Scoop & score puts Punxsy ahead for good vs. St. Marys

Staff Writer

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Crunch time had arrived. The Punxsy Chucks were trailing St. Marys 21-17 three minutes into the fourth quarter at Jack LaMarca Stadium on Friday night. The Punxsy defense knew that it needed to stop the St. Marys offense on the ensuing drive — which started with 9:04 left at the St. Marys 40.

Instead, Punxsy's defense did one better, as Conner Giavedoni got in the way of what was already a bad exchange and put the pressure on to force a St. Marys fumble. Then, as the ball bounced farther into the backfield, Carter Newcome came along and scooped it up for a fumble recovery, and with nothing but green ahead of him and a slew of Chucks blockers running behind him, Newcome took the recovery 35 yards for a scoop-and-score that would prove to be the difference-maker in Punxsy's 24-21 win.

In fact, Punxsy's defense had a way of coming up with the big play all night, and despite the Dutchmen amassing 170 rushing yards to Punxsy's 43, the defense got the big takeaway when needed to keep the game in reach. In addition to the forced fumble and scoop-and-score, Brandon Ishman also had a sack that resulted in a safety (with Jacob Bellerillo there to help finish it off), Newcome and Alex Gianvito each had one interception and Ricky Litak came up with the big sack on the Dutchmen's final drive to bring it to stop them in their tracks.

Though the offense spun its wheels a bit in the running game, the Chucks were able to rely on the passing game — out-gaining the visitors 177-63 in that department. Quarterback Dylan Ishman was 12-for-17 with one touchdown pass (and he added one on a QB keeper), with Newcome being his favorite target for the night, as he hauled in seven passes for 118 yards.

Punxsy head coach Brad Wright was glad to see the defense come up with the big plays when needed, and of course, he was glad to see his team pick up the victory. But he did say that things didn't go quite as the Chucks would have drawn them up, noting that there is a lesson in winning ugly, so to speak. "I don't think we've had a scoop-and-score since I've been here, and I was hoping that one of these times we'd get a bounce and make it happen," Wright said. "I just told the guys after the game that we made the plays that were necessary at the critical junctures of the game, but overall, we didn't play very well, and the guys knew that. We can't continue to flounder on offense like that; we need to do a much better job. And we learned a valuable lesson. It's not that we didn't take this week seriously; it's that in this league, even the lesser teams are going to be able to play with you if you don't bring your best game. And we didn't play our best game, but a win is a win, and we'll take that moving forward."

After enjoying two home games and one short trip to Brookville over the past three weeks, the Chucks will now hit the road for a few longer treks, as they visit Kane next Friday, then Ridgway the following week.

(Note: This is an abridged recap from Friday night's game. A full story, plus plenty of action photos, appears in Saturday's print edition.