DUBOIS – With a trip to the District IX Championship on the line, the Curwensville Area High School football team came up on the short end of a 28-22 score against Redbank Valley Saturday afternoon. The Golden Tide’s final drive was stopped two yards short of a first down on the Bulldogs’ 26-yard line with 1:00 left to play.
Redbank Valley scored 28 points in the first half and was able to cling to the lead throughout the final 24 minutes to move on to the district finals.
Struggling in the early going, Curwensville was forced to punt in their first two possessions – both stops turned into points for the Bulldogs. After gaining just four yards on the opening drive, the punt and return set the visitors up on the Curwensville 45-yard line. Junior quarterback Jake Dougherty opened up the offense with a 13-yard gain. The Tide then helped out with a 5-yard penalty before senior tailback Mark Strothers found the end zone from 27-yards out. Zane Watson, who went perfect on the day, added the extra-point for the 7-0 start.
The ensuing drive saw the Tide mount a 12-play drive before stalling at the RV 38-yard line. Curwensville punted for a touch back and the Bulldogs took over at their own 20. The scoring drive featured a 19-yard pass to Mitch Blose and a 59-yard jaunt by Strothers before Dougherty walked in from two-yards out for the 14-0 advantage with 2:29 left in the first quarter.
While the offense for Curwensville still faltered, after the team’s third punt of the afternoon, the defense started to exert itself. On the first play following the punt, Kyle Billings closed the gap to separate the ball from Close. Alex Olson located the loose ball and scampered 25 yards for a touchdown. Jason Thorp added the PAT to close the gap to 14-7 with :54 left in the opening frame.
Two plays later, the Tide’s A.J. Bloom also found the ball on the ground at mid-field and returned it to the Redbank 30 to set the offense up with good field position. Six plays later, Zach Tibbens found running room to the right side and dove in for the score. The Bulldogs were caught off-sides on the extra-point and quarterback Kyle Johns broke the plane to give the Black and Gold a 15-14 advantage.
“If we do what we’re supposed to do in the first half, the whole game could have been different,” said Tide coach Andy Evanko. “Redbank just made the big plays when they needed them , and we didn’t when we needed it.”
Curwensville’s advantage was short-lived despite backing up the Bulldogs on the ensuing kick-off. The Tide looked to have changed the momentum with the ball on the 15-yard line on a second-down-and-seven play. Strothers patiently waited for his gap to open and he outran everyone for an 85-yard touchdown that gave his team the lead for good with 8:27 left in the second quarter.
Less than five minutes later, Dougherty was scoring again from four yards out to set the score at 28-15 with 3:33 left in the half. Curwensville could muster only a field-goal attempt in the remaining minutes of the half. Thorp missed the 37-yard attempt as it bounced off the left upright.
“We needed to make some adjustments to our blocking schemes,” said Evanko. “After we did that, we did okay, but just couldn’t put the finishing touches on this game.”
The start of the second half looked bleak for the Golden Tide as sophomore Connor Shoemaker returned the kick-off 45 yards to the Tide 33. However, six plays later the defense flexed again and Curwensville senior Ricky Magnuson found the ball on the 22.
Tibbens carried the ball eight times for 69 yards, Olson earned eight yards on two hauls, and Johns finished the 11-play drive with a 1-yard plunge to set the score at 28-22 at the 5:27 mark of the third quarter.
Curwensville would have the ball just two more times in the contest as both teams mounted lengthy drives that came up empty. During this span several players from both teams showed the signs of their effort as muscles began to cramp in the calm autumn afternoon. Curwensville had the last chance in the fourth quarter to come back one more time, but fell short, leaving everything on the field.
“Let’s talk about this special group of seniors,” Evanko prefaced with all of them by name. “They came out each day doing what they needed to do to make this a very successful season. Each one of them certainly made an impact on the Golden Tide football program. And how about coming out here to a quad-A football stadium and filling up the home side with black and gold – what community support we have for our program. We are living a dream every day we get to play in a Golden Tide uniform.”
Curwensville bows out of the 2013 season with a 9-2 slate. Tibbens finished his last game for the Black and Gold with 47 carries for 220 yards and a touchdown. Tibbens ended the season with 2,346 yards on the ground. Olson added 41 yards on eight carries for the day with a defensive score. Strothers ran 20 times for Redbank to gain 245 yards and score twice. Dougherty scored twice on 10 runs for 42 yards.
Redbank Valley (8-3) will face unbeaten Clarion (12-0) next week in the district finale. Clarion ousted Brockway on Saturday 56-12 to earn its spot in the title game. Clarion defeated the Bulldogs in the regular season 50-0. The site and time for the District IX Championship game has yet to be announced.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Redbank Valley – 14 14 0 0 – 28
Curwensville – 7 8 7 0 – 22
Redbank Valley: 27-yard run by Strothers (Watson kick), 09:18.
Redbank Valley: 2-yard run by Dougherty (Watson kick), 02:29.
Curwensville: 25-yard fumble recovery by Olson (Thorp kick), 00:53.
Curwensville: 6-yard run by Tibbens (Johns run), 09:41.
Redbank Valley: 85-yard run by Strothers (Watson kick), 08:27.
Redbank Valley: 4-yard run by Dougherty (Watson kick), 03:33.
Curwensville: 1-yard run by Johns (Thorp kick), 05:28.
Redbank Valley / Curwensville
FIRST DOWNS: 9 /16
RUSH YARDS: 283/279
PASS YARDS: 39 / 11
TOTAL YARDS: 322 /290
PENALTIES: 5/ 4
PENALTY YARDS: 26.5 / 14
COMP/ATT/TD/INT: 4-12-0-0/ 2-12-0-0
FUMBLES: 5 / 0
FUMBLES LOST: 3/0
REDBANK VALLEY: Strothers – 20 carries, 245 yards, 2 TD; Blose – 2 carries, (-6) yards; Dougherty – 10 carries, 42 yards, 2 TD; Hornberger – 1 carry 0 yards; Shrecengost – 1 carry, 2 yards; Team – 2 carries, (-3) yards.
CURWENSVILLE: Tibbens – 47 carries, 220 yards, 1 TD; Olson – 8 carries, 41 yards, TD; Johns – 4 carries, 19 yards, 1 TD; McKenzie – 1 carry, (-1) yard.
REDBANK VALLEY: Dougherty – 12 attempts, 4 completions, 39 yards.
CURWENSVILLE: Johns – 12 attempts, 2 completion, 11 yards; Tibbens – 1 attempts, 0 completions, 0 yards.
REDBANK VALLEY: Blose – 1 receptions, 19 yards; Schrecengost – 2 receptions, 23 yards; Strothers – 1 receptions, (-3) yards.
CURWENSVILLE: Lansberry – 1 reception, 9 yards; Olson – 1 reception, 2 yards.
Final Golden Tide Scoreboard:
|08/30||COUDERSPORT||34 – 26||1 – 0|
|09/06||@ Cameron County||21 – 20||2 – 0|
|09/13||SMETHPORT||42 – 13||3 – 0|
|09/20||@ St. Joe’s Catholic Academy||25 – 7||4 – 0|
|09/27||@ Kane||8 – 42||4 – 1|
|10/04||BROCKWAY||42 – 22||5 – 1|
|10/11||@ Ridgway||27 – 24||6 – 1|
|10/19||@ Elk County Catholic||35 – 8||7 – 1|
|10/25||SHEFFIELD||38 – 14||8 – 1|
|District 9 A Playoffs|
|11/8||vs. SHEFFIELD||56 – 32||9 – 1|
|11/16||vs. Redbank Valley||22 – 28||9 – 2|