 2 / 9
PENALTY YARDS: 10 / 61
11-23-1-1 / 1-6-1-0
FUMBLES: 6 / 1
FUMBLES LOST: 4 / 0
PORT ALLEGANY: Lowery – 11 carries, 59 yards, TD; Bodamer – 9 carries, (-5) yards; Ramadhan – 1 carry, 11 yards, Trey Miller – 1 carry (-1) yard, Drabert – 2 carries, (-1) yard; TOTALS: 24 carries, 63 yards, TD.
CURWENSVILLE: Holand – 44 carries, 291 yards, 2 TD; Dimmick – 5 carries, 28 yards; Starr – 4 carries, 26 yards, TD; Best – 1 carry, 7 yards; TOTAL – 54 carries, 354 yards, 3 TD.
PORT ALLEGANY: Bodamer – 11 for 23, 181 yards, TD, INT.
CURWENSVILLE: McCracken – 1 for 5, 55 yards, TD; Starr- 0 for 1, 0 yards; TOTALS: 1 for 6, 55 yards, TD.
PORT ALLEGANY: Stuckey – 3 receptions, 96 yards, TD; Tyce Miller – 3 receptions, 18 yards, TD; Ramadhan – 3 receptions, 42 yards; Buchanan – 1 reception, 14 yards; Kio – 1 reception, 11 yards; TOTALS – 11 receptions, 181 yards, 2 TD.
CURWENSVILLE: Barrett – 1 reception, 55 yards, TD.