Flinthills bit by turnover bug in finale
TOWANDA – The Flinthills Mustang football team fell in their season finale on Thursday to the Yates Center Wildcats 44-15 and finished the 2020 campaign with a record of 1-8. However, the record and Thursday’s final score do not tell the whole story.
Coming into the season, Mustang head coach Daniel Scribner was worried if his team would be competitive after losing several seniors off of last year’s squad that went 1-8. He fielded a young team this year which included only four seniors, but the group proved they could hold their own in a battle.
The game was played on the artificial turf at Circle District Stadium in Towanda after the winter weather earlier in the week wreaked havoc on the Mustangs’ field and it was deemed unplayable for Thursday. So, the Mustangs and the Wildcats played an 8-man game with 11-man dimensions.
Flinthills’ Gavin Girty recovered an onside kick to start the game. Two plays later, it looked like the Mustangs were on their way to scoring when Tayler Brown broke free and headed for the endzone. But he fumbled just shy of the goal line and Yates Center recovered for a touchback.
The Mustang defense forced a punt and soon the offense was on the move again.
From the Wildcat 39, quarterback Hunter Lowmaster faked a handoff and threw deep to Tucker Travnichek who ran untouched to paydirt with 6:37 remaining in the first quarter. Cooper Studebaker rumbled in for the two-point conversion and the 8-0 lead.
The Wildcats responded in less than two minutes. Quarterback Sean Hurst sprinted 27 yards to the house on a keeper, then threw to Cash Cummings for the two-point conversion to tie the game.
Flinthills moved downfield effectively again, only to have the drive thrwarted when Lowmaster was intercepted by Blake Audiss.
The Wildcats took the lead moments into the second quarter when Carter Burton took it in from five yards out for a 14-8 Yates Center advantage.
Later in the quarter, Lowmaster tried to fit a pass in tight coverage and it was picked off by Hurst at the Yates Center 30. The Wildcats were not able to capitalize, but they would soon gain another turnover when Hurst picked off Lowmaster again and returned the ball to the Flinthills 12. With ten seconds to go until halftime, Preston Hurst caught a four-yard TD pass from Sean, who then passed to Cummings for the conversion.
At the half, the Wildcats led 22-8. Flinthills actually held a 188-176 advantage in total offensive yards at that point but not only did four first half turnovers hold the Mustangs back, they were also whistled for seven penalties in the opening 24 minutes.
“We had several opportunities where I didn’t feel like they stopped us, but we stopped ourselves,” Scribner said. “We just made some poor decisions.”
The Mustangs got the ball to start the second half. On 4th and 3 from their own 39, Lowmaster was stopped a yard shy of the sticks. Yates Center took advantage of the short field, and Sean Hurst passed to Preston for a 14-yard touchdown and a 30-8 lead following the conversion.
Late in the third, the Wildcats added to their lead when Sean Hurst got loose around the left end on 4th and 1, and he raced 47 yards for a touchdown. Yates Center took a 36-8 lead into the final quarter.
Flinthills was able to mount a successful ensuing drive and Brown found the endzone from three yards out. Cael Sorum kicked the PAT and the Mustangs trailed 36-15. Brown finished with 115 yards rushing for Flinthills.
“All year, our strength has been our ground game,” Scribner said. “We’ve been able to kind of grind on teams and grind on some really good teams. But for us to get to that next level we’ve got get our skill positions developed further so that we are not as one-dimensional.”
The Wildcats weren’t done, scoring 65 seconds later when Sean Hurst found Burton out of the backfield for a 49-yard catch and run touchdown. That would put a wrap on the scoring for the night.
Sean Hurst got it done all over the field for Yates Center, accounting for five touchdowns and 288 all-purpose yards on offense to go with a pair of interceptions on defense.
While the Flinthills season ends with just one victory, Scribner is excited for the future of the Mustang program.
“We should bring back a lot of experience,” he said. “And we’ve played a lot of younger skill guys that will really develop in the offseason. I would expect us to be more competitive next year and be able to throw the ball around some and still be able to grind when we need to.”
YATES CENTER - 8;14;14;8 – 44
FLINTHILLS - 8;0;0;7 – 15
6:37 – F – Tucker Travnichek 39 yd pass from Hunter Lowmaster (Cooper Studebaker run)
4:51 – YC – Sean Hurst 27 yd run (Cash Cummings pass from S. Hurst)
11:35 – YC – Carter Burton 5 yd run (pass failed)
0:10 – YC – Preston Hurst 4 yd pass from S. Hurst (Cummings pass from S. Hurst)
8:11 – YC – P. Hurst 14 yd pass from from S. Hurst (Cummings pass from S. Hurst)
1:58 – YC – S. Hurst 47 yd run (pass failed)
10:57 – F – Tayler Brown 3 yd run (Cael Sorum kick)
9:52 – YC – Carter Burton 49 yd pass from S. Hurst (S. Hurst run)
RUSHING: Yates Center – Cummings 7-58; L. Cavender 2-2; Burton 15-55; S. Hurst 16-125; Morrison 1-7. Flinthills – Brown 15-115; Travnichek 5-28; Lowmaster 13-30; McCreight 6-19; Beard 1-0; Studebaker 6-29-0; Girty 1-4.
PASSING C-A-TD-I-YD: Yates Center: S. Hurst – 9-20-3-0-136; Burton – 0-1-0-0-0. Flinthills: Lowmaster – 6-16-1-3-65.
RECEIVING: Yates Center – L. Cavender 1-4; Burton 2-67; P. Hurst 6-65. Flinthills – Travnichek 5-69; Girty 1-(-4).