Football rivals meet again

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Hosting an alumni game can only mean one thing: Rekindling a rivalry that has lasted for many years.

Punxsy hosted an alumni game between a foe from its past, the Brookville Raiders, and the Chucks settled the battle in a convincing 14-6 victory.

"This feels really great to come out on the winning side," Punxsy coach Tim Zimmerman said. "Because our high school team this year had a rough season, we really wanted to pull one together for them, and the alumni team did a fabulous job."

The Chucks were led by back-up quarterback Bill Cuba, who was nine for 14 totaling 84 yards, after starter Tiger Perry went down with an injury.

"Bill Cuba came out and gave us a big hand and pretty much competed the whole rest of the game," Zimmerman said. "I have to give a good hand to Bill, but if it wasn't for our offensive line, we wouldn't have been able to do what we did."

Brookville was the first to work its way into Punxsy territory during its second offensive drive of the game, but when Raiders quarterback Jed Fiscus was forced to scramble on fourth down, Brookville turned the ball over on downs.

Punxsy was forced to go three-and-out on its last drive of the first quarter, but the punt was fumbled and recovered by Punxsy's Bret Rankin, giving the Chucks the ball back on the Raider 30-yard line.

The Chucks moved into the red zone before Dustin Guidash was able to mark a two-yard score, putting the Chucks up 6-0 with 8:51 to go in the first half.

The Raiders once again worked their way into Punxsy territory when Fiscus hit a 30-yarder to Alex Kerr, but four plays later, Fiscus was sacked, and Punxsy earned the ball again.

After two 19-yard runs for Punxsy — one by Joel Doty and one by Austin Furman — the game showed its first signs of a real battle, and both teams were knocked with personal fouls.

On Brookville's ensuing drive, Fiscus made a costly error as he threw an interception to Punxsy's Duell Thompson, who ran the distance for a 27-yard touchdown, giving the Chucks a 12-point lead.

The final drive of the half for Punxsy was plagued by flags, and the score remained 12-0 in Punxsy's favor at halftime.

With the exception of one play, Cuba played at the quarterback position for the Chucks and helped to run a successful offense. But Brookville's defense remained tough for the entire second half, not allowing any offensive points.

During Punxsy's second drive of the third quarter, the Chucks fumbled the ball, and it was recovered by Brookville's Ryan Seacrist, giving his team favorable field position at the 30-yard line. The Raiders took advantage, working their way downfield, and Fiscus scored a one-yarder to cut Punxsy's lead to six.

Punxsy earned some insurance, though, while the only points scored by the Chucks in the second half were due to another error by Brookville — a high snap was just out of Fiscus' reach. He scrambled to reach the football in time, but it rolled out of the back of the end zone for a Punxsy safety, and the Chucks led 14-6 with just under three minutes left to play.

Punxsy's offense earned two more first downs before electing to kneel and securing the victory over its longtime rival.

The game was definitely a heated one with several fights that broke out, five personal fouls called and an unsportsmanlike conduct flag thrown. But at the end of the game, the two teams shook hands.

"We came together and basically talked about the football fraternity; it goes for generations," Brookville coach Adam Hepler said. "We wanted to bring everybody back together; it's all brotherhood, and we were thankful to have the opportunity to play again."

The players then honored an MVP from each team. Rankin received the glory for Punxsy.

"Bret Rankin just led us on defense," Zimmerman said of his MVP. "He was just an animal out there."

Eric Painter, who led Brookville's defense, earned the award for the Raiders.

"Painter basically ran the defense," Hepler said. "He gets a lot of credit for putting that thing together; he's a great athlete. He's a very smart guy, ... and it was nice to have him on the team. He's a good leader."

After more than two months of practice, the alumni game was a success for the Chucks, putting to rest the rivalry for now.