DuBOIS — DuBois put together one of its best games of the season on offense and special teams Friday night against Franklin, but it still wasn’t enough as the Beavers’ defense struggled to stop the Knights’ high-powered passing attack in a 42-35 setback in their home opener.
And, the Beavers did it in a much different way offensively against a Franklin squad that had issues stopping the run in the first month of the season. DuBois ran for 182 yards, which is 42 more than it had through three games, while quarterback Alex Kovalyak — the area’s leading passer — was limited to 74 yards through the air on 10 of 17 passing.
Senior Michael Eisman powered that ground attack with 13 carries for 101 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game with an injury early in the fourth quarter. Adian Castro (4-47) and Ruben Estrada (8-37) also added rushing TDs on the night.
The Beavers also got a huge night on special teams from Dale Kot, who returned the second half kickoff 96 yards for a score and also had a 61-yard return in the first half that set up another score to help DuBois post its season-high in points with 35.
That output still wasn’t enough though as Franklin QB Ian Haynes carved up the DuBois defense all night. Haynes, who moved past Cathedral Prep’s Joe Mischler last week to become District 10’s all-time passing leader, went 26 of 40 for 335 yards with five TDs and one interception Friday.
With those 335 yards, Haynes is believed to be just the 14th QB on record to go over 8,000 yards with 8,085. That list also features Brockway’s Derek Buganza (4th, 9,752) and DuBois’ Matt Miller (14th, 8,048).
The DuBois defense did a nice job neutralizing Franklin’s top receiver Dalton Buckley, who came in with 28 grabs for 472 yards and five scores. He had just seven for 79 yards and two scores — all in the first half — as DuBois switched mid-game and had Zach Shilala shadow him allover the field with help over the top.
However, the Beavers couldn’t find an answer for Cade Adams on the other side, as the junior hauled in 14 catches for 198 yards and two scores. He entered the game with 16 grabs for 205 yards.
“The story of the night was we really never stopped them (Knights),” said DuBois coach Justin Marshall. “It seemed liked we’d take one thing away and then they’d hit another. We’d try to take that away and they would hit something else. We just have to focus and get better at taking care of our jobs. Right now we’re just not getting the job done.
“Offensively, we’re scoring points, and overall this was probably our best (offensive) game of the season turnover-wise, making good decisions. We got the run game going and were able to rack up plenty of yards.
“Michael, Ruben and Adian all looked good running the ball tonight, and that’s a positive moving forward. And, we’ve had two kick returns in two weeks. Defensively, we just have to focus and get better at our assignments.”
Franklin came out firing on all cylinders, putting together a 10-play, 67-yard scoring drive off the opening kickoff. Buckley capped the drive with a 9-yard touchdown catch. George Coons followed with the first of his six extra points.
DuBois tried to answer back as a a key 7-yard run by Eisman on third down and a 15-yard penalty on the Knights one play later put the Beavers in Knights territory at the 36. However, a fumble two plays later doomed the drive.
A holding penalty pushed the Knights back to their own 19, but that only momentarily slowed them down as Franklin needed just six plays to go 81 yards. A 16-yard TD grab by Buckley made it 14-0.
Franklin’s defense then forced the Beavers to turn the ball over on downs at midfield and needed just six plays to hit paydirt again on a 2-yard run by Eli Stewart to go up 21-0 in the opening minute of the second quarter.
DuBois responded with its first scoring drive, which was jumps-started by a 31-yard catch and run by Shilala on a screen pass. A pass interference call also aided the Beavers before Castro broke free on a 24-yard touchdown run. Nolan Bussell’s extra point made it 21-7.
Franklin’s offense kept rolling on the ensuing drive, with an 8-yard TD grab by Adams capping a 63-yard scoring march.
Kot countered with a 61-yard kickoff return to give the Beavers a short field at the Franklin 36. A 20-yard run by Eisman gave DuBois a first-and-goal at 8, and Kovalyak plunged in from a yard out two plays later to make it 28-14.
Franklin then threatened to make it five touchdowns in five first half possessions, as the Knights drove to the DuBois 1-yard line in the final 30 seconds of the half. However, DuBois’ Jake Mowrey made a nice play in the end zone for an interception, catching the ball on his knees just above the turf, to thwart the Knights’ drive and keep at a 28-14 game at the half.
DuBois inducted its 5th class to the school’s Sports Hall of Fame at halftime — a group that included Kimberly (Hanslovan) Marshall, Jude Pfingstler, Isaac Shaffer, Samuel Richards and the late Duke Burkholder.
The celebration rolled on for DuBois to start the third quarter as Kot returned the second half kickoff 96 yards to make it a seven point game at 28-21.
The scoring-fest continued from there as both teams scored in their next two drives.
Franklin got touchdown catches of eight and 12 yards from Adams and Stewart, while DuBois’ scoring drives were capped by runs of nine and two yards by Eisman and Ruben Estrada.
Eisman’s score as a nice individual effort as he skirted the DuBois sideline before taking a huge hit from behind just as he crossed the goal line. He was hurt on the next scoring drive — a series on which Estrada had five totes for 49 yards.
Trailing 42-35, DuBois’ then forced the first three-and-out by either defense in the game after pinning the Knights at the 10 on the kickoff. The Beavers got the ball back at the Franklin 40 following the game’s lone punt.
DuBois couldn’t capitalize on that field possession to potentially tie the game or even take the lead as a fumble on third-and-2 set up a fourth down at the 43. Franklin sacked Kovalyak on that play to get the ball back, then picked up a pair of first downs before running out the clock.
DuBois hosts undefeated Oil City (4-0) Friday night for Homecoming.