PORT ALLEGANY — An impressive rushing performance from Smethport quarterback Noah Lent lifted the Hubbers to a 27-15 win at Port Allegany Friday.
Lent rushed for 171 yards and three touchdowns — from two, 40 and 84 yards out — on 22 carries for the Hubbers (2-0), which complemented a second-half shutout by the Smethport defense.
Braeden Johnson added 82 yards on 14 carries, and Hunter Lent carried the ball seven times for 10 yards and a score.
“Obviously we’re happy to be 2-0,” Smethport head coach Adam Jack said. “Every single week is going to get tougher, though… It’s good to be 2-0 at this point, but we’re going to keep taking things one game at a time.”
The first half was back-and-forth, as the teams traded the lead five times before halftime, with Port A (1-2) leading 15-13 following a 32-yard field goal from Shawn McNeil with nine seconds remaining in the second quarter.
To that point, the Gators had outgained Smethport 133-74 in total yardage, and were eating the clock just as they did in their 14-12 upset of Otto-Eldred.
But an injury to Port A feature running back Josh Rees kept him out of the second half, and the Gators struggled to move the ball from that point on. Rees finished with 121 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries, which all came in the first half.
Port Allegany head coach Justin Bienkowski told reporters after the game Rees broke three bones in his foot and will be out for the remainder of the season.
“That’s obviously a kick in the butt for us,” Bienkowski said while fighting back tears.
He added, “I loved our adjustments to what Smethport was doing, but we couldn’t execute it because we had guys playing out of position. We were out-manned, but not out-willed.”
The injury forced the Gators to go to the air in the second half. Freshman quarterback Drew Evens attempted 32 passes on the evening, completing 13 of them for 113 yards and no touchdowns. He was picked off three times on the evening, two of which came in the second half.
“Rees is a great player, and certainly it made (Port Allegany) more one-dimensional than they would like to be,” Jack said, adding, “We were having trouble attack their bubble play for a while. I think our guys were worried about getting burnt, but we encouraged them to be more aggressive and changed some of our coverage packages in the second half. It worked out for us.”
Travis Cooney, Ryli Burritt and Bryent Johnson each finished with an interception for the Hubbers.
Smethport seized momentum out of the gates in the second half, as the Hubbers attempted and recovered an onside kick to put Port Allegany on its heels.
Then, two plays later, Lent struck for his second touchdown of the evening, a 40-yard score.
“It certainly helped (to get) the momentum going for us after halftime after (Port Allegany) got that field goal,” Jack said of the successful gamble. “That was definitely a big drive for us right there, too, with those two plays to get us into the end zone.”
The teams traded possessions for the remainder of the third quarter. Smethport led the Gators 19-15 entering the fourth.
Lent began Smethport’s first drive in the final quarter with an 84-yard touchdown run to extend that lead to 25-15. Braeden Johnson added a two-point conversion run for Smethport to give the Hubbers their 27-15 advantage.
Lent’s impressive second half — 181 yards after finishing the first half with negative yardage — came by way in-game adjustments, according to Jack.
“Some of his runs in the first half, he was scrambling, but in the second half, those were designed runs,” the coach said. “The adjustments the (Port Allegany) defense made left some things available for us to try to take advantage of.”
Port Allegany’s final two drives ended in an interception and turnover on downs, allowing the Hubbers to run out the clock for their second victory of the season.
With the win, Smethport gains crucial momentum as it enters a tough stretch. In the next three weeks, the Hubbers take on three teams that qualified for the District 9 playoffs a season ago: Curwensville, Otto-Eldred and Redbank Valley.
The Gators, meanwhile, will have to find answers at running back and quickly, as they face Elk County Catholic next week and then take on Coudersport the week after. Bienkowski says the Gators will take a running back-by-committee approach.
“It’s going to be tough, but that’s football,” Bienkowski said. We have some holes in the boat. Those holes aren’t behavior, those holes aren’t discipline. We just have some guys out of position right now, and it’s our job as coaches to drill them. We have work to do at practices.”
AT PORT ALLEGANY
Smethport 7 6 6 8—27
Port Allegany 6 9 0 0—15
First Downs: Smethport: 13, Port Allegany: 12; Rushes/Yards Rushing: Smethport: 44-266, Port Allegany: 28-104; Yards Passing: Smethport: 17, Port Allegany 113; Comp-Att-Int: Smethport: 2-9-1, Port Allegany: 13-33-3; Penalties: Smethport: 9-80, Port Allegany: 6-69; Fumbles-Lost: Smethport: 4-2, Port Allegany: 2-1; Total Yards: Smethport: 283, Port Allegany: 217 Offensive Plays: Smethport: 60, Port Allegany: 67
Passing: Smethport: Noah Lent: 2-9-17-0-1; Port Allegany: Drew Evens: 13-32-113-0-3, Trey Ayers: 0-1
Rushing: Smethport: Hunter Lent: 7-10-1, Braedon Johnson: 14-82, Noah Lent: 22-171-3, Lucas Fowler: 1-3; Port Allegany: Noah Archer: 5-2, Josh Rees: 13-121-2, Taro Tanaka: 2-3, Evens: 6 (-28), Blaine Moses: 1 (-3), Howie Stuckey: 1-9
Receiving: Smethport: Richard McDowell: 2-17; Port Allegany: Moses: 4-56, Montgomery Tanner: 1-4, Rees 1-2, Ayers: 1-8, Stuckey: 1-5, Archer 4-37, Javon Stiles: 1-10
Port Allegany: Josh Rees, 20-yard run (PAT failed), 6:42
Smethport: Hunter Lent, 1-yard run (Noah Lent PAT), 1:43
Port Allegany: Rees, 25-yard run (2-pt conversion failed), 10:33
Smethport: Noah Lent, 2-yard run (2-pt conversion failed), 3:36
Port Allegany: Shawn McNeil, 32-yard field goal, 0:09
Smethport: N. Lent, 40-yard run, (2-pt conversion failed), 11:17
Smethport: N. Lent, 84-yard run (Braeden Johnson run), 9:34