STRATTANVILLE — Football and bad weather go together like peanut butter and jelly. Fortunately for the Punxsy Chucks, they have been able to avoid any poor weather so far this season. When Punxsy traveled to Clarion-Limestone Friday night, it experienced a 30-minute weather delay due to lightning. For the C-L Lions, it would just be the calm before the storm, as the Chucks ran their way to a 28-12 win to improve their record to 3-3 on the season.
"It's something that we told the players they still have to get mentally prepared despite the conditions," Punxsy head coach Alan Nichol said. "There's just too many interruptions to get together and talk. They had to get together and give each other the speech. The seniors already know the speech, so they were in charge of getting them ready."
Going into the game, C-L head coach Dave Eggleton said that the focal part of Punxsy's offense was Christian Falgout. Despite his opposition knowing the game plan, Nichol ran Falgout anyway, to the tune of 227 yards on 34 carries and two touchdowns.
The Chucks ran Falgout so much, that they attempted just one pass in the first half.
"He wants the ball," Nichol said. "When I think he's tired to bring him out, it turns out he isn't, and he wants more carries."
After the Chucks were forced to punt on their first drive, the Lions took the ball and tried to send a message; These aren't your older brother or sister's Lions. C-L — which snapped its 21-game losing streak earlier this season — took advantage of a vulnerable Chucks' pass defense, as quarterback Christian Bakewell connected with Chase Alcorn for a 39-yard pass. The same combo would connect for a three-yard touchdown off a play-action pass to give C-L an early 6-0 lead.
"We played two similar teams with their offensive schemes the past two weeks," Nichol said. "C-L wanted to throw the ball more than St. Marys did last week. We were up there trying to stop the run, but they would throw the ball out of their Wing-T formation."
The Chucks struck back, however, as Falgout ran for 68 yards on the next drive — including a 34-yard and a 20-yard run — before capping the drive off with a two-yard score to put Punxsy up 7-6.
The Lions had the ball and were on the attack after Bakewell connected with Kysaac Smith for 34 yards. While the Lions were looking to pounce on the Chucks, Punxsy caught a big break. Bakewell had a receiver open over the middle, but he was unable to pull it in. Off the drop, Punxsy's Perry Arrington picked off the pass to set up the Chucks from their own 15-yard-line.
Punxsy continued the rushing attack, as Falgout, quarterback Dakota Thomas and Arrington rushed their way to the 17-yard-line before Arrington scampered his way in for the score.
"Arrington has come a long way. He's a real good athlete no matter what he does," Nichol said. "He's a District IX champion for wrestling and pole vaulting. For football now, he's contributing to our success in many ways."
In an odd turn of events, C-L got the ball back before the half, and was again in position to tie up the game. On third down, Bakewell dropped back in the pocket and attempted to hit his receiver, but Punxsy was called for a pass interference. Despite the 15-yard penalty, the referees gave the Lions a third-and-goal from the six, instead of a first down. The Lions were unable to capitalize and went to the half with a 14-6 score.
"It's a new rule for the PIAA this year. It is no longer an automatic first down for the offense when the penalty results in half-the-distance to the goal," a referee said after the game.
The Chucks came out after forcing the Lions to turn the ball over on downs, and take a guess what they did? If you guessed ran the ball with Falgout, pat yourself on the back. Falgout ran six times for 53 yards, which set up a 15-yard QB sneak by Thomas to push the lead to 21-6.
Showing that they are the "Kings of the Jungle," rather than the "Cowardly Lions," C-L's squad pulled off back-to-back 19-yard gains to put it into Punxsy's red zone. On second down from the five, Bakewell hit Will Rupert, who made an outstanding catch to pull the Lions within nine, making the score 21-12.
The Chucks, however, proved to be too much, as Falgout extended the lead to 28-12 with 9:30 left in the fourth quarter, to seal the Chucks' victory.
"Falgout has worked extremely hard and wants to run as much as he can,"
Nichol said. "He's quite a football player."
Eggleton was impressed with what he saw from Falgout, too.
"He's a good runner. We over-pursued at times, and he was patient, so he cut back," Eggleton said. "I think we did OK against him. I wouldn't say he killed us; I would say the turnovers did. They gave the Chucks short fields, and they took advantage of it."
Eggleton said that prior to the game, Punxsy had a huge size advantage on the line. It looks like Nichol took advantage of the size, as his lines won the battle of the trenches.
"I think that was the key at several times during the game when we took over and ran the ball on them," Nichol said. "I think that was the key, because they have good skill players. Also, on defense, we were able to stop them when they ran up the middle, and it gave us an advantage."
The Chucks will play host to Kane next week for their annual Homecoming Game at Jack LaMarca Stadium.