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Keystone Focused on Making Business Trip to Port Allegany a Successful One

KNOX, Pa. (EYT/D9) — They’re going to leave early. The Booster Club is going to provide players with boxed meals for the long trip. When they arrive, they are going to stretch their legs, collect themselves and get ready to play a football game on the road.

For Keystone, the change in itinerary from years’ past is designed to get better results. Recently, long road trips like the one the Panthers will take to Port Allegany Friday night have spelled trouble.

(Photo by Shelly Atzeni)

“Hopefully we can arrive a little bit earlier and get moving around once we’re there, get our legs underneath of us,” said Keystone coach Ryan Smith. “They’re going to get some good food in them on the way up, and they’re going to get fed afterward. So, we’re taking it a little bit differently this time, trying something new so we’re not flat getting off the bus.”

Keystone got off to a slow start last year at Curwensville, but scored 13 points in the fourth quarter to pull out a 26-16 win. Other road trips have produced less-than-desirable first quarters for the Panthers.

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

Smith hopes his team can start faster with more time to collect themselves after the two-hour bus ride to take on the Gators.

Smith also hopes his defense can just keep on doing what it did against rival Redbank Valley in the opener.

The Panthers scored two defensive touchdowns and also returned a kickoff for a score in the 22-20 win. Keystone was held to less than 100 yards of offense, but the defense was stout and made some huge plays.

“I’ve been excited about our defense,” Smith said.

Keystone will find another team in Port Allegany that has a potent offense.

Quarterback Drew Evens threw for more than 200 yards and a pair of scores and Noah Archer was a dual threat as a receiver and a runner as the Gators rolled past Otto-Eldred, 34-0.

Archer had nearly 120 yards receiving and rushing and scored two TDs. Blaine Moses also rushed for 85 yards for Port Allegany.

“They’re really speedy,” Smith said of the Gators. “They have a really good quarterback in Drew Evens and they have a big offensive line. They have a really big fullback in Blaine Moses and they are coming off a big win. We have to come and play as hard as we did against Redbank.”

Smith isn’t sensing a letdown after such a huge triumph over a rival last week.

“It’s business as usual,” Smith said. “The kids are pretty excited, obviously, after picking up that big win, but they’re right back getting ready for Port Allegany. They’re right back focusing on the next opponent.”

Even though Keystone didn’t pile up a ton of yardage, the offense was efficient enough to grind some clock and keep the dangerous Redbank Valley offense off the field.

The Panthers ran the ball 37 times for 79 yards and ran as many offensive plays at the Bulldogs despite having three fewer possessions.

“I really thought by us controlling the time on the clock, we were able to wear down Redbank’s defensive line,” Smith said. “That helped us then with our defensive line. We were able to get good penetration while we were on defense and get pressure on their quarterbacks.”

Smith, though, hopes to have a more 50-50 split when it comes to run and pass. Port Allegany is the same — the Gators like to stay balanced.

“They can hit you one way or another,” Smith said of Port Allegany. “We want to be 50-50 in our game plans. The Redbank game was a different type of game where we didn’t want to be throwing the ball all the time. We wanted to control the clock. This week, hopefully, we’ll get back to that balance.”

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