Curwensville’s ground game pummels Cameron CountyWritten by: Josh Funk on Saturday, November 20th, 2010
BROCKWAY, Pa. – Former Brockway head football coach Ray Reckner brought some food items up to the pressbox early Saturday afternoon, and among the items were a pack of Nestle Crunch chocolate bars.
Curwensville proceeded to crunch the Cameron County defense with its featured tailback, Alex Holland.
Holland ran for 246 yards and scored two touchdowns as the Golden Tide (10-1) amassed 396 yards of total offense against the Red Raiders (8-4) in a 22-13 victory Saturday evening in a District 9 Class A semifinal played at Brockway’s Frank Varischetti Field. With the victory, Curwensville will face Port Allegany (7-4), a 24-17 victor over Redbank Valley next Saturday, Nov. 27, at 1 p.m. in the District 9 Class A championship game, which will be played at Brockway.
Holland said he embraces the role of workhorse in Curwensville’s power-I offense – and he’s lived up to expectations. Through 11 games, #36 has run for 2,228 yards and 26 touchdowns.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Holland said.
And the win over the Raiders was especially meaningful for Holland.
“That means we’re playing for the District 9 championship,” Holland said.
Curwensville head coach Andy Evanko made certain to emphasize the Golden Tide are more than just #36.
“We’ve got a lot of guys in that (locker) room that have put in a lot of effort to be the best that they can possibly be,” Evanko said. “We’ve got a great offensive line and a fantastic running back.”
And Evanko also has a two-quarterback rotation he can use at his disposal, in sophomore Hunter McCracken and senior Alec Starr.
“It’s kind of worked out for us,” Evanko said.
McCracken and Starr were effective this night, combining for 124 yards through the air and a touchdown. McCracken accounted for the scoring pass – a 23-yard strike to Shane Hoover – with 1:24 left in the first half to push the Tide advantage to 15-7. Curwensville got on the board with a 20-yard run from Alex Holland. That initial score was set up by a 20-yard Holland run on a faked punt and a Starr 13-yard pass to Hoover. Holland also ran in a two-point conversion to give the Tide an 8-7 lead with 5:49 left in the half.
After a scoreless first quarter which ended with three total turnovers on downs (two for Cameron County and one for Curwensville), things heated up in the second period.
Two plays after Tide offensive lineman Kyle Scribe was taken from the field in an ambulance with an apparent leg injury, McCracken fumbled the ball away and Cameron County’s Aaron Burnside raced 43 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 Raider lead.
“There were two things we talked about leading up to this game,” said Cameron County head coach Mark Morelli. “One, we had to win the turnover battle. And second, we had to be physical and stout on the line of scrimmage. They (Curwensville) keep pounding on you and pounding on you. They’re tough.”
Curwensville’s drive to its initial touchdown followed the Burnside fumble return and featured seven rushes by Holland. Curwensville’s second scoring drive was aided by two Raider 15-yard penalties called in rapid succession of each other – a questionable pass interference penalty and an unsportsmanlike conduct foul arguing the call.
But Cameron County responded almost immediately to keep the game close. Junior field general Zack Austin hit Vince Summers for 14 yards before scampering 42 yards to the Golden Tide 8 yard line. Jason Blose punched in from eight yards out on the next play, and the Raiders sliced the Curwensville lead to just 15-13 after a failed two point conversion.
Curwensville advanced to the CC 6 yard line with just :01 left in the half on Starr passes of 30 yards to Hoover and 18 yards to Shae Best, but Holland only gained a yard on a near-side toss as time expired.
The Tide’s first two possessions of the second half ended in turnovers – a McCracken interception and a turnover on downs – but the Tide’s third possession put the game out of reach.
Holland exploded for runs of 39 and 16 yards within the first three plays of the drive, and wound up accounting for all 87 yards of the 10-play, 5:11 march, capped with a 10-yard scoring run with 3:44 left in the game.
Best picked off Austin on the Raiders’ ensuing possession, and three Holland runs and a Starr kneel down put Curwensville in its first District 9 championship game for the first time since 2006.
Zach Dimmick added 33 yards on six rushes for the Tide. Hoover caught six passes for 106 yards and Best caught one pass for 18 yards and picked off two passes defensively. Starr threw for 71 yards and McCracken 53. Both completed four passes. Hoover caught six passes for 106 yards to pace the receiving corps.
Austin paced the Raiders’ ground attack with 114 yards on 12 carries and completed 6-of-14 passes for 69 yards. Blose added 56 yards on 17 totes and caught two passes for 26 yards.
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