COUDERSPORT, Pa. — It had been nearly two full calendar years since Coudersport lost to a team from within District 9, but three days short of reaching that two-year point, the Falcons’ streak is over.
Behind a defensive performance for the ages and a strong night of running by Braedon Johnson, Smethport dealt Coudersport a 14-0 defeat on a cold evening in a District 9 IU Small School showdown.
The Hubber victory snapped Coudy’s win streak at 14 district games, which included the postseason, and gave Smethport (5-0) the North Division title and a home playoff game next week. Smethport was also the last team to defeat Coudy in D9 play, a 21-20 win on Oct. 19, 2018.
The decision also broke a three-game Hubber losing skid against the Falcons entering the night, which dated to the 2018 District 9 Class A championship.
Still, Hubber coach Adam Jack says revenge was never a topic of discussion.
“We didn’t talk about revenge at all. We like it when we get underestimated by some guys out there,” he said. “This game was about pride for these kids and this program. We took it on the chin last year twice from them, so we talked about reversing our fortunes.”
Indeed, Coudy won both 2019 matchups — the first a 42-0 drubbing in which Coudy held Smethport to 42 total yards and the second a 35-6 decision in the D9 semis.
But on Friday night, it was Smethport’s defense that dominated. The Hubbers held Coudy to a season-low 73 yards of offense, and never allowed the Falcons’ vaunted triple option to get rolling. Coudersport ran for just 54 yards on 27 carries.
“We had to play disciplined on defense, and tonight the kids came through for us in a big way,” Jack said. “The defense really stepped it up tonight, and (defensive coordinator) Jim Berlin called a tremendous game.”
Brandt Kightlinger led the Falcons in rushing with 43 yards on 10 attempts, while quarterback Hayden Keck was held to two yards on 12 runs.
“They were well prepared,” Coudy coach Tom Storey said of the Hubbers’ defense. “They’ve run the option in the past, and they came out and studied it a bit and shut that down. We need to work on it a little more, and it’s my fault. We have to get some passes working better to loosen (defenses) up.”
Smethport’s offense, meanwhile, got off to a slow start but was lifted by the defensive performance. The Hubbers turned the ball over on back-to-back possessions to start the game, but forced Coudersport punts on each ensuing drive.
“We told the kids we would face adversity tonight that we hadn’t seen yet this year,” Jack said. “We know Coudersport has a really good team. We made those errors early on, but we told the kids to keep fighting. I think getting those stops really buoyed the kids, and it kept their spirits up.”
Those stops were eventually rewarded by Smethport’s offense, as Braedon Johnson bolted 40 yards for a score midway through the second quarter to put the Hubs up 6-0.
Then, on Coudy’s ensuing possession, Keck was flushed out of the pocket deep in Falcon territory and then threw the ball away from his own end zone. He was flagged for a safety on the play, pushing Smethport’s lead to 8-0.
That pressure was something the Hubbers kept on Keck throughout the night, as he was frequently on the run. The signal caller was sacked twice on the evening, as well.
“The kids maintained that discipline and did their jobs each play,” Jack said. “A couple times he got outside of a couple guys, but the kids really came through for us.”
Out of halftime, the Hubbers forced a punt and then took over at their own nine yard line. On the second play from scrimmage, quarterback Noah Lent rushed for 11 yards before exiting the game with an upper-body injury. He finished with 83 yards rushing, and his status moving forward is unknown.
In his place, tailback Braedon Johnson moved to quarterback, though the Hubbers featured him as more of a wildcat player than a true passer. He threw one pass on the night — an 11-yard completion to Ryli Burritt — but more importantly, ran for 157 yards and two touchdowns.
His second score came with 8:16 to go in the game on a 14-yard run to extend the Hubs’ lead to 14-0.