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Mistakes hurt Curwensville in the first half.
Elker mistakes and Alex Holland put Curwensville ahead for good in the second half.
Holland rushed for 391 yards on 48 carries as Curwensville scored 28 unanswered points for a 36-16 victory over Ridgway Friday night on a muddy Memorial Field.
"It was a tale of two halves," Ridgway coach Mark Heindl said. "We did everything right in the first half and we couldn't do anything right in the second half. I take complete responsibility for that. We went in at the half and we had the momentum. We knew if we could stop Alex going into that first drive in the second half, we had something there."
With Ridgway (4-3 overall, 1-2 AML South) up 16-8 at halftime, the Golden Tide took the opening kickoff and started from its own 22-yard line. On a 2nd-and-7 from the 36, Holland ran for 22 yards but fumbled at the end of the play.
"That fumble, we thought that was our ball coming back this way," Heindl said. "That ended up changing the tide a little bit. A credit to Curwensville, in the second half they regrouped and came back. The second half was my fault. I'll take the heat for that."
Curwensville (5-2, 2-1) was able to retain possession. Six plays later, Holland scored on a 3-yard touchdown run and then duplicated the feat with the 2-point conversion to tie the game at 16.
Ridgway started the ensuing possession with good starting field position at its own 41-yard line. The Elkers converted a first down on a 3rd-and-1 at midfield as Curwensville jumped offside. Cappiello then ran for a 24-yard gain and a 5-yard gain to set up the Elkers in the red zone. The next play saw an interception by Curwensville's Jesse Zorger to set up the Golden Tide at the Ridgway 32-yard line.
"Going into the half, we explained to the kids that there was a lot of football left to be played," Heindl said. "Curwensville, they did that in those 24 minutes. Our kids battled in the second half. They got themselves into position where we could have scored. Turnovers at the wrong times came back to haunt us."
The next play saw Holland gallop 68 yards for a Curwensville touchdown and a 24-16 lead after Josh Greslick ran in the 2-point conversion.
"We tried to make adjustments," Heindl said. "There were times we were in position and we missed a tackle and there were times they just manned up and took it right to us. Those are things that we're going to work on this week, it will be addressed."
The Elkers started its next possession near midfield once again at its own 48-yard line. Ridgway advanced to the 40 of Curwensville after a face-mask penalty. Ridgway could not convert a first down after the penalty and turned the ball over on downs. Holland burned the Ridgway defense four plays later for a 54-yard touchdown run to put Curwensville ahead 30-16 with 14 seconds left in the third quarter.
"Alex holds onto the ball very well, he's a heck of an athlete, a heck of a running back," Curwensville coach Andy Evanko said. "We had great lead blockers with Zorger and Coudriet and great guys up front. We had to do what was working."
Holland was most of the Golden Tide's offense as he accounted for 391 of the team's 419 total yards, all on the ground.
Curwensville tried a surprise onside kick but could not get the ball as Ridgway started from the Golden Tide 48-yard line. But Ridgway again failed to convert on the good field position as Curwensville held Ridgway on four straight plays as the fourth quarter commenced.
The Golden Tide drove the ball down to the Ridgway 11-yard line but a fumble recovery by Steve Mitchell of the Elkers snuffed out the Curwensville scoring chance. Ridgway had to punt on its next possession and Curwensville would turn the ball over on downs.
A late effort by Ridgway turned out to add points to the scoreboard for the Golden Tide. On the final play of the game, Greslick intercepted a pass in the middle of the field and ran 52 yards for a touchdown to round out the scoring. Curwensville had three interceptions on the game.
Ridgway took the opening kickoff and worked the ball methodically down the field in nine plays. The Elkers had a 4th-and-4 at the Curwensville 22 but the Golden Tide was able to garner an 8-yard loss on a running play, turning the ball over on downs.
Curwensville started from its own 30 and slowly worked the ball down the field. The Golden Tide had two fortitiuous bounces in a row on back-to-back plays. On 3rd-and-8 at the Ridgway 12, quarterback Hunter McCracken ran an option play to Holland. The pitch was off the mark but Holland was able to tip the ball back to himself before the ball hit the ground. The play went for a 3-yard loss but the Golden Tide were able to retain possession. On the next play, Holland dropped the handoff but the ball bounced back into his breadbasket as he went 14 yards on a 4th-and-11 for a first down one yard from paydirt. Holland took the ball in from a yard out for the game's first points and the first of his four rushing touchdowns.
Ridgway quickly answered the Curwensville score in just three plays as Ridgway quarterback Jordan Lundin found a wide open receiver in Aaron Sorge for a 25-yard connection to put Ridgway within one at 8-7.
Curwensville punted from midfield on its next possession as did Ridgway. Curwensville punted again and Ridgway was able to drive into the red zone as the half wound down. Kicker Eric Matheson booted a field goal from 33 yards out in sloppy field conditions to put Ridgway ahead 10-8 with 2:50 to go before halftime.
Ridgway kicked the ball out of bounds on the kickoff and Curwensville made the kickoff team try it again. The retry led to the Golden Tide having possession at the 47-yard line. Holland ran the first play of the drive for 22 yards but it could have been much worse as Zac McKnight made a shoestring tackle to save the touchdown. Two plays later, McCracken threw a wobbly interception to Matheson as Ridgway started from its own 15-yard line. That would be Curwensville's last pass of the night.
Matheson broke through on offense with a 69-yard run down the right side. A personal foul penalty against the Golden Tide put the ball at the 8-yard line. The Curwensville defense made a stand though as Brad Coudriet intercepted a Lundin pass at the Golden Tide 4-yard line. With only seconds remaining in the half, Curwensville fumbled the snap and the ball bounded into the end zone where Ridgway's Kyle Caggiano fell on it for the touchdown and a 16-8 halftime lead for the Elkers.
"They had the most mistakes in the first half with those fumbles and we had the most mistakes in the second half," Heindl said. "They capitalized on it and that's the way the score ended up."
Ridgway will finish the season with three straight road games. The Elkers' first test will be next Friday as Ridgway travels to play Kane (4-3, 1-2) for a 7 p.m. matchup.
"They got to build from it and learn from it," Heindl said. "They'll keep coming back and working hard. There's still a lot of football left to be played. We still have three weeks left and technically we're still the No. 8 seed. We got to keep fighting and keep working."
NOTES: Matheson led the Elkers with 144 yards on 13 carries with 129 of those yards coming in the first half. Sorge led Ridgway with 40 receiving yards and three receptions.
Before the game, Ridgway had Senior Night for the football players, cheerleaders and band. The following seniors were a part of their respective groups this season and are listed below:
n Band Seniors: Tad Pierce and Greg Paige.
n Cheerleading Seniors: Amanda Maddalena, Bailey Smith, Brooke Johnson, Carly Popson, Emily Ames, Jenn Parker, Kendall Jordan, Mary Krewduk, Michelle Buhler, Morgan Herzing, Samantha Covac, Samantha Kovalyak, Shelby Lewis.
n Football Seniors: Aaron Sorge, Alex Oknefski, Anthony Palumbo, Chad Quail, Chris Woods, Dustin Blauser, Eric Matheson, Jake Himes, Jared Casolo, Jordan Lundin, Kyle Caggiano, Mike Cappiello, Sam Torrez, Trevor Sandberg, Steve Mitchell.