DUKE CENTER — The 13-mile rivalry between District 9 Small School North foes Otto-Eldred and Smethport is alive and well.
A season ago, the Hubbers used a trick play to pull off a 22-20 victory over the Terrors in a back-and-forth game that followed a three-hour weather delay.
There was no bad weather in this year’s edition of the rivalry, but the game featured plenty of fireworks for both teams in a competitive showdown that saw Smethport make enough plays down the stretch to pull off a 36-22 victory over Otto-Eldred.
Offensively, the two teams had vastly different gameplans. The Hubbers (4-0, 3-0) threw the ball just six times — for 11 yards — while Otto-Eldred (1-4, 1-2) put the ball in the air 38 times and scored three passing touchdowns.
“I thought that we did a pretty good job early on (against the pass) and we knew that we had to limit the big plays from them,” Smethport coach Adam Jack said. “We said coming into this game that it was going to be a battle of playmakers versus playmakers. I think that the game lived up to that on both sides of the ball and we just happened to make a few more plays than they did when it was all said and done.”
And there were big plays all over the field, but through no stretch more so than the second quarter. After the Hubbers scored a touchdown less than four minutes into the game, the two teams traded punts until the 5:50 mark of the second frame when Smethport’s Bryent Johnson picked off a Cole Sebastian pass and took it 33 yards for the score.
Sebastian answered back less than 90 seconds later with a touchdown pass to Colton Gietler, but Johnson showed off his playmaking prowess again by taking the ensuing kickoff 70 yards to the house.
Johnson accounted for 103 yards from scrimmage in back-to-back touches to put the Hubbers on top 22-6.
“I mean we’ve got two really good athletes (in Bryent and Braedon Johnson) there and I’m glad to see Bryent make a couple of big plays and get some recognition for it because the kid works really hard,” Jack said.
The two teams traded touchdowns again, and then Sebastian scored on a 23-yard run and converted on a two-point pass to get his Terrors within eight points (30-22) late in the third quarter.
But it would be the last touchdown for O-E, as the Smethport defense clamped down and Hubber running back Lucas Fowler scored from two yards out for an insurance touchdown mid-way through the fourth.
The Hubbers were able to chew up plenty of clock in the fourth quarter with their methodical rushing attack that featured quarterback Noah Lent carrying the ball 26 times for 174 yards.
Lent scored the game’s first touchdown on a 9-yard run and also broke off scampers of 14, 18, 13, 33 and 29 yards.
On one of his two completions in the game, Lent connected with Ryli Burritt on a 10-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
“It’s the line, that’s the only way we’ve been able to do it,” Lent said of the blockers up front. “The line was struggling early, but we picked it up a lot.”
Teammate Braedon Johnson added nine carries for 32 yards and the Hubs finished with 224 in the game.
“It’s just execution,” Jack said. “We came into this year thinking that we were going to throw the ball a lot, and things have kind of changed a little bit. We just have to take what they give us and make it work for us.”
Defensively, although the Hubbers allowed several big plays through the air, they forced the O-E offense into plenty of mistakes. The Terrors fumbled on each of their first two possessions, and Sebastian also threw two interceptions, including one late in the fourth to seal it.
“We just have good athletes out there playing coverage,” Jack said. They are experienced and they do a good job and they were in the right spot at the right time.”
Jake Merry led O-E with three catches for 57 yards, while Magee made five grabs for 26 yards and a 7-yard TD grab before the half.
With the win, the Hubbers have now pushed their regular season win streak to 13 games over the last two years. But they’ll have little time to enjoy Friday’s rivalry win, as they travel to New Bethlehem to face unbeaten Redbank Valley next week.
“I feel good about where we are, and how can you not? Jack said.
“We watched (Redbank play Otto-Eldred) a couple of weeks ago and they are solid from top to bottom. But that’s all you can do is ask for an opportunity to play in big games. Those are the games you are going to remember when you are older so we are excited about it.”
AT DUKE CENTER
Smethport 6 16 8 6—36
Otto-Eldred 0 14 8 0—22
First Downs: SM: 12, OE: 15; Rushes/Yards Rushing: SM: 42-224, OE: 19-145; Yards Passing: SM: 11, OE: 164; Comp-Att-Int: SM: 2-6-1, OE: 16-38-2; Penalties: SM: 7-75, OE: 8-75; Fumbles-Lost: SM: 1-1, OE: 2-2; Total Yards: SM: 221, OE: 302 Offensive Plays: SM: 50, OE: 57
Passing: SM: Noah Lent 2-6-0-1; OE: Cole Sebastian 16-38-164-2-2
Rushing: SM: Braedon Johnson 9-32, N. Lent 26-174-1, Hunter Lent 6-36, Lucas Fowler 1-2-1 OE: Sebastian 6-84-1, T.J. VanScoter 13-61
Receiving: SM: Ryli Burritt 1-10, Braedon Johnson 1-1; OE: Jake Merry 3-57, Colton Gietler 2-40-1, Cameron Magee 5-26-1, VanScoter 3-21, Ethan Smith 4-23
S: Noah Lent, 9-yard run (PAT blocked), 8:59
S: Bryent Johnson, 33-yard INT return (Lent run), 5:50
O: Gietler, 30-yard pass from Sebastian (2-pt run failed), 4:24
S: Johnson, 70-yard kickoff return (Lent run), 4:11
O: Magee, 7-yard pass from Sebastian (2-pt pass), 0:11
S: Burritt, 10-yard pass from Lent (Lent run), 7:49
O: Sebastian, 23-yard run (2-pt pass), 4:23
S: Fowler, 2-yard run (2-pt run failed), 6:31