BRADFORD, Pa. — In most playoff games, it’s usually comes down to one big play that can swing the momentum.
In Friday night’s District 9 Class A semifinal matchup between Coudersport and Smethport, it was instead a sequence of events that changed the tide from an upset bid to a quintessential Falcon victory.
After battling to a 6-6 tie with the Hubbers in the waning minutes of the first half, Coudy utilized 90 seconds of brilliance en route to 29 unanswered points to close out a 35-6 victory over the Hubbers on a crisp night at Parkway Field in Bradford
The win secures a second straight appearance in the D9 title game for the Falcons, and the chance to repeat.
Coudersport’s uncharastically slow start could be blamed on several factors, including strong play from the Hubs, but none moreso than the Falcons having to play without Travis Gleason (1,190 rush yards, 19 TDs) and Thomas Wilson (287 yards, 3 TDs). Both players are also amongst the leading team tacklers defensively.
“Unfortunately, everything was kind of short notice with a couple of them and you’re right at the end of the week and trying to get people up and going. We had them going for the last two weeks, we kind of had that thought that (Travis) was going to get back,” Coudersport coach Tom Storey said. “But the guys stepped up and the guys we had running were on the offense already. They know what we’re doing.”
That sequence at the end of the first half — one that both coaches admitted afterwards swung the game’s momentum — went something like this. Following a Coudy drive that stalled around its 40-yard-line, the Falcons brought out its punt team. Jacob Pitcher sent a booming punt that rolled all the way down to the one-yard-line. After nearly picking up a safety on a first down Smethport run, Coudersport’s Daniel Frame picked off Smethport QB Noah Lent as he dropped back to pass from his goal line.
The Falcons took over possession and scored a few plays later on a one-yard Hayden Keck run. They never looked back from there.
“The field position there really hurt us. We weren’t too confident that we were going to get out of the end zone on second down, so we thought we’d take a shot there. It didn’t work out for us,” Smethport coach Adam Jack said.
Keck’s touchdown helped to salvage what was one of Coudersport’s worst halves of the season. The Falcons opened the game on an 11-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off by a 21-yard touchdown from Keck to Minor. But the Hubbers scored on their next possession, a 3-yard run from Braedon Johnson, to tie the game and end Coudy’s remarkable 15-quarter scoreless streak that dated back to Week 6.
AT BRADFORD, Pa.
Smethport 0 6 0 0 — 6 Coudersport 6 6 16 8 — 35
Coudersport — John Minor 21 pass from Hayden Keck, run failed, 6-0
Smethport — Braedon Johnson 4 run, run failed, 6-6 Coudersport — Keck 1 run, run failed, 12-6
Coudersport — Brandt Kightlinger 62 run, Jacob Pitcher run, 20-6 Coudersport — Keck 46 run, Pitcher run, 28-6
Coudersport — Keck 22 run, Dalton Keglovits kick, 25-6