CURWENSVILLE — The Curwensville Golden Tide held a 15-14 halftime lead over the visiting Otto-Eldred Terrors Friday night at Coach Andy Evanko Field — thanks in part to a big second quarter that saw the Golden Tide establish the running game with Duane Brady. But the Terrors came out in the second half and scored 24 unanswered points to pull out a 38-22 victory.
“We’re just not quite there yet,” Curwensville head coach Jim Thompson said. “There’s definitely progress. That’s our biggest thing to take away is we can run the football when we want to. But there’s more to the game than that.”
The Terrors went up 8-0 before Curwenville even touched the ball, thanks to a 6-yard run by quarterback Cole Sebastian and a TJ Vanscoter two-point conversion run just 3:21 into the game. After a three-and-out by the Golden Tide, Sebastian found Cameron Magee for a 41-yard score as Magee took the reception over the middle of the field and weaved his way around Curwensville defenders to find the end zone. Sebastian’s run attempt failed on the two-point try and the Terrors had a 14-0 lead.
The second quarter was like a light switch flipped — with Curwensville showing its muscle on offense and Otto-Eldred struggling to get anything going. After a fourth down stop, Curwensville took over from its own 39-yard line and had a 13 play, 61-yard scoring drive that saw Brady and fellow running backs Thad Butler and Zach Holland get in on the action.
Brady got down to the Terrors 1-yard line before quarterback Dan McGarry crossed the goal line on the next play with 5:39 remaining in the second quarter. After Otto-Eldred was called for offsides on the point-after attempt, Curwensville decided to go for two and Brady punched it in to cut the deficit to 14-8.
Curwensville’s defense was able to make a big stop on Otto-Eldred’s next drive, as a fourth-and-17 pass attempt from the Golden Tide 20-yard line fell incomplete. One play later, Brady rumbled through Terror defenders for a 40-yard pickup.
“We’re just taking baby steps,” Thompson said. “Honestly, we haven’t been able to run the ball all year. We just challenged our kids. We went full pad practice on a Thursday, which we never do, and we challenged them (and said) ‘What are you going to do? Are you going to be soft or physical?’ And our kids answered.”
As the Golden Tide got into Otto-Eldred territory, Brady punched it in from 6-yards out with 22.7 seconds remaining in the half, as a Jake Mullins PAT gave the Golden Tide the 15-14 halftime lead and the ball to begin the second half.
It was all Otto-Eldred in the third quarter, first with a 1-yard pass from Sebastian to Ethan Smith to take a 22-15 lead with 5:39 left in the third quarter. Curwensville then went for it on fourth-and-6 at its own 41-yard line and only picked up a couple yards.
Four plays later, Sebastian scampered into the end zone from 2-yards out for a 30-15 lead.
After going three and out on Curwensville’s next possession, Sebastian found Jake Merry for a 17-yard game and then Smith for a 31-yard touchdown as time expired in the third quarter to give the Terrors a commanding 38-15 lead.
The Golden Tide did hold Otto-Eldred out of the end zone for the rest of the game and again showed muscle on the ground game for much of the fourth quarter on an 11-play, 70 yard touchdown drive that saw Brady get a 6-yard score with 2:24 left in the contest. Mullins tacked on the extra point to set the final score at 38-22.
In the losing effort, Brady had 25 carries for 161 yards and two touchdowns — as many of his carries moved the chains throughout the game.
“Our physicality finally clicked,” Thompson said. “There’s been spots of it throughout the year — in the Cameron County game and the Keystone game — but we haven’t been consistently physical. In football, physicality wins week in and week out. That’s something you can count on ... We’re becoming physical and we’re growing up a little bit.”
Overall, Curwensville picked up 14 first downs on the night and 225 rushing yards on 47 attempts. Thompson credited the offensive line with great play throughout.
“Our entire offensive line,” Thompson said. “Josh Bloom at center, (Shawn) Orcutt at guard, Nick Holbert — who’s probably 160 pounds — playing tackle. He’s a tough kid. Curtis Caldwell, Jayce Witherite — they just played their hearts out. We told them if there’s an eight-man front, we don’t care, we’re going to run the ball anyway just to see if they can ... There was no doubt who the more physical team was.”
With the loss, Curwensville falls to 1-7 on the year. A game is currently not scheduled for this coming Friday, although Thompson stated they are hopeful they can find an opponent, otherwise the Golden Tide will take the field again on Oct. 25 at Brockway. Regardless of when they play next or Friday night’s outcome, Thompson hopes they can build on the positives for its next game.
“When you have a crew that hasn’t had a lot of success throughout the season, that self doubt starts to creep in,” Thompson said. “When you see that success, hopefully that spark can build. That’s our job as coaches — to feed off of that and to pump up our kids and show them on film that when you want to do it, when you get after it, you can block guys. You’ve got to be willing to pay the price and put the effort in that it takes.”