RIDGWAY – Friday night’s poor field conditions didn’t seem to bother the ground game of the Curwensville Area High School football team as the Golden Tide ran for over 400 yards and used a solid defensive second half to defeat Ridgway 36-16. The Tide victory, combined with an Elk County Catholic 42-41 double-overtime loss to Brockway sets all three AML-South title contenders at 5-2 on the season.
The sloppy conditions didn’t hinder Curwensville senior Alex Holland, especially in the second half when he broke away for scores of 67 and 54 yards. Holland rushed for 389 yards on 45 carries which included four touchdowns and two 2-point conversions.
Curwensville’s defense was able to help turn the tables on the hosts in the second half as well and allowed just five first downs and no scoring opportunities in the second half to secure the comeback.
“Ridgway runs the “wing T” offense very well, and it took a little time for us to adjust,” said Curwensville head coach Andy Evanko. “Once we were able to get up to speed we were a little better.
“We are still trying to find the right make-up on the defensive side of the ball. It’s not that any one is any better than the other – any given time anyone on our bench can play up to the potential that we need. We just have to find the right mix in all those times.”
As anticipated the first quarter in Ridgway was a fast paced, run dominated affair. In fact, because of the two running style offenses, the initial 12 minutes of the game had time for only two series of downs.
The Elkers moved the ball effectively after being given the ball first as Curwensville won the coin toss and deferred until the second half. On eight plays, Ridgway covered 40 yards and was driving. However, the ninth play,a fourth-and-four from the Tide 22-yard line, showed Holland in the backfield from his middle linebacker spot to throw Mike Cappiello for an eight-yard loss and the Tide was in business.
Holland carried the ball 14-of-15 opening-drive plays for his squad. The drive covered 70 yards in 8:06 and was culminated by Holland’s three-yard step into the end zone. Holland easily walked in for the PAT and the Tide led 8-0 with :54 left on the first period clock.
The long drive for a score failed to impress the Elkers, however, as the went back to business on their own 46. They lined up twice after the ensuing kick and had the ball on the Curwensville 26-yard line by the end of the first quarter. On the first play of the second quarter, Elker quarterback Jordan Lundin hooked up with split-end Aaron Sorge for a 26-yard TD pass. Eric Matheson tacked on the PAT and the lead was cut to 8-7 with 11:54 remaining in the half.
Ridgway would score two more times before the half. The first score came on a 33-yard field goal by Matheson to give the hosts the lead. The second was a gift at the end of three turnovers.
Curwensville was driving late into the second quarter when Matheson picked off a pass at the Ridgway seven-yard line with :59 left. One play later, Matheson took the ball for a 69-yard walkabout, but was tracked down from behind by sophomore Kyle Johns. Lundin found himself in trouble on the very next play and threw the ball into the hands of Brad Coudriet of the Tide.
Curwensville committed a personal foul on the interception that put them on their own 4-yard line. When Ridgway made some penetration of their own, Tide quarterback Hunter McCracken was bumped and his attempted pitch to Holland fell to the ground and made its way into the end zone. An alert Sorge pounced on the fumble and added a second TD to his night with just nine seconds left in the half. After the first two quarters of play, Ridgway led 16-8.
The second half kick-off set the ball at the Curwensville 23 – it didn’t stay there long. Curwensville rattled off an 11-play drive that was aided by Josh Greslick’s 14 yard run, and a Brad Coudriet dive for four tough yards. Holland did the rest on nine carries for 68 yards including a three-yard plunge for a score. Holland’s point-after run left him virtually untouched and the score was tied 16-16 with 7:47 left in the third quarter.
The Golden Tide defense got very stingy after the score was knotted. At the 4:38 mark, senior outside linebacker Jesse Zorger stepped in front of a Lundin pass – Holland ran for a 67-yard score on the very next play.
Ridgway, then, failed to make a first down and turned it over to their guests. Four plays later, Holland added a 54-yard gallop to the zone with :17 left in the third frame to push the score to 30-16.
Ridgway managed two more first downs in the game and were definitely rattled by the explosiveness of the Tide offense.
“The ball was wet, heavy, slippery, and still the team did well,” said Evanko. “Alex ran hard behind a great effort from the offensive line and great lead blocks. We did what we had to do on a bad field.”
The last score of the game came on the last play of the game. Curwensville’s defense had Lundin in trouble about 20 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Lundin threw back across the field where Greslick timed his step perfectly and sealed the deal with a 52-yard interception return for the 36-16 final.
Brockway’s win would appear to put them in the driver’s seat – having now beaten the two teams that share 5-2 records with them. The Tide would now have to take care of ECC while Brockway would need to lose one of its remaining two games to allow Curwensville a shot at the AML title game. Brockway finishes the season with winless Johnsonburg and Kane. The Wolves defeated the Rams 42-7 Friday night.
Curwensville will travel to meet Elk County at St. Marys High School at 7:00 next week.
Score by Quarters
Curwensville – 8 0 22 6 – 36
Ridgway- 0 16 0 0 – 16
Curwensville: 2-yard run by Holland (Holland run), 00:56
Ridgway: 26-yard pass from Lundin to Sorge (Matheson kick), 11:54
Ridgway: 33-yard field goal by Matheson, 2:50
Ridgway: Caggiano recovers fumble in the end zone, 00:09
Curwensville: 3-yard run by Holland (Holland run), 7:47
Curwensville: 67-yard run by Holland (Greslick run), 4:26
Curwensville: 54-yard run by Holland (run failed), 00:17
Curwensville: 52-yard interception return (no try), 00:00
Curwensville / Ridgway
FIRST DOWNS: 16 / 11
RUSH YARDS: 418 / 208
PASS YARDS: 0 / 95
TOTAL YARDS: 418 / 303
PENALTIES: 5 / 1
PENALTY YARDS: 53 / 5
COMP/ATT/TD/INT: 1-3-0-1 / 7-15-1-2
FUMBLES: 5 / 0
FUMBLES LOST: 1 / 0
CURWENSVILLE: Holland-45 carries, 389 yards, 4 TD’s; Coudriet-2 carries, 7 yards; Gresslick-2 carries, 18 yards; Olson-1 carries, 2 yards; McCracken-2 carries, 6 yards; Team-1 carry, (-4) yards; TOTALS: 53 carries, 418 yards, 4 TD’s.
RI8DGWAY: Matheson-14 carries, 139 yards; Lundin-2 carries, 9 yards; Delhunty-7 carries, 26 yards; Cappiello-13 carries, 34 yards; TOTALS: 36 carries, 208 yards.
CURWENSVILLE: McCracken – 3 attempts, 1 completions, 0 yards, 0 touchdown, 1 interceptions.
RIDGWAY: Lundin- 15 attempts, 7 completions, 95 yards, 1 touchdowns, 2 interception.
CURWENSVILLE: Zorger – 1 reception , 0 yards.
RIDGWAY: Sorge-3 receptions, 41 yards, TD; Matheson:3 receptions, 38 yards; Caggiano-1 reception, 16 yards; TOTALS: 7 reception, 95 yards, TD.