KANE – The Elk County Catholic Crusaders had Kane beat. They had the momentum and the lead and appeared to have the game well in hand, but in the end ECC beat themselves by committing too many penalties and allowed the Wolves to rally back for a 17-14 homecoming victory on Friday night in Kane.
ECC coach Travis Skrzypek tried to look past his squad's first loss and instead focused on the quality of play both teams put up, and the effort that Kane first-year head coach Todd Silfies put into preparing his team for the game.
"What a great football game," Skrzypek said. "We came out on the short end of the stick, but every kid on this field got better today. Congratulations to Kane. Coach Silfies had a great game plan. They played well. It came down to the little things, but all-in-all it was just a great football game tonight."
The 'little things' that had a big impact on the outcome were the 55 penalty yards the Crusaders racked up throughout the contest compared to 30 for the Wolves.
"You never can [afford to] have penalties, it doesn't matter who you're playing," Skrzypek said. "They hurt us big time a lot of times. We had them fourth and long, we had them punting once, and it hurt us. We can't have those type of penalties."
Hank Cappiello led the Crusaders on the ground with 93 yards rushing. Quarterback Mitchell Vallone was 7-for-13 for 66 yards, and Clayton Housler had three receptions for 33 yards and also recorded an interception for the Crusaders.
For the Wolves, Jonah Smith led the team with 130 yards on 24 carries. Quarterback Sean Jordan was 13-for-24 for 131 yards, and Jeff Kocjancic had 9 catches for 99 yards, including both of his team's touchdowns.
Kane won the coin toss and elected to receive, taking 13 plays to march the ball 59 yards down the field for the touchdown after Jordan connected with Kocjancic on a two-yard pass play. Sean Rolick made the PAT, giving the Wolves a 7-0 lead with 5:07 remaining in the first quarter.
Elk Catholic answered with a touchdown drive of their own, though the drive almost fizzled out at the Wolves' 32-yard line. After a near interception on third down, Vallone dropped back to pass again as the Crusaders tried to go for it on fourth down. Vallone came under heavy pressure though and had to scramble around in the backfield trying to avoid the Wolves and find an open man downfield. He somehow managed to do just that, sending the ball into the arms of Housler for a 19-yard gain to keep the drive going. Brock McCullough would score the touchdown for the Crusaders on a five-yard run, knotting the score at 7-all with 58 seconds left in the opening quarter.
That was enough time for Kane to start driving back toward the endzone, and they were already at the Crusaders' 27-yard line when the second quarter started. After allowing the Wolves to get as close as the 8, ECC began slowly pushing them back. Jordan was sacked by Cappiello and Adam Evers for a nine-yard loss on first down, had an incomplete pass on second down and only managed to get four yards on a quarterback keep on third down. On what would have been an incomplete pass on fourth down to turn the ball back over to ECC, pass interference was called on the Crusaders, giving Kane a first down at ECC's 9. The Crusaders stopped them again though, and the Wolves settled for a 26-yard field goal on fourth down to go up 10-7 with 7:23 left in the half.
Kane was not in front for long though. On the Crusaders first play of their next drive, ball carrier Cappiello seemed to disappear in a group of the Wolves defenders and it did not initially appear as though he was going to pick up much ground. Cappiello somehow got free though and ran the ball in 72-yards for the touchdown, giving the Crusaders a 14-10 advantage with 7:02 left in the half after Ryan Seelye added the PAT.
The score would remain that way until late in the fourth quarter. Kane started their final scoring drive at the end of the third and continued it throughout much of the fourth, aided by ECC penalties. It initially looked like the Crusaders had the Wolves stopped at Kane's own 26-yard line. It was fourth down and Kane was set to punt the ball away. On the kick though, Crusader Ben Cortina laid out the Kane kicker, resulting in a 15-yard penalty for roughing the kicker and giving the Wolves the ball back and improved field position with a first down at their own 42-yard line. The move handed the momentum back to Kane and they promptly drove all the way down to ECC's 6. On what would have been a first and goal play where Kane would not have gained much ground, a face mask call on ECC moved the ball half the distance to the goal to the 3. The Crusaders were then called offsides on the next play, taking the ball to about the 1. Kane suffered a minor setback as the Wolves were called offsides on the next play, resulting in a 5-yard loss, but Jordan eventually connected with Kocjancic on a 7-yard pass play on fourth down, giving Kane the winning touchdown and a 17-14 lead after Rolick added the PAT with 3:08 remaining.
The Crusaders went four-and-out on their next drive, and Kane used their final drive to run out the clock and secure the 17-14 victory.
The Crusaders are now 5-1 on the season and 5-1 in the Allegheny Mountain League.
Elk Catholic will be back in action next Saturday when they host Brockway in a 7 p.m. contest.
Unofficial game statistics
First downs 6 17
Yards gained rushing 150 149
Passes attempted 13 24
Passes completed 7 13
Intercepted by 1 0
Yards gained passing 66 131
Total yards 216 280
Punts-average 4-37 3-29
Penalties-yards 7-55 3-30
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Offensive plays 34 54
Score by quarters
Elk Catholic 7 7 0 0 14
Kane 7 3 0 7 17
First quarter - Kane - Sean Jordan to Jeff Kocjancic on 9-yard pass play. Sean Rolick kicked PAT, 7-0, 5:07.
First quarter - Elk Catholic - Brock McCullough 5-yard run. Ryan Seelye kicked PAT, 7-7, 0:58.
Second quarter - Kane - Sean Rolick kiced 26-yard field goal, 10-7, 7:23.
Second quarter - Elk Catholic - Hank Cappiello 72-yard run. Ryan Seelye kicked PAT, 14-10, 7:02.
Fourth quarter - Kane - Sean Jordan to Jeff Kocjancic on 7-yard pass play. Sean Rolick kicked PAT, 17-14, 3:08.
Rushing - Elk Catholic - Hank Cappiello, 7 carries, 93 yards; Mitchell Vallone, 2 carries, -2 yards; Joe McLaughlin, 3 carries, 7 yards; Brock McCullough, 9 carries, 52 yards. Kane - Jonah Smith, 24 carries, 130 yards; Sean Jordan, 9 carries, -20 yards; Sean Rolick, 6 carries, 31 yards; Jamie Lingenfelter, 2 carries, 8 yards.
Passing - Elk Catholic - Mitchell Vallone - 7-13-66. Kane - Sean Jordan 13-24-131.
Receiving - Elk Catholic - Clayton Housler, 3 catches, 33 yards; Ryan Childs, 2 catches, 18 yards; Hank Cappiello, 1 catch, 6 yards; Joe McLaughlin, 1 catch, 9 yards. Kane - Jeff Kocjancic, 9 catches, 99 yards; Sean Rolick, 3 catches, 33 yards; Andrew Pierson, 1 catch, 2 yards.