SMETHPORT, Pa. – The Smethport/Curwensville District 9 Class 1A quarterfinal football game turned out to be a contrast in styles with the Hubbers’ ground-and-pound game being too much for the Golden Tide’s high-flying attack in a 46-27 win at Smethport.
Rewatch the game
Smethport put three runners over 100 yards each while rushing 56 times for 433 yards in the victory.
Senior quarterback Noah Lent fought through a first-half shoulder injury to his non-throwing arm and ran 25 times for 177 yards and two touchdowns, Ryan Pelchy added 15 carries for 135 yards and a score, and Ryan Mason ran 14 times for 123 yards and two touchdowns.
“Curwensville is young up front, and we were a little better up front,” Smethport head coach Adam Jack said. “And with Noah coming back (from an injury that forced him to miss the Coudersport game two weeks agl), the kids had a little extra confidence. They did a good job of execution up front, and Coach (Joel) Lent and (Ryan) Yingling did a great job with their game plan this week.”
Lent and Mason each scored two touchdowns and Pelchy one, as Smethport made a commitment to possess the ball as much as they could to keep an explosive Curwensville offense off the field.
That strategy worked to perfection with Smethport holding onto the ball for 35:11 to Curwensville’s 12:49.
“Part of the discussion at halftime was to use every second of the clock with the run game,” Jack said. “I thought they were having trouble with our run game, and we could run on them all night. We had trouble stopping their pass game and wanted to keep the ball out of their hands as much as possible.”
Jack was correct in both cases.
Curwensville couldn’t stop the Smethport run, and Smethport had trouble stopping the Curwensville pass.
All seven of the Hubbers’ touchdown drives covered at least 65 yards including drives of 75, 65, 75, 85, 65, 80, and 75 yards. Three of those drives, including the final two, took at least five minutes off the clock.
Lent credited the offensive line for the lengthy drives.
“They are studs,” Lent said. “They really executed tonight. They dug deep and got the job done. Give it all to them.”
The long drives were important considering Curwensville showed a quick-strike ability that had the Golden Tide score all four of their touchdowns in less than two minutes with scoring “drives” of 2:32, 1:09, 13 seconds, and 44 seconds.
Dan McGarry was 16 of 26 passing for 346 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception with Ty Terry having a monster game receiving with six catches for 209 yards and two scores.
McGarry also added a rushing touchdown, and Thad Butler chipped in with four catches for 82 yards and a touchdown and ran six times for 67 yards.
Despite Butler averaging 11.2 yards per carry on his six totes, Curwensville never really committed to running the ball and finished the game with just 15 rushes with four of those being sacks.
The turning point in the game came on Smethport’s final drive of the first half and its first drive of the second half.
Down 20-18, the Hubbers took over at their own 15-yard line 2:56 to play.
It seemed like Smethport was content to just run out the clock knowing it was going to get the ball back to start the second half, as the first four plays were runs that yielded 11 yards.
But on second-and-9 from the Smethport 26, Lent found Alex Ognen over the middle for a 29-yard gain to the Curwensville 45-yard line changing the team’s thinking.
“That was Coach Lent,” Jack said. “He recognized they didn’t have a safety in the middle of the field. They brought their safety up into the box to stop Noah. He said, let’s take a shot and see what happens. Then once that happened (the pass to Ognen) we said let’s try to score before halftime.”
Score they did, as Lent hit Ognen again, this time from 40 yards away, to put Smethport ahead at the break, 24-20.
The Hubbers then got the ball to start the second half and proceed to go 65 yards in six plays taking 3:25 off the clock with Mason scoring on a 2-yard run to make it 30-20.
Curwensville got back within three, 30-27, on a 44-yard McGary to Terry touchdown pass late in the third quarter, but again Smethport had the answer.
This time, the Hubbers marched 80 yards in nine plays with Pelchy scoring on a 12-yard run to close out the 6:13 drive that made it 38-27.
Curwensville’s offense stalled going three-and-out on its next possession, and with just eight minutes to play the Golden Tide decided to punt from its own 40 despite having had trouble stopping the Smethport run game.
That backfired when the Hubbers marched 75 yards in nine plays putting the game away on a Lent 5-yard run with 2:30 left in the game.
For a moment. midway through the second quarter, it didn’t look like Lent nor the Hubbers would have a chance to put the game away.
On a 56-yard touchdown pass to Butler that saw Butler race down the far sideline for the score, Lent was hurt with his shoulder popping out.
The senior quarter was on the ground for about four minutes being tended to by the Smethport athletic trainer before sprinting off under his own power. He did miss the ensuing Hubbers’ possession, but returned on the punt and then played the rest of the game.
“When I looked across the field and saw the undershirt, Noah always wears an undershirt, I knew it was him,” Jack said. “I thought, oh boy, here we go. But once they (helped him) and he said ‘let’s go’ I knew we were still in this.”
Curwensville, which trailed 12-0 and 18-7, before the Butler touchdown made it 18-13, took its only lead, 20-18, when Terry caught a 73-yard bomb from McGarry with 3:04 left in the half on the drive after the Lent injury.
“It was nailbiter in the first half,” Lent, who was also 4 of 4 passing for 108 yards and two touchdowns, said. “But we dug down, fought through it, got through it, and here we are with a win.”
Smethport (8-2) will travel to Union High School to face Union/A-C Valley at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12, in the semifinals. Curwensville’s season ends at 6-5 (the Tide were 6-4 on the field but were forced to forfeit a game due to COVID-19 protocols).
SMETHPORT 46, CURWENSVILLE 27
Score by Quarters
Curwensville 0 20 7 0 – 27
Smethport 12 12 6 16 – 46
S – Noah Lent 1 run (Kick failed), 6:17
S – Brandon Higley 25 pass from Lent (Pass failed), 2:27
C – Dan McGarry 8 run (Jake Mullins kick), 11:53
S – Ryan Mason 27 run (Pass failed), 6:41
C – Thad Butler 56 pass from McGarry (Kick blocked), 5:24
C – Ty Terry 73 pass from McGarry (Mullins kick), 3:04
S – Alex Ognen 40 pass from Lent (Pass failed), 0:25
S – Mason 2 run (Kick failed), 8:34
C – Terry 44 pass from McGarry (Millins kick), 2:59
S – Ryan Pelchy 12 run (Higley pass from Lent), 8:46
S – Lent 5 run (Higley pass from Lent), 2:30
Curwensville – Stat – Smethport
14 First Downs 23
15-48 Rushes-Yards 56-433
346 Passing Yards 108
16-26-1 Passing: Comp-Att-Int 4-4-0
41-394 Total Plays-Yards 60-541
2-0 Fumbles-Lost 2-0
7-58 Penalties-Yards 9-85
2-33.5 Punts-Avg 2-34.5
12:49 TOP 35:11
2-6 Third-Down Conversions 7-9
0-2 Fourth-Down Conversions 0-0
RUSHING – Curwensville: Thad Butler 6-57, Team 1-minus 5, Dan McGarry 8-minus 14. Smethport: Noah Lent 25-177, Ryan Pelchy 15-135, Ryan Mason 14-123, Team 2-minus 2.
PASSING – Curwensville: Ben McGarry 16 of 26, 346 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT. Smethport: Noah Lent 4-for-4, 108 yards, 2 TDs
RECEIVING – Curwensville: Ty Terry 6-209, Thad Butler 4-82, Jake Mullins 4-29, Collin Jacobson 2-26. Smethport: Alex Ognen 2-69, Brandon Higley 1-25, Aiden McKean 1-14.
INTERCEPTIONS – Smethport 1 (Alex Ognen)