DuBOIS — Winning isn’t easy and making mistakes makes it even harder.
Still, despite four turnovers and a sluggish first-half offense, the DuBois Beavers found a way to make it happen as they scored a couple of late touchdowns to pull away with a 27-12 win over Meadville at Mansell Stadium Friday.
The Beavers (3-5) gave Meadville plenty of opportunities to cover up a sluggish offense of its own, twice giving the Bulldogs first downs inside the DuBois 20-yard line which they used to score both of their touchdowns.
The other two turnovers also hampered the DuBois offense as it limped to the half with just over 100 yards to its credit while on the back end of a 12-6 score.
If that weren’t enough, DuBois also had a pair of scores in the game brought back because of penalties.
However, a halftime adjustment made a world of difference for the Beavers as senior Eric Schneider replaced junior Alex Kovalyak at quarterback and put the ball on the ground, leading to three second-half scores.
“It was just a matchup that we looked over at halftime,” DuBois head coach Justin Marshall said. “I think Alex played well overall in the first half, it was just a case where (Meadville) was selling out on us and, on the last turnover of the first half, they just brought more than we could block.
“So we looked at ways to counter that and one of the ways was to get Eric at quarterback and use the quarterback run a little more,” Marshall added. “Obviously, it paid off for us.”
And it paid off big as Schneider finished the game with 109 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries with the lion’s share of those numbers coming in the final 24 minutes.
Senior Dylan McCluskey also rushed four times for 36 yards and a second half score while senior Blaise Carney added 37 yards on 10 attempts.
Kovalyak went 4-for-9 passing for 75 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in the first half, but also eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the season.
Junior Chase Husted caught four passes in the game, three from Kovalyak and one from Schneider, for 79 yards and a score.
Meanwhile, the DuBois defense was doing a good job keeping the Bulldogs’ offense in check as it limited them to just 165 yards of total offense in the game with just 122 on the ground.
Winston Heagy led the way for Meadville on the ground, rushing 12 times for 42 yards and a score while Jontae Brown finished with 10 carries for 41 yards while also catching one pass for an 8-yard touchdown.
Meadville senior quarterback Colin Kilburn went 5-for-14 for 43 yards and a score.
Both teams foreshadowed things to come on their opening possessions as Meadville was forced to punt on its first touch while a fumbled shotgun snap on DuBois’ second play from scrimmage gave the Bulldogs the ball again near midfield.
Another punt three plays later allowed Meadville to pin DuBois near its own 10 and a tipped pass on a third-and-3 fell into the arms of Bulldog defender Sam Burchard at the DuBois 31.
Burchard took the ball all the way back to the DuBois 10 where two plays later, Meadville scored on an 8-yard pass to Brown.
The Bulldogs chose to go for two but the pass failed leaving the score at 6-0.
DuBois eventually capitalized on a Meadville fumble inside its own 5 as Kovalyak found Husted for a 2-yard score early in the second quarter.
However, the snap was bad, leaving things tied at 6-6.
Another interception on DuBois’ next possession eventually led to another easy Meadville score as it set the Bulldogs up with a first-and-10 from the DuBois 19.
Four plays later, Heagy broke through for a touchdown on a fourth-and-4 from the DuBois 13.
Meadville missed again on its try for the 2-point conversion but held a 12-6 advantage.
The Beavers had a golden opportunity to either tie or take the lead just before the half after Kovalyak hit Husted with 56-yard pass to set up a first-and-goal from the 7 but a fumble on first down was recovered by Meadville allowing it to run out the clock.
“We have to clean those things up,” Marshall said. “Meadville is a tough team and we were fortunate that those turnovers didn’t hurt us more than they did. It’s going to come back to bite us, as it already as several times this year.”
While the Bulldogs dodged things in the first half, they weren’t prepared for the change of pace in the second as DuBois came out running, putting the ball on the ground 10-straight plays to move 57 yards for the score while eating up just over five minutes off the clock.
Schneider took it the final two yards for the score while Nico McDonald’s kick gave the Beavers their first lead of the game at 13-12.
Meadville followed with its longest drive of the game but came up short on a fourth-and-15 play from the DuBois 26.
It turned out to be the last time that the Bulldogs crossed the 50.
DuBois didn’t suffer from the same issue as it moved the ball well, punting on just one of its five second-half possessions.
The Beavers finally got some breathing room midway through the fourth when Schneider used a pump-fake to freeze a Meadville linebacker then race for a 15-yard score. McDonald’s kick was through again, giving DuBois a 20-12 advantage.
DuBois then wrapped things up with just over two minutes to play when McCluskey scored on a 4-yard touchdown run.
DuBois will now travel to play Hollidaysburg this week before returning home to wrap up the regular season against Brookville on Friday, Oct. 26.