JOHNSONBURG – Curwensville benefited from downhill running all night long in a 41-0 rout against Johnsonburg Friday night.
Curwensville (4-0) continued their winning ways with over 400 yards of total offense, including 302 yards on the ground, to topple Johnsonburg (1-3).
Curwensville senior starting quarterback Hunter McCracken had his biggest game of the season, passing for 125 yards and a touchdown. But the night belonged to the Golden Tide running attack as five players combined for 302 yards on the ground and five rushing scores.
Senior running back Josh Greslick paced all players with 94 yards and also added a touchdown to open the game. Fellow senior running back Brad Coudriet added two scores while junior running backs Alex Olson and Zach Tibbens each added a touchdown for the Golden Tide.
"We didn't match up very well and you have to give Curwensville credit because they have a great program. They didn't do anything special by any means, they just have several talented running backs and we weren't strong enough to match them," said Johnsonburg head varsity football coach Jesse Schreiber. "We knew Curwensville had a strong offensive line and they did a nice job. Their line is solid because they know their system and they don't run many different plays, they just run what they do very well."
Johnsonburg senior Mitchell Holmberg continued his impressive pace for the Rams as he caught seven passes for 72 yards and also intercepted a McCracken offering. Holmberg has intercepted five passes in the last three games. He was kept out of the end zone, however, as the Rams lost their second shutout in four games.
He caught a 15-yard pass early in the first quarter from senior starting quarterback Frank Kocjancic to reach midfield but the Rams would later turn the ball over on downs. Curwensville wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, going 57 yards in just four plays, aided by a 15-yard penalty against the Rams. Greslick stormed into the end zone from two yards out to take the early 6-0 lead.
The usually reliable Holmberg would fumble the kickoff, giving possession back to the Golden Tide as they used a hard rushing attack with the short field to score again. A four-yard run from Coudriet gave Curwensville a 12-0 lead with 3:10 to go in the opening quarter.
A 15-yard hookup from Kocjancic to Holmberg was the only highlight of the Rams' next possession before they had to punt the ball away. Sheldon's boot rolled all the way to the 20-yard line, a 50-yard punt for the senior.
Curwensville, however, was met with little defensive opposition as they marched into the end zone in 10 plays, culminating with a 40-yard touchdown pass from McCracken to senior split end Jordan Russell with 9:17 on the clock in the second quarter. A two-point conversion run from Tibbens gave the visitors a 20-0 lead.
A pass on third down from Kocjancic was nearly picked off by Coudriet on the next possession, forcing another Johnsonburg punt. Greslick and Olson accounted for 54 yards on the nine-play drive which ended as Olson sprinted home down the right sideline from 28 yards out for the score. An extra point from senior Spencer Smeal gave Curwensville a 27-0 lead.
Starting on their own 16-yard line with 4:04 on the clock, the Rams benefited from a personal foul called on Curwensville senior Brad Stubbs, a play that resulted in Stubbs' ejection from the game. With the ball at the Johnsonburg 46-yard line, Kocjancic was only able to manage a pass for seven yards. A pass on third down was dropped before Kocjancic was stood up on 4th-and-3 to turn the ball over on downs.
Holmberg would later pick off a sideline bomb from McCracken and the Rams would regain possession on their own 28-yard line before halftime.
With the game in hand, Curwensville continued to use their reliable running backs to kill the clock and preserve the win.
The Golden Tide came out with 10 straight rushing plays to start the third quarter before McCracken was forced to throw. Facing 4th-and-8 from the Johnsonburg 41-yard line, McCracken was picked off by Kocjancic, who scampered back for a five-yard return.
A Kocjancic offering on first down was immediately intercepted by junior defensive back Kyle Johns, who then promptly fumbled the football. Johnsonburg senior Kyle Sheldon grabbed the loose ball, effectively giving the Rams a decent gain to the Curwensville 37-yard line.
The Rams couldn't progress any further, however, and turned the ball over on downs after a three-yard pass to Holmberg was not enough for a first down.
"We had some receivers who didn't catch the ball and couldn't capitalize," Schreiber said. "There were a few on the first drive with a guy open and it possibly could've been six points but you have to make those plays. We made them last week but we didn't make them [Friday]."
Curwensville then ran off an eight-play drive, capped off by a 12-yard trek from Tibbens for a 33-0 lead with 58 seconds remaining in the third quarter. A Smeal extra point gave the Golden Tide the 34-0 advantage.
Kocjancic hooked up with Holmberg for a 20-yard reception early in the fourth quarter but fumbled the ball away to Curwensville on the Johnsonburg 45-yard line. Thanks to four rushes of 25 yards by Greslick, the Golden Tide soon found the end zone again. Coudriet broke through from two yards out for his second score of the game and a Smeal extra point gave Curwensville a 41-0 lead with 9:12 to go in the game.
The Rams' backup unit came into the game in the fourth quarter as sophomore quarterback Christian Cherry managed a 16-yard pass to sophomore Mitchell Anderson. Cherry was later picked off by Curwensville sophomore linebacker Kyle Billings.
The Golden Tide's backup unit ran the ball 11 straight times, including impressive runs of 26 and 11 yards from Billings before turning the ball over on downs.
Johnsonburg (1-3) will play host to undefeated Elk County Catholic (4-0) Friday, Sept. 29 while Curwensville (4-0) will put their undefeated streak on the line against visiting Kane (2-2). Both games are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
The 300 Club winners for the Johnsonburg Rams Band were: first quarter, Brenda Crowe; second quarter, Kathy and Tom Geer; third quarter, Alice Smiley; and fourth quarter, Dennis Crotzer.