The Brockway Rovers remained undefeated on the season at 7-0 as they handed the Elk County Catholic Crusaders their first loss of the season Saturday night by a 35-14 score.
The Allegheny Mountain League South Division contest was played at Dutch Country Stadium before a crowd in the neighborhood of 2,000.
Also in the contest, Brockway’s Derek Buganza set the state passing record. Buganza now has 8,549 yards. Saturday night he was 21 of 29 for 268 yards. The Brockway senior needed 266 yards going into Saturday’s game to break the record.
The Crusaders and the Rovers battled to a 14-14 halftime tie in a game that looked like the last team to have the ball would win.
The Rovers, however, took advantage of a blocked punt to score on a short field, then drove 75 yards late in the third period to raise their lead to 28-14. They would drive 79 yards on 13 plays in the fourth quarter to cement the win.
“Our guys fought hard, but the blocked punt to start the second half hurt. Then we had a couple of injuries and just couldn’t stop their offense,” said ECCHS coach Travis Skrzypek.
“Brockway is a good football team. We played with them the first half but we couldn’t catch up in the second half. All-in-all, we fought hard. Now we have to get healthy and get back at it with a short week for Curwensville next Friday,” added Skrzypek.
The Crusader offense was led by Ricky Pearsall with 114 yards on 20 carries. Quarterback Kyle Schneider was six of 13 for 70 yards. Tyler Herzing caught four passes for 50 yards to lead the receiving corps.
Brockway was led by Buganza’s passing. He was 21 of 29 for 268 yards and an interception by Elk’s Brock McCullough. Mike Vervoort led the rushing game for the Rovers with 85 yards on 16 carries. He also scored all five of Brockway’s touchdowns, four on the ground and one in the air.
Elk Catholic won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. The Rovers took the opening kickoff and marched 84 yards in nine plays, with Buganza connecting with Vervoort on a 20-yard pass play, giving Brockway the 7-0 lead as Phil Esposito added the PAT with 8:09 left in the first period.
Elk Catholic drove from their own 25 to the Brockway 39 before they were forced to punt. Dave Bojalad’s punt was downed at the four-yard line of the Rovers. Brockway’s drive was halted by an interception by McCullough on Brockway’s 30 down to the 11. Pearsall picked up a yard on first down and one on second down as the teams traveled to the other end of the field and the first quarter ended. Pearsall gained two yards to the seven, bringing up fourth down and goal. On fourth down, Schneider found Herzing in the back right corner of the endzone for the touchdown as Herzing came down with one foot in-bounds, making the score 7-6. Bojalad added the PAT, tying the game at 7-all with 11:12 left in the first half.
Brockway responded with an 80-yard drive. Five passing plays moved it to the ECC 11. On first down, Vervoort scored from 11 yards out, making it 14-7 as Esposito added the PAT with 8:18 left in the first half.
The Crusaders started on their own 27 following the kickoff. Pearsall got three to the 30. Schneider to Herzing netted 32 more to the Brockway 38-yard line. Schneider found Bojalad for a 14-yard completion to the 24. Pearsall gained four to the 20 on first down. Cole Gerber gained a yard to the 19. On third and five, Pearsall scored from 19 yards out as Elk tied the game at 14 with five minutes left in the first half.
Brockway started on their own 33 after the kickoff. They moved to the Elk 49, where they fumbled and ECC’s Scott Krellner recovered, ending the drive.
The teams traded punts as the first half ended tied at 14.
On Elk’s first possession, they were forced to punt. The punt only traveled four yards as the Rovers got a piece of it. Four plays later, Vervoort scored from four yards out to give the Rovers the 21-14 lead with 9:52 left in the third period.
Elk was forced to punt on their next possession. Brockway took over on their own 20 after the kickoff went into the endzone. Brockway scored 16 plays later, as Vervoort scored from four yards out to make it 28-14 with 1:04 left in the third period.
The Crusaders were forced to punt on their next possession, which was halted at their own 39. Bojalad’s punt was downed at the Brockway 21-yard line. It took the Rovers 13 plays to travel the 79 yards, with Vervoort adding his fifth touchdown of the night from five yards out, making the score 35-14 with 3:47 left in the game.
Elk punted on their next possession, with the Rovers taking over at their own 35. Buganza took a knee twice as time ran out with the Rovers on top 35-14.
The Crusaders are now 6-1 on the year and 6-1 in the AML.
Saturday night was Senior Night for Elk Catholic as senior players, cheerleaders and band members, along with their parents, were recognized in pre-game ceremonies.
The Crusaders will travel to Curwensville on Friday night to take on the Golden Tide in another key AML South Division contest.
Unofficial game statistics
First downs 6 22
Yards gained rushing 120 177
Passes attempted 13 29
Passes completed 6 21
Intercepted by 1 0
Yards gained passing 70 268
Total yards 186 446
Punts-average 6-34 1-22
Penalties-yards 2-10 7-47
Fumbles-lost 0-0 4-1
Offensive plays 40 64
Score by quarters
Brockway 7 7 14 7 35
ECCHS 0 14 0 0 14
First quarter - Brockway - Derek Buganza to Mike Vervoort, 20-yard pass play. Phil Esposito kicked PAT, 7-0, 8:09.
Second quarter - ECCHS - Kyle Schneider to Tyler Herzing, 7-yard pass play. David Bojalad kicked PAT, 7-7, 11:12.
Second quarter - Brockway - Mike Vervoort, 11-yard run. Esposito kicked PAT, 14-7, 8:18.
Second quarter - ECCHS - Ricky Pearsall, 19-yard run. Bojalad kicked PAT, 14-14, 5:00.
Third quarter - Brockway - Mike Vervoort, 4-yard run. Esposito kicked PAT, 21-14, 9:52.
Third quarter - Brockway - Mike Vervoort, 4-yard run. Esposito kicked PAT, 28-14, 1:04.
Fourth quarter - Brockway - Mike Vervoort, 9 5-yard run. Esposito kicked PAT, 35-14, 3:47.
Rushing - ECCHS - Kyle Schneider 1 carry, 0 yards; Ricky Pearsall 20 carries,114 yards; Cole Gerber 3 carries, 2 yards; Brock McCullough 2 carries, 4 yards. Brockway - Derek Buganza 6 carries,15 yards; Mike Vervoort 16 carries, 85 yards; Chris Marshall 6 carries, 27 yards; Zack Freemer 8 carries, 54 yards.
Passing - Kyle Schneider 6-13-70, Ricky Pearsall 0-1. Brockway - Derek Buganza 21-29-1-268.
Receiving - ECCHS - Tyler Herzing 4 catches, 50 yards; David Bojalad 1 catch, 14 yards; Ricky Pearsall, 1 catch 6 yards. Brockway - Mike Vervoort 6 catches, 83 yards; Chris Marshall 5 catches, 63 yards; Tom Vervoort 1 catch, 15 yards; Jake Shaffer 3 catches, 29 yards; Kyle Braun 6 catches, 78 yards.