By Pete Chiodo
The Meadville Tribune
October 27, 2012 7:00 a.m. DuBOIS —
A promising start by the Meadville football team was soon overwhelmed by a record-setting performance from DuBois running back Garrett Brown as the undefeated Beavers handed the Bulldogs a 58-24 loss in a Region 5 showdown on Friday at E.J. Mansell Stadium.
Brown — a nimble 5-foot-6, 155-pound senior — carried the ball 26 times, gaining 358 yards while rushing in four touchdowns. That yardage was a new single-game record for the DuBois program.
“He really did a great job,” said DuBois head coach Frank Varischetti. “He’s been doing that all season. (Friday) was probably his best performance of the bunch. He ran very determined, tough to tackle, fast. He’s the total package. He’s very shifty and he never seems to take a clean hit.”
Three of Brown’s touchdown runs were more than 40 yards. The first of those — a 65-yarder at the end of the second quarter — effectively shifted the momentum of the game away from Meadville (4-5, 2-4 Region 5) and over to DuBois (8-0, 5-0), where it would stay.
The Bulldogs got off to a hot start. They took their first drive 66 yards on 14 plays, and etched a 3-0 lead when Patrick Adams nailed a 27-yard field goal.
Then, on DuBois’ first offensive play of the game, Meadville’s Jarrid Miller stepped in front of a quick screen pass by Beavers quarterback Gabe French and returned the interception 22 yards to the DuBois 3.
MASH fullback Ryan Harkness powered through the left side to score the touchdown. And the ’Dogs led 10-0 with nearly five minutes left in the first quarter.
“We were executing the game plan, I don’t want to say perfectly, but pretty darn good the first quarter and a half,” said Meadville coach Mike Feleppa. “We were controlling the ball, keeping their offense off the field, moving the ball, playing decent defense.”
DuBois got on the board with a 10-play scoring drive. However, the Bulldogs kept the Beavers out of the end zone, and the home team settled for a 28-yard field goal by Josh Hnat.
Meadville got right back to work on offense, piecing together a 15-play, 63-yard series that ended with Harkness plowing into the end zone from one yard out, pushing the Bulldogs in front 17-3.
“The first half, (Meadville) did what they wanted to do, especially in the first quarter,” said Varischetti. “They were up 17-3 on us and we were a little worried. But our kids never got down on themselves and just stuck to the game plan and eventually things evened out for us.”
That last touchdown would be the last the Bulldogs would see of the end zone until the fourth quarter as DuBois, led by Brown, went on to score 48 unanswered points.
The Beavers made it 17-10 on the next drive, scoring on a 14-yard pass from French to Garrett Miles. Brown broke off a 27-yard run the play before that to get his team into the red zone.
Meadville then fumbled away its next possession, giving DuBois a short field. They used it to tie the game at 17 following a one-yard dive by Shane Marshall.
Then with 28.6 seconds to go in the half, Meadville’s drive stalled on DuBois’ 35. And on DuBois’ first play, Brown got around the outside and squirmed out of four tackles on his way to a 65-yard touchdown run, giving the Beavers a 24-17 lead going into the break.
“I think that really swung the momentum, that run at the end of the first half,” Varischetti said. “We’ve been doing that all year, scoring with under a minute left in the first half. It seems to give us a really good boost at halftime. Meadville probably thought they couldn’t have played much better in the first half. And then to go into the locker room down 7, that had to be demoralizing.”
In the third quarter, DuBois rolled. Brown finished the Beavers’ first drive with a 44-yard touchdown run, again spinning off a couple arm tackles by the Bulldogs. The Beavers now led 31-17.
Another Meadville fumble gave the Beavers the ball on MASH’s 30. Three plays later, French hit Miles on the same screen pass they scored on in the second quarter, and this made it 37-17 DuBois.
The Beavers’ next drive went 40 yards on six plays. Brown capped it off with a six-yard touchdown run. DuBois led 44-17 near the end of the third.
And to start the fourth, Brown broke a 49-yarder into Meadville territory. Then French went back to Miles for a 28-yard touchdown pass that made it 51-17 Beavers.
Meadville finally answered with an eight-play, 65-yard series that ended with Harkness scoring his third and final TD on a two-yard carry.
Harkness would end the game with 28 carries for 152 yards, pushing him over 1,000 yards for the season.
Yet, on DuBois’ very next play Brown was once again off to the races, breaking through a series of tackles on his way to a 55-yard score. That carry would give Brown the DuBois record.
“(Brown) is a great running back, don’t get me wrong,” said Feleppa. “He had a heck of a game. But you’ve got to be able to tackle. I thought our kids were in position a lot of times. And we tackled him in the first half. I thought the scheme was good. We changed it up a couple times in the second half because he was starting to have some success. And we still weren’t able to make the tackles.”
Brown had all but four of the Beavers’ carries in the game. The rest of the backfield added five net yards to DuBois’ total.
French, however, completed 9 of 15 passes for 102 yards and three touchdowns. Miles was his top target with four catches for 67 yards and all three scores.
DuBois ended the game with 465 yards overall.
Meadville ended the night with 312 yards of offense. Tim Bolden was the Bulldogs’ second-leading rusher after Harkness with 51 yards on eight carries. Trevor Martin had 18 carries for 47 yards. Artrel Foster had 12 carries for 35 yards. And quarterback Tyler Minnis was 2-for-3 passing for 29 yards.