BROCKWAY – The Elk County Catholic Crusaders came up a few yards short of beating the Brockway Rovers on Friday evening, losing 42-41 in 2 OT as their two-point conversion attempt failed.
"It was a hard-fought ball game the whole time," said ECC coach Travis Skrzypek. "Both teams played outstanding football. It was an exciting game. We just came out one point shy."
"We definitely played a solid game, I think. We didn't have any dumb penalties. We held onto the ball. We played a solid football game. We just didn't get it done at the end," Skrzypek added.
The Crusader offense was led by Cole Gerber, who had 67 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries. Brock McCullough added 61 yards and one touchdown on 16 carries.
ECC quarterback Mitchell Vallone was 6-of-14 for 75 yards and a touchdown.
Brockway was led by Tom Vervoort with 111 yards and four touchdowns on 21 carries. Quarterback Kyle Braun added 83 yards on 17 carries and Chad Melillo had 73 yards on 10 carries.
Braun was 2-of-5 for 36 yards.
For ECC, Hank Cappiello caught a 10-yard touchdown pass in the second overtime.
The Crusaders won the coin toss and elected to defer until the second half.
Brockway took advantage of a 65-yard kickoff return by Braun to start their opening drive with good field position at the Crusaders' 15-yard line. It took the team just four plays to find the endzone for the first time on a 2-yard run by Braun with 10:19 remaining in the first quarter. Phil Esposito made the PAT to give the Rovers a 7-0 lead, which they would hold for the remainder of the quarter.
It took ECC a while to get going, but the team had a productive second quarter and rallied back against the Rovers.
McCullough started things off by putting the team on the board with a 2-yard run with 11:51 remaining in the half. The Crusaders were unable to tie the game, though, as Scott Krellner's PAT attempt was blocked by the Rovers, making the score 7-6.
The Crusaders then took advantage of a fumbled snap on what would have been a Brockway punt to set themselves up in excellent field position, starting their drive at the Rovers' 1-yard line. A 1-yard run by Cole Gerber added to the Crusader advantage and McCullough made it back into the endzone on the try for two to give the Crusaders a 14-7 lead with 9:08 left in the half.
It looked like the contest would be tied headed into halftime as the Rovers scored on a 26-yard pass play to Levi Miller with 1:25 remaining and Esposito made the PAT to knot the game at 14-all. However, the Crusaders were able to put together a five-play drive that saw Gerber find the endzone on a 2-yard run as time ran out. Krellner made the PAT to give ECC a 21-14 lead at the half.
Both teams traded punts to start the second half. The Rovers were able to tie the game once again late in the third quarter on a 2-yard run by Vervoort. Esposito again made the PAT to make the score 21-all.
The Rovers would take the lead back early in the fourth quarter as the team found themselves with good field position, starting their drive from the Crusaders' 14-yard line after Braun picked off a pass by Vallone. It took the team just two plays to get back into the endzone on a 4-yard run by Vervoort. Esposito's PAT made the score 28-21.
Less than two minutes later, the Crusaders once again tied things up on a 2-yard run by Gerber. Krellner's PAT made the score 28-all.
Neither team was able to score for the remainder of regulation; however, the Crusaders did stage an impressive 16-play drive that stalled out at Brockway's 20-yard line.
Both teams were perfect in the first overtime period. The Crusaders had the ball first and scored on a 7-yard run by Vallone on third down. Krellner's PAT made the score 35-28.
Brockway responded with a 6-yard run by Vervoort on second down. Esposito made the PAT to tie the game once again at 35-all and send it into second overtime.
The Rovers had the ball first during the next overtime period, again scoring on second down on a 9-yard run by Vervoort. Esposito made the PAT to give the Rovers a 42-35 lead.
The Crusaders needed all their downs to get back into the endzone, scoring on a 10-yard pass play to Cappiello on fourth down. Instead of attempting a PAT to send the game into another overtime period, the Crusaders opted to try for two and go for the win.
"Obviously with the sure foot that they have, they're going to keep on kicking the extra points. We weren't so accurate this year [with making the extra points], so we put ourselves in position to win the game, and that [meant] going for [the 2-point conversion]," Skrzypek said. "We were going to go for it and try to end it right there."
McCullough took the handoff from Vallone, but was unable to make it into the endzone, giving the Rovers the 42-41 victory.
The Crusaders are now 5-2 on the season and 5-2 in the AML.
Elk Catholic returns to action next Friday when they host the Curwensville Golden Tide. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.
Unofficial game statistics
First downs 7 14
Yards gained rushing 145 231
Passes attempted 14 5
Passes completed 6 2
Intercepted by 0 1
Yards gained passing 75 36
Total yards 220 267
Punts-average 5-42 3-34
Penalties-yards 2-25 4-45
Fumbles-lost 1-0 4-0
Offensive plays 55 56
Score by quarters
Elk Catholic 0 21 0 7 7 6 41
Brockway 7 7 7 7 7 7 42
First quarter - Brockway - Kyle Braun 2-yard run, Phil Esposito kicked PAT, 7-0, 10:19
Second quarter - Elk Catholic - Brock McCullough 32-yard run, PAT failed, 7-6, 11:51.
Second quarter - Elk Catholic - Cole Gerber 1 yard run, Brock McCullough runs for 2-point PAT, 14-7, 9:08.
Second quarter - Brockway - Kyle Braun to Levi Miller 26-yard pass play, Phil Esposito kicked PAT, 14-14, 1:25.
Second quarter - Elk Catholic - Cole Gerber 2-yard run, Scott Krellner kicked PAT, 21-14, 0:00.
Third quarter - Brockway - Tom Vervoort 2-yard run, Phil Esposito kicked PAT 21-21, 2:01.
Fourth quarter - Brockway - Tom Vervoort 4-yard run, Phil Esposito kicked PAT, 28-21, 10:50.
Fourth quarter - Elk Catholic - Cole Gerber 2-yard run, Scott Krellner kicked PAT, 28-28, 9:19.
First OT - Elk Catholic - Mitchell Vallone 7-yard run, Scott Krellner kicked PAT, 35-28.
First OT - Brockway - Tom Vervoort 6-yard run, Phil Esposito kicked PAT, 35-35.
Second OT - Brockway - Tom Vervoort 9-yard run, Phil Esposito kicked PAT 42-35.
Second OT - Elk Catholic - Mitchell Vallone to Hank Cappiello 10-yard pass play, try for two failed, 42-41.
Rushing - Elk Catholic - Cole Gerber 17 carries, 67 yards; Brock McCullough 16 carries, 61 yards; Mitchell Vallone 7 carries, 17 yards; Joe McLaughlin 1 carry, 0 yards. Brockway - Anthony Benson 1 carry, 2 yards; Chad Melillo 10 carries, 73 yards; Kyle Braun 17 carries, 86 yards; Tom Vervoort 21 carries, 111 yards; Phil Esposito 2 carries -41 yards.
Passing - Elk Catholic - Mitchell Vallone 6-14-75. Brockway - Kyle Braun 2-5-36.
Receiving - Elk Catholic - Joe McLaughlin 2 catches, 46 yards; Brock McCullough 1 catch, -1 yards; Pat Brennen 1 catch, 16 yards; Cole Gerber 1 catch, 4 yards; Hank Cappiello 1 catch, 10 yards. Brockway - Levi Miller 1 catch, 26 yards; Jacob Perrin 1 catch, 10 yards.