PHILIPSBURG — For the first time this season, Huntingdon was the team celebrating when the clock ran out as the Bearcats beat Philipsburg-Osceola, 34-13, in a battle of winless teams here Friday night.
For Huntingdon it was the 650th win in the history of a storied program. For the Mounties, it was another night of futility and frustration.
P-O turned the ball over five times on three fumbles and two interceptions and four of those turnovers led directly to Huntingdon touchdowns.
“Turnovers are what kills you and that’s what killed us tonight,” said P-O coach Jeff Vroman. “That’s been killling us all year. We must be around minus 30 in turnovers and you can’t do that against the teams we play.”
None of the P-O turnovers hurt as badly as the fumble at the Huntingdon 16 in the early part of the third quarter. The Mounties had taken the kickoff and were on what looked like a 65-yard march when Nick Gray fumbled and Huntingdon recovered to stop the drive.
Three plays later Rhett Stetchock got loose around the left side and hugged the sideline for a 72-yard score that snapped a 13-13 tie. Devon Claar kicked the PAT and the Bearcats were up 20-13 with 6:27 left in the half.
“After the turnover they got that long run for a touchdown,” Vroman said. “That’s the way it’s been for us all season.”
But for the first half, the Mounties were holding their own, grabbing the lead for the first time this season when Eric Smith went 27 yards on an inside reverse to make it 6-0 with 6:59 still to go in the first quarter. The extra point kick was blocked.
And when the Mounties stopped Huntingdon on downs at the P-O 29, a wave of optimism rolled along the Mountie sideline as they moved the ball out to midfield. But Claar picked off a Curtis Matsko pass and returned it 57 yards to a touchdown, then kicked the PAT with :53 left in the quarter, making it 7-6.
The Bearcats then forced another turnover, recovering a fumble on the ensuing kickoff at the P-O 33. It took seven plays for them to reach the end zone, Josh Foster getting the final two on a quarterback sneak at the 9:25 mark. The PAT kick was no good, leaving the score at 13-6.
But the Mounties bounced back, getting the ball back via a punt with 1:22 left at the Huntingdon 25. A 21-yard pass from Matsko to Smith put the ball at the Huntingdon 3 and two plays later Gray was in the end zone. Nick Boumerhi kicked the tying PAT with :26 left in the half.
After Stetchock’s long run for a score Huntingdon increased its lead when it mounted a 56-yard drive staying completely on the ground. Claar scored from the 4 and kicked the PAT, making it 27-13 with 1:17 left in the quarter.
And after Matsko fumbled at the Mountie 13 late in the fourth quarter, Foster hooked up with Dakota Peters for a 20-yard score and Claar kicked the PAT to set the final at 34-13.
“I’m happy for our kids, they’ve been through a lot of adversity,” said Huntingdon coach Mike Hudy. “We re-evaluated what we were doing, worked hard on fundamentals and it paid off. That touchdown run (by Stetchock) really changed the dynamic of the game. In high school ball it’s all about ball security and turnovers.”