LEWISTOWN - Mifflin County trotted back onto Mitchell Field at halftime, clinging to a 24-20 lead over DuBois in its home opener Friday night.
The Huskies' offense was clicking behind the running power of senior tailback Tim Beck. But Beck's running in the first half was overshadowed by the running prowess of DuBois' Garrett Brown.
Each backer ran for more than 100 yards in the first half. But it was the stellar third quarter from the Beaver defense that victimized Mifflin County, which lost the non-league contest 34-24.
Sentinel photo by BUFFIE BOYER
Mifflin County’s Chase Pitts runs the ball against Dubois Friday evening during the home and season opener at Mitchell Field.
DuBois amassed nearly 400 yards of offense, 250 of which came on the ground. Brown finished the night with 173 yards and a trio of touchdowns.
Mifflin County's passing attack - or lack there of - was the difference in the ballgame. Senior quarterback Shane Whalen completed only three passes for 34 yards in the option-style offense of coach George Miskinis. All three passes were caught by Aaron Michaels.
"The problem is we were open but it wasn't the first read," Miskinis said. "They took away the first read and by the time Shane got to the second (read) the pressure was on him."
The Huskies' first-half offense was on its way to putting on a showcase against the Beavers. Beck's four-yard touchdown run with 1:58 left in the first quarter put Mifflin County up 24-13 with the momentum shifting its way.
But the Beavers came screaming back with a 71-yard drive - capped off by Gabe French's 21-yard touchdown strike to Bryson Paulinellie - that lasted less than a minute to pull within four heading into the half.
Then, right out of the locker room, Beck and the Huskies looked poised to take off and send the Beavers heading back home.
Beck returned the opening kickoff of the third quarter 61 yards to set the Huskies up with great field position. But on the next play, Beck rushed for 10 yards then fumbled. Quickly the momentum at Mitchell Field had shifted - not in the Huskies favor.
"At that point it took a lot of wind out of our sails," Miskinis said. "If we get a score there, it turns the whole momentum our way."
The Huskies didn't score. In fact, Mifflin County failed to score for the rest of the tilt. But they were sure in it the whole way.
Following Beck's fumble, Brown dashed 77 yards for a touchdown that was negated due to an unsportsmanlike conduct call. But that didn't stop the Beaver senior. He broke open his next handoff for 25 yards and eventually found the end zone with a one-yard scamper to give DuBois its first lead - 27-24 - since the first quarter.
Still, the Huskies kept fighting.
Following a Mifflin County punt, the Beavers were once again threatening the red zone. But junior Colton Craig came away with a fumble to give possession back to the Huskies at their own 31.
Two plays later, Whalen was intercepted for the for the third time to give the Beavers another crack at the end zone.
"We get the ball back and don't do anything and then they get the lead," Miskinis said. "That gave them more momentum than we could overcome."
In the third quarter, Mifflin County ran only eight plays. That led to DuBois having complete control. But give the Husky defense credit - the home team only let the Beavers in the end zone once in the frame.
"They took away ball control in the third quarter," Miskinis said. "That was the turning point."
DuBois opened the fourth quarter with a third-and-15 in Husky territory. But Curtis Jerzerick and Craig sacked French on back-to-back plays to give the Huskies the ball once again.
With the score still in reach for Mifflin County at 27-24, the Huskies went three and out and gave possession back to DuBois.
That's when something happened that the fans at Mitchell Field may never see again. French's pass to Garrett Miles was complete. Miles then fumbled and gave the Huskies the ball inside the 5 of Mifflin County.
However, the very next play, the Huskies fumbled. And that wasn't it. DuBois fumbled on the next snap, handing the Huskies the ball again.
Unfortunately, Mifflin County didn't do much with it. A short drive led to a punt for Mifflin County. That led to the Beavers' final scoring drive - a 19-yard series capped off by a Shane Marshall three-yard touchdown.
"In every game there are five major plays that happen," Miskinis said. "Tonight we had four of those five go against us. If we get three of those and they get two, we come out on top."
Miskinis and his players held their head high walking off the field. And then the Husky coach shook DuBois coach Frank Varischetti's hand and said, " We'll see you in the playoffs."
Mifflin County gets back to work when its hosts Williamsport Sept. 7 at Mitchell Field.