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Keystone, Smethport Square Off Friday Night in Battle of One-Loss Teams

SMETHPORT, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Ryan Smith broke down the film of a game that got away from his Keystone football team last Thursday night.

It didn’t make the coach feel much better.

There were plays to be made. A missed block here. A broken tackle there. A dropped pass. A missed open receiver.

(Photo by Shelly Atzeni)

All those things conspired to hand Smith and Keystone a most frustrating 26-24 loss to Union/A-C Valley in a game the Panthers led by 18 points at one point.

“We had some guys open,” Smith said. “We dropped a few passes and were one block away in different situations after reviewing the tape from springing a big run. That’s the way it is. Football comes down to blocking and tackling and we did that some of the time. We just have to be more consistent.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

Keystone scored on special teams on the opening kickoff, returned an interception for a score and had a short TD run by quarterback Bret Wingard set up by a blocked punt. But other than an 80-yard touchdown pass from Wingard to Tyler Albright, the offense sputtered against the Falcon Knights.

It doesn’t get any easier this week as Keystone squares off against another top team in District 9 Class A when it makes the trek to Smethport Friday night.

Like Keystone (5-1), Smethport (6-1) has just one loss.

The Panthers’ defense has been strong all season and it was again against Union/A-C Valley. That unit will be challenged this week by Smethport quarterback Noah Lent.

The senior bounced back from a tough game in a loss to Redbank Valley with 157 yards rushing and three touchdowns in a 28-0 blanking of Cameron County.

It was also a nice bounce-back win for the Hubbers after the home loss to Redbank.

“Like we said to them, this was a game that was going to show our character as a team,” said Smethport coach Adam Jack.

Lent also showed some character, shaking off his own rough game.

Lent has rushed for 1,168 yards and 19 touchdowns this season to go with 740 yards and 15 TDs through the air for the Hubbers.

“Noah Lent is the real deal,” Smith said. “He does it all. He also punts, kicks, has most of their touches during the game. Just like I’m sure everyone’s gameplan is, our main gameplan is to stop Lent.”

That’s been the trick, though. No one, except for Redbank Valley, has been able to do it.

Keystone, though, has the defensive chops to contain Lent.

That unit forced five Union/A-C Valley turnovers last week and has 24 takeaways in six games this season.

The defense and special teams also have scored five TDs.

“I like our defense against anybody,” Smith said.

“Every Ryan Smith coached team we’ve played, you can count on them to play good defense and run the ball,” Jack said. “Their defense has created turnovers and scored points off turnovers. They’ve been very opportunistic.”

The key for Keystone Friday, though, may be how the offense performs.

Smethport’s defense has also been stout — and perhaps overlooked in the wake of what Lent has done on the other side of the ball.

The Hubbers are giving up just 12 points per game and have posted two shutouts.

Senior middle linebacker Travis Cooney has a team-leading 59 tackles — 11 for a loss — and six quarterback sacks.

Smethport has 24 sacks as a team this season.

“Travis is a four-year starter,” Jack said. “He works really hard. He’s in the weight room in the offseason. He studies film on a regular basis and he’s also blessed with athletic ability and instinct.”

Keystone’s offense is led by Wingard, who has completed 39 of 100 for 619 yards and eight touchdowns this season. Albright has 13 receptions for 256 yards and three of those scores.

Kyle Nellis was held in check last week, but has 527 yards on the ground and four touchdowns.

“We have to move on,” Smith said. “We’re moving on to Smethport to give it our best and try to overcome some injuries. We’re going to play hard and be ready.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

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