PORT ALLEGANY GATORS (0-4)
CURWENSVILLE GOLDEN TIDE (4-0)
Sept. 22, 2016
Even in Port Allegany’s better football seasons, a matchup against Curwensville usually ended up as a loss on the Gators’ schedule. Port has only beaten the Golden Tide once since the Clearfield County team joined the Allegheny Mountain League in 1999, and never at Riverside Stadium, the site of this year’s contest.
That streak continued on Friday night, with the Tide rolling to five second-quarter touchdowns on the way to a 63-6 victory, remaining unbeaten at 4-0, while Port dropped to 0-4 in its run through the gauntlet of the AML South.
With team rushing leader Trey Stiles added to the injury report, the already-overmatched Gators were forced to send out as many as five freshmen at a time against the deep, physical Tide.
“I told them at halftime, it’s not fair you guys have to play,” coach Justin Bienkowski said of his first-year varsity players. “I didn’t mean that in a derogatory manner at all; I told them that it’s unfair that you’re asked to have to play against maybe not the best team in the league, but certainly as physical as the best team in the league. But they didn’t back down. They tried.”
Jake Kallenborn scored the first Gator touchdown touchdown of the season on a 15-yard run early in the fourth quarter, stopping an 18-quarter scoreless streak that dated back to the first quarter of last year’s District 9 playoff game against Kane.
“The kids were excited,” Bienkowski said, “and they should have been. I was proud of them, happy that they were able to see some kind of success.”
For the game, the junior quarterback was 8-of-18 for 117 yards and an interception, with Devin Gustin (five catches, 60 yards) and Jared Mahon (2-53) his favorite targets. Curwensville’s Bryce Timko went 5-for-6 with three touchdowns, while standout running back Nick Stewart added 161 yards and three scores on the ground.
With the crossover part of the schedule finally in the rear view mirror, the Gators enter AML North play with the same 0-0 division record as the other five teams, which collectively managed just one win in 24 games against the South. Bienkowski reminded his team of that fact after the game, telling them, “We have just as much right to win the North as any of the other five teams do, because that’s the only record that counts.”
The defending division champs begin defending their title with a trip to Otto-Eldred on Friday night. The Terrors are also 0-4, but threw a scare into Bradford last week before the Class AAAA school managed to escape with a 14-6 win.
“They couldn’t hit any big plays, but they drove the ball,” Bienkowski said after watching the game film.
O-E running back Seth Drummond is a definite threat despite continuing to battle the lingering effects of a knee injury which ended his junior season, and the Gators will also have to be wary of the pass-catch combination of Drummond’s younger brother, Sawyer, and ends Grant West and Garret Babcock.
“They’re struggling up front, so that will minimize some of the sheer overpower-up-the-middle type of glitches we’ve seen. It’ll be a fun night. We’ll look to play, look to compete for four quarters. Some type of productive football, unlike the first four weeks,” Bienkowski said.
“The message that I told the kids at the end of the game on Friday night was, not that we didn’t want to try to win these first four games, but we always want to be realistic. Now our goals is to put crooked numbers in the win column. We need to figure out a way to compete. We have to start trying to put together drives, change field position in our favor, not just bandage up our wounds and get through four quarters. We want to win.”
|Score by quarters:|
|Port Allegany Gators||0||0||0||6||–||6|
|Curwensville Golden Tide||15||35||7||6||–||63|
C (6:23) – Nick Stewart 2 run; Stewart run, 0-8
C (0:49) – Alec Opaliski 24 fumble return; Madison Weber kick, 0-15
C (11:50) – Zach Marshall 29 pass from Bryce Timko; Weber kick, 0-22
C (10:06) – Avery Francisco 17 pass from Timko; Weber kick, 0-29
C (8:34) – Stewart 46 run; Weber kick, 0-36
C (6:37) – Caleb Withering 19 run; Weber kick, 0-43
C (5:29) – Eli Jacobs 20 pass from Timko; Weber kick, 0-50
C (10:55) – Stewart 70 run; Weber kick, 0-57
PA (10:01) – Jake Kallenborn 15 run; kick blocked, 6-57
C (1:20) – Blake Mozzarella 26 run; pass failed, 6-63
First downs: Port 12, Curwensville 15. Rushes-Yds: Port 25-14, Curwensville 23-246. C-A-I: Port 8-18-1, Curwensville 5-6-0. Passing yards: Port 117, Curwensville 90. Total offense: Port 131, Curwensville 336. Fumbles-Lost: Port 1-1, Curwensville 0-0. Punts-Avg: Port 3-28.3, Curwensville 0. Penalties-Yds: Port 10-70, Curwensville 5-35. Plays: Port 43, Curwensville 29.