Punxsy bounces back, clips Falcons' wings

FOXBURG — After a tough loss to its rival DuBois in the season opener, Punxsy recovered with a 42-6 win over A-C Valley Friday night in Foxburg.

Each team's greatest opponent Friday was the weather, though, as the start of the game was delayed until 7:50 p.m. due to lightning.

Lightning delayed the start of the second half as well, and eventually, the game had to be called during the third delay due to players' safety from stopping and starting.

"The weather forced us to talk about adversity," Punxsy head coach Alan Nichol said. "I think we can handle adversity better than anyone. From my standpoint, I started to get concerned for the players' health, and I felt it was a good decision to call it when they did."

Punxsy's offense spun its wheels a bit on its first few drives before shifting to several smooth-running drives.

Punxsy received the opening kickoff but went three-and-out on its first drive.

The Chucks' defense returned the favor, forcing A-C Valley to punt, and Tyler Titus almost blocked the punt to give Punxsy outstanding field position in Falcon territory.

After a 15-yard pass from Garrett Zimmerman to Luke Janocha, though, Punxsy was assessed a 15-yard personal foul penalty. On the next play, Janocha fumbled, and P.J. Still recovered the fumble for A-C Valley.

Punxsy's defense came up big again, forcing another three-and-out, but A-C Valley attempted a fake punt, and Colton Cunningham was stopped short of the first down, setting up Punxsy's first scoring drive.

Zimmerman hit Jamie Bush on a swing pass, and Bush was sprung by a Janocha block rumbling for 38 yards.

Three plays later, Zimmerman connected with Bush again on a 15-yard touchdown pass, giving the Chucks the early lead.

Punxsy's defense forced another three-and-out, and after a Falcons' punt, Punxsy wasted no time jumping back on the board when Alex Fedigan broke a few tackles and went the whole way to the house, pushing the lead to 13-0. The extra point attempt was no good.

Fedigan missed the season-opener Sept. 2 against Dubois with an undisclosed injury, but ran with purpose during Friday's matchup.

"It was nice to have Alex back," Nichol said. "For being out like he was, he ran strong. That's something he can build off."

Punxsy suffered two penalties on its next drive, forcing an eventual three-and-out but was able to manufacture another touchdown drive on its first possession in the second quarter, capped by a four-yard TD run by Fedigan.

On the next drive, Punxsy capitalized again, highlighted by a 10-yard run by Bush and a 17-yard touchdown pass from Zimmerman to Clayton Dale.

The Chucks capped their scoring for the first half with a four-play drive, which included three runs by Bush, including a one-yard touchdown run.

The Falcons' otherwise sluggish offense earned each of its three first downs on its final drive of the first half, which ended in a 9-yard scramble for a touchdown by Cunningham. The two-point conversion failed, leaving the halftime score 35-6.

The only score of the weather-shortened third quarter was a one-yard touchdown run by Fedigan.

After the game, Nichol pointed to the unsung heroes on the offensive and defensive lines.

"It was a great team effort," he said. "The play of the offensive line was really a strength for us. Defensively, the guys up front fought the battle all night. They couldn't run the ball, and that's a credit to those guys and our linebackers."

Offensively, Punxsy was led by Fedigan, who had 12 carries for 136 yards and three touchdowns.

Jamie Bush also put in an impressive performance rushing the ball, with 63 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.

Zimmerman passed for 123 yards and two touchdowns, going 7-for-16, and Nichol was pleased with the way his quarterback distributed the ball.

"Garrett had another good game," he said. "He was picking out receivers, and he picked the right guys. It was muddy and wet, but he played through it and did well."

Nichol was pleased with his team's overall effort, summarizing it as "a good effort with some good teamwork."

Punxsy looks to build on the momentum it found in Friday's game in its home opener next Friday against St. Marys.