Kovalyak leads DuBois to win over Warren
Written by: Brian Hagberg on Sunday, September 9th, 2018
DUBOIS, Pa. -Looking for a way to spark his team, DuBois coach Justin Marshall decided to make a switch at quarterback.
Out went Eric Schneider, in came Alex Kovalyak.
The switch paid immediate dividends as Kovalyak threw for 251 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Beavers to their first win of the season, 31-8 over Warren.
“We’ve been looking at ways to improve,” Marshall said. “We wanted to give a different look tonight.”
The Beavers (1-2 overall, 1-1 District 10 Region 7) had trouble finding the end zone during their two season opening losses (28-3 to Clearfield and 41-12 to General McLane).
The Dragons (1-2, 0-2) have been trending in the opposite direction.
Warren put together a complete game in its season opening win against Fairview.
In a week 2 loss to Fort LeBoeuf, the defense struggled and the Dragons were outgunned.
Friday night at DuBois, it was the offense’s turn to have trouble getting things going as Warren struggled to finish drives.
“We don’t know what to expect week to week,” Warren coach Mark Morelli said. “But that’s football, especially with high school kids.”
The offense has been the one real constant during Morelli’s tenure, but the Beavers dug in when it mattered and found a way to keep the Dragons out of the end zone.
“It’s been about getting the kids to finish,” Marshall said. “The kids really responded tonight.”
Warren opened the game with an 11-play drive where they marched from their own 20 to the DuBois 17. The Beaver defense stepped up and got a sack and forced a pair of incompletions to get a turnover on downs.
After a 3-and-out, the Dragons used seven plays to get into Beaver territory, but again, DuBois was able to force incompletions and a punt.
They responded with a 9-play drive of their own that ended with a 32-yard touchdown from Kovalyak to Schneider on a post pattern that split the Dragons defense. The extra point was good and DuBois had a 7-0 lead with just under a minute to play in the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, Warren again had a long drive-10 plays-and again, the DuBois defense forced Warren quarterback Jake Kupchella into some errant throws and the Dragons punted.
“We tried to contain (Kupchella),” Marshall said.
“We had no answer for their pressure,” Morelli said. “We had three sophomores on the offensive line-that’s not an excuse-and we didn’t do a good job of handling the pressure.”
Facing a fourth-and-five late in the quarter on their own 38, Warren ran a fake punt. Aidan Morrison strung out the play long enough to find Devin McMeans for first down yardage, but the play was called back on an illegal shift.
DuBois ran out most of the clock, but Warren got the ball back and marched to the Beavers 23, but ran out of time before getting any points on the board as DuBois took a 7-0 lead into the half.
“If you look at the stats, the first half was all ours,” Morelli said. “We just had no rhythm and couldn’t keep drives going.”
The defensive struggle continued in the early part of the third quarter. Morrison and Jamo Douvlos each had a tackle for loss on the first two plays, then James Swanson picked off Kovalyak’s third down pass attempt.
DuBois got the ball right back on the next play as Kupchella was flushed from the pocket and fumbled as he was being taken to the ground. The Beavers took over in Dragons territory and a spearing penalty two plays later had them inside the red zone. DuBois got down to the Warren 5, but the Dragon defense dug in and forced the Beavers to settle for a Dylan McCluskey field goal.
With just under seven minutes to go and trailing 10-0, the Dragons were looking for a spark. Marvin Bryant nearly gave it to them. He took the kickoff on the 5, broke a pair of tackles and raced down the sideline. He was caught at the DuBois 14 and hit hard. The Dragon coaching staff felt Bryant was hit out of bounds late, and their frustration cost them as they were flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Kupchella’s attempted pass to McMeans was intercepted on the goal line by Coy Donahue who returned it 25 yards.
“I thought it was a late hit,” Morelli said. “All I did was ask a question. Then the turnover…it really took the wind out of our sails. In hindsight, I should have stayed calmer, but I’m going to stick up for our kids.”
The Beavers needed just six plays to add to their lead. This time, Kovalyak found his 6 foot, 7 inch tight end, Chase Husted, for a 22-yard strike.
“We wanted to let Kovalyak throw,” Marshall said. “He made some plays in the passing game.”
DuBois led 17-0 after three quarters.
Early in the fourth, Swanson blocked a punt near midfield, but the Dragons couldn’t take advantage of the good field position and turned the ball over on downs just four plays later.
On the next play, Kovalyak found Michael Eisman for a 54-yard touchdown and a 24-0 advantage.
Warren finally found paydirt on its next possession. The 13-play drive ended with a 21-yard Kupchella pass to Morrison, but took three minutes off the clock.
“I give credit to Kupchella,” Marshall said. “He’s a great quarterback.”
DuBois recovered the onside kick and Zach Henery’s 18-yard touchdown run closed out the scoring.
Kupchella finished with 274 yards on 21-43 passing. Kovalyak nearly matched him, gaining 251 yards on 15-26 passing. The difference is Kovalyak had three touchdowns to Kupchella’s one.
DuBois will look to carry this momentum over as they hit the road next week for the first time this season. The Beavers take on Franklin.
“We just want to keep this going,” Kovalyak said.
Warren will try to find answers again before heading home for a battle with North East.
Score by quarters
Warren 0 0 0 8 – 8
DuBois 7 0 10 14 – 31
D-Eric Schneider 32 pass from Alex Kovalyak (Nico McDonald), :42.7
D-Dylan McCluskey 30 field goal
D-Chase Husted 22 pass from Kovalyak (McDonald kick), 3:56
D-Micael Eisman 54 pass from Kovalyak (McDonald kick), 7:54
W-Aidan Morrison 21 pass from Jake Kupchella (Marvin Bryant run), 3:02)
D-Zach Henery 18 run (McDonald kick), :20.3
Team stats W D
Total plays 78 64
First downs 17 11
Rushes-yards 24-52 27-73
Comp-att-int 21-44-1 16-28-1
Passing yards 274 267
Total yards 326 340
Penalties-yards 8-75 4-25
Fumbles-lost 1-1 0-0
Rushing: Warren-Marvin Bryant 10-50, Jake Kupchella 9-(-4), Micah Passmore 2-10, Aidan Morrison 1-2, James Swanson 1-(-2), Landon Douvlos 1-(-2). DuBois-Dylan McCluskey 10-34, Eric Schneider 5-(-3), Zach Henery 5-17-1, Ruben Estrada 2-17, Alex Kovalyak 2-6, Zach Shilala 1-5, Michael Eisman 1-3, Aidan Castro 1-(-6).
Passing: Warren-Kupchella 21-43, 274-1-1, Aidan Morrison 0-1. DuBois-Kovalyak 15-26, 251-3-1, Shilala 1-2, 16.
Receiving: Warren-Devin McMeans 4-72, Bryant 4-49, Swanson 4-37, Alex Anderson 4-28, Ryan Arnold 3-49, Morrison 2-39-1. DuBois-Chase Husted 6-52-1, Nick Dilullo 3-99, Schneider 3-42-1, Eisman 1-54-1, Tyler Christner 1-16, Nathan Barr 1-3, Blaise Carney 1-1.
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