Coudersport’s Comeback Closes Clarion-Limestone’s Season
Written by: Phil Myers on Saturday, November 10th, 2018
In a tale of two halves on a rainy night in Brockway at Frank Varischetti Stadium, the Coudersport Falcons used a solid second half effort to come from behind and earn a 22-12 victory over the Clarion-Limestone Lions. C-L led 12-0 at halftime on the strength of two Austin Newcomb touchdowns. In fact, Newcomb rambled for 186 yards in the opening half of football. In doing so, he set the all-time single season rushing mark in D-9 history with 2,628 yards.
Coudy Coach Tom Storey put the comeback in perspective by saying, “We didn’t change much at the half, just a couple adjustments defensively. We were a little timid in the first half. We told the kids that we needed to execute a little bit better and to get after it.” Get after it they did. Five of their six drives in the second half began in Lion country and the other drive started at midfield. The result of the consistently good field position was three scores that flipped the 12-0 deficit into a spot in the D-9 Class A finals against a familiar foe and long-time rival, Smethport.
The game had a very sloppy commencement. Clarion-Limestone won the toss and elected to receive. On the short kick, the ball was fumbled and then knocked back to the Lion 15 where John Minor recovered the elusive pigskin for the Falcons. On the first play, Stephen Kelly fumbled but recovered for a three-yard gain. On the very next play, Kolby Vanwhy lost the ball and C-L’s Tim Burchwell fell on it at the five.
The Lions proceeded to drive practically the length of the field. The possession came to an end when Newcomb coughed up the ball as he ran for a first down inside the Falcon 20. The ball rolled to the five before being recovered by Kelly. The Falcons couldn’t get anything going, which was their theme for the first half, and they punted giving the C-L squad good position at the Coudy 46.
From there, Newcomb ran for four yards and then broke loose for a 42-yard jaunt to give his team a 6-0 lead at the 3:27 mark of quarter number one. It remained that way after a failed two-point conversion. On the ensuing kickoff, C-L worked the onside kick to perfection as Jordan Pezzuti came up with the ball after it had traveled ten yards. The Lions drove 49 yards in 9 plays for their second and last score of the game. Early in the second quarter, Newcomb found pay dirt from nine yards out to finish the drive to give his team a 12-0 lead. Another failed two-point attempt kept the score the same.
Not much else happened until late in the half when Newcomb was stopped short of a new set of downs on a fourth down run at the Falcon 16. Giving the fans a glimpse of things to come, Coudersport moved the ball to the Lion 22 where the drive fizzled out on a fourth down incomplete pass. On that possession, which began with under two minutes left in the half, the Falcons ran 10 plays, gained 62 yards, and had three first downs. For the first 22 minutes of the game, they had run 8 plays, gained 32 yards, and had zero first downs.
The second half began with a nice kickoff return by Minor to the Lion 41. Although they turned the ball over on downs, momentum was swinging. To top it off, Newcomb had been injured right before the half and did not see the field in the last two quarters. His presence was sorely missed by the Lions, maybe even more on the defensive side of the ball, and it was definitely observed by the Falcons. “We noticed he wasn’t out there pretty quickly, but Newcomb not being out there didn’t change our approach,” stated Storey.
The possible turning point came after Coudy’s defense forced C-L to punt. That’s when C-L’s punter, Kyle Bottaro, couldn’t handle the snap and was forced to run. He didn’t get far and the Falcons took over at the Lion 35. Kelly converted a fourth and five by getting six on a run. Two plays later Hayden Keck hit Dylan Keglovits with a pass to the C-L ten. Kelly put Coudy on the board at the 5:36 mark with a ten-yard run. Vanwhy scored on the 2-point conversion to make the score 12-8 in favor of the Lions, but the pendulum had obviously swung to Coudersport.
A short punt by C-L after their next drive stalled gave Coudersport the ball at the C-L 48. And early in the last quarter they capitalized with a Keck one-yard quarterback sneak right after Kelly’s 25-yard scurry to the one. The Falcons had clawed their way into the lead with less than eleven minutes to play at 14-12. Holding their opponent at midfield after stopping the Lion fourth down try, Coudy mounted the drive that sealed the deal. On a third and two at the C-L 42, Kelly broke a nifty run all the way into the end zone to put Coudy up 22-12 with under eight minutes remaining.
Without their star and due to the tenacious Coudersport defense, Clarion-Limestone could muster no offense. Thus, the game eventually ended and Coudersport celebrated. Some are calling it ‘The Revenge Tour’ as the Falcons have now defeated, in the playoffs, two teams that had beaten them during the regular season. Next week they can make it three if they can knock off the Hubbers of Smethport. “I’m excited,” said Kelly, “we’re looking forward to it.” Smethport (11-0) scored two fourth quarter touchdowns to claim the victory over Coudy 21-20 on October 19th. The last time these two teams met in the D-9 finals was 1994 according to D-9 Sports.
Kelly led Coudersport with 125 yards on the ground, scoring two touchdowns. Keck was 7 for 13 passing for 88 yards. Minor caught three of those for 49 yards. It’s not often a team has two 100-yard rushers and lose the football game. Yet that’s exactly what happened to Clarion-Limestone. Newcomb had the 186 yards and 2 TDs, all in one half. Ayden Wiles notched 108 yards for the evening. C-L had 267 first half yards and only 20 in the second half. All but 2 of their 287 total yards came on the ground. Coudersport’s record is 7-4, while the Falcons end their season with a 9-3 mark.
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