BROOKVILLE — Starting their first game without injured quarterback Jack Krug, the Brookville Raiders went to a full-house backfield and tried to ram it down Punxsutawney’s throat.
The Raiders did that pretty much, 340 yards worth of running game to be exact, but mistakes and turnovers doomed their chances in a 23-21 loss to the Chucks in their annual Route 36 Trophy game.
The Chucks won it thanks to Alex Gianvito’s 20-yard field goal with 1:32 left in the game.
The Raiders committed three turnovers, one coming at the Chucks’ 12 and another that led to Gianvito’s game-winning boot. They also stalled on downs inside the Chucks’ 25 twice and had another drive into Chucks territory derailed by two holding penalties.
“Fundamentals hurt us tonight,” said Raiders head coach Scott Park, whose team fell to 1-2 going into this Friday’s game at 3-0 Clarion.
The other numbers didn’t look bad as the Raiders mostly ran against the Chucks. They outgained the Chucks 391-287 and put two rushers over the 100-yard mark.
Tucker Wolfe ran for 195 yards on 20 carries, his 10-yard touchdown run putting the Raiders up 21-20 with 8:11 remaining. Cabe Park dashed for 132 yards on 10 carries, scoring the first two Raiders touchdowns from 43 and 25 yards out in the first half.
“We had (running setup) in and thought we could run on them and we did but it took us awhile to get going,” Park said. “That was what we thought we were going to have to do and it worked for awhile. … At halftime, we felt we had to mix it up with our old and new stuff and it is what it is.”
The Raiders, who managed just 75 yards on the ground in the second half, couldn’t nail things down late as Kameron Falgout recovered Wolfe’s fumble at the Raiders’ 38 with 4:55 left. Nine plays later, the Chucks sent out Gianvito to boot the 20-yarder on fourth-and-goal from the 4.
Chucks quarterback Dylan Ishman tossed three touchdown passes, all of them to Max London covering 20, 12 and 13 yards. Cooper Giavedoni ran for 105 yards on 16 carries and Gianvito finished with 73 yards on 12 carries. London grabbed four passes for 52 yards and intercepted Tate Lindermuth at the Chucks’ 26 on the first play following Gianvito’s field goal with 1:14 left, allowing the Chucks to kneel out the clock.
The Raiders, who started senior Trenton Gilhousen at quarterback, threw just three incomplete passes in the first half, sticking with the running game. Lindermuth replaced him in the second offensive series and then Gilhousen left the game early in the second quarter with a shoulder injury while playing from his linebacker spot.
Chucks head coach Brad Wright wasn’t really surprised at the Raiders reversing their normal game plan.
“We expected that,” Wright said. “When you look at our inability to stop the run the first two weeks, I’m not surprised about their game plan. We shuffled the deck and moved some kids around and I think we found a home for some kids and those kids responded and played a good game.”
Punxsutawney struck first, going 55 yards on five plays after stopping the Raiders’ first possession and finishing it off on Ishman’s 20-yarder to London.
The Raiders’ first costly miscue came at the end of the first quarter when the Chucks recovered a Brandan Eppley fumble at the Chucks’ 10. But the Raiders scored the next possession when Park, out of the backfield, blasted 43 yards to get Brookville on the board.
Punxsutawney answered that touchdown with a 55-yard scoring drive on nine plays. Ishman found London again for their 12-yarder.
Then four plays after the ensuing kickoff, it was Park again from 25 yards out right after a 22-yard gain and it was 14-14 with 2:38 left in the first half.
The Raiders got to the Chucks’ 15 in the final seconds of the half, but the drive stalled on downs inside the 15 as time ran out.
The Chucks went up 21-20 at the end of the third quarter, the drive starting at their own 47. Raiders punter Nathan Taylor’s minus-4-yard punt was rushed to avoid a block. Ishman’s 13-yarder to London followed by Gianvito’s missed point-after kick put the Chucks up 21-20 with 35.1 seconds left in the third.
Another missed opportunity by the Raiders ended on downs on the ensuing possession at the Chucks’ 19, but three plays later, Wyatt Griffin’s interception of Ishman gave the Raiders the ball at the 23 and Wolfe scored from 10 yards out in four plays.
That set up the fourth quarter that saw the Raiders fall short thanks to Gianvito’s boot.
“I don’t think this week or last week defines the team that we are or could be,” Park said. “We just have to keep working each week at getting better and be focused. We challenged their focus all week and I think there were a couple days we weren’t focused as we needed to be and when you let people in a game that probably shouldn’t be in the game with you, this is what happens.
“We needed to come out and take it to them tonight and we didn’t do that from the get-go. Give credit to Punxsy. They came and battled.”
The Chucks ended a two-game losing streak to the Raiders, notching their first win of the season.
“The football gods smiled on us for a change and we figured some things out on defense,” Wright said. “We were able to shut down their screens down and were worried about that. They did kind of nickel-and-dimed us there, but we were able to put some good hits on their backs and kept plugging away and eventually slowed them down enough to secure the win. So I’m proud of our guys.”