DUBOIS, Pa. – A tale of two halves.
(Photos by Jared Bakaysa of JB Graphics. See more of Bakaysa’s work here)
After a scoreless first half and 74 yards of offense, top-seeded Coudersport exploded for 290 yards and 42 points (36 in the fourth quarter) to earn its second consecutive District 9 Class 1A title with a 42-13 victory over second-seeded Redbank Valley at E.J. Mansell Stadium in DuBois Saturday afternoon
“That’s what we came here to do,” Coudersport head coach Tom Storey said. “As coaches, our job is to build a culture and a program. It’s a winning program and it means a lot to us. These guys are hopping on board and you can see it in the young guys too.”
Relisten to the game:
Trailing 7-6 entering the fourth quarter, Kolby VanWhy picked up a Hayden Keck fumble on a fourth-and-2 run from the 3 in the end zone to put the Falcons up 14-7 after a successful two-point conversion.
The drive was set up after John Minor picked off quarterback Kobe Bonanno, who replaced an injured Cam Wagner – who early in the season and replaced an injured Gunner Mangintini at quarterback 0 in the second quarter, and returned it back to the Bulldogs 15-yard line.
“We kind of had the mindset that we had to score three times today,” Redbank Valley head coach Blane Gold said. “The defense did a phenomenal job in the first half, even into the third quarter. But we were just so limited (on offense). Kobe is the third quarterback we have used this season. It just completely limited everything we wanted to do.”
On the interception, Redbank Valley hurried to get the play off, and that miscommunication may have been the difference.
“We had miscommunication,” Gold said. “Some guys not on the same page, and it turned the tide for everything.”
Change the tide, indeed.
From there, Coudersport went on a 36-6 run to finish the game.
“It feels great after all the work we put in throughout the season,” Keck said. “In the first half we started off slow, but we know how to win we wanted to start off strong (after halftime) and make it happen again.”
The Bulldogs took an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter after a Chase Bish interception.
From there, Redbank Valley went 24 yards in seven plays that was capped off with a one-yard dive by Bonanno.
Austin Leasure picked off Keck yet again in Coudersport territory, setting the Bulldogs up at the Falcons 32.
The Bulldogs failed to capitalize and fell short nine yards short of the endzone on a fourth-down conversion.
“We didn’t take advantage of the second interception,” Gold said. “We could have gone up 14-0. They took advantage of the turnovers (we had).
Coudersport responded with a 17-play, 90-yard drive that fell a yard short from scoring after Keck was stopped out of bounds at the Bulldogs one-yard line.
The Falcons received the second-half kickoff and started to get the run game going.
Keck got Coudersport on the board with a 22-yard run that capped off a seven-play drive with 50 yards all on the ground.
“That was very important,” Storey said, “That set the tone. We told them that we own the second half and we put a few touchdowns up on the board.”
Following the VanWhy score, Redbank Valley looked to be driving after Bonanno found Sam Hetrick for a 54=yard gain in the air on third down but a fumble the very next play gave the ball right back to Coudersport.
Coudersport capitalized and extended the lead to 20-7 on a 19-yard touchdown run by Dylan Kelly. The highlight of the drive was a 61-yard run by Brandt Kightlinger on the first play after the interception.
The Falcons forced a three-and-out on the ensuing Bulldogs drive and Jacob Pitcher went 53 yards to extend the lead 28-7.
The Bulldogs fumbled on the kickoff, giving the Falcons the ball and Kightlinger added another score to make it 35-7 on a 2-yard run.
Coudersport scored 21 points off of the three Bulldogs turnovers.
“It’s a huge part defensively,” Keck said of winning the turnover game. “We want to come out strong and that completely deletes their offense.”
Watch Keck’s postgame interview.
The Bulldogs got their only score of the second half with Ethan Hetrick throwing a 73-yard touchdown pass to Sam Hetrick on a reverse pass to cut the deficit to 35-13 with 5 minutes left in the game.
Sam Hetrick was the leading Bulldogs receiver with three catches for 123 yards. Ray Shreckengost was the leading rusher with 14 carries for 29 yards while Bonnano added 18 yards on six carries. Wagner was 5-of-10 with 55 yards before exiting the game with an injury in the second quarter.
Keck put the game away with a six-yard touchdown run on the next Falcons possession to finish the game at 42-13.
Keck finished the game with 13 carries for 51 yards and a pair of touchdowns while also throwing for 53 yards on two completions. Kightlinger led the Falcons running attack with 108 yards on 12 carries while Dylan Kelly rushed nine times for 87 yards and a touchdown.
Coudersport will face District 10 Champion, Farrell, that is fresh off a 60-14 win over Tussey Mountain, in the first round of the PIAA playoffs at a site and time to be determined.