DuBOIS - The Mifflin County Huskies used a dominating defense and opportunistic offense to win their 2013 season opener, 21-17, over the DuBois Beavers Friday night at Mansell Stadium.
The Huskies returned the favor on DuBois after the Beavers spoiled their home opener a year ago. Mifflin County led that one 24-13 at halftime before being shut out 21-0 in the second half.
"I said to everyone that it felt like a playoff game and maybe it was a preview of one to come," Huskies coach George Miskinis said. "It was a fun game to watch, but not to coach.
"Our defense came to play and I think we learned some things after what happened last year, about making plays in space and they certainly force you to do that."
It is certainly possible that the two could meet in another three months. Both are part of the District 6-9 Class AAAA subregional.
This time, the Beavers led 7-0 at halftime as Ian Hine returned a punt 40 yards with 38 seconds left in the second quarter.
But the Huskies, keyed by their defense and specifically senior safety Curtis Jerzerick, turned a pair of third-quarter turnovers into 14 points.
The Huskies (1-0), after getting just two first downs in the first half, punted on their first possession and DuBois took over on its 31. After running back Devin Clark was stopped for a loss of one, junior quarterback Gabe French floated a pass over the middle that Jerzerick intercepted and returned 28 yards to the Beaver 22.
Heath Hidlay was dropped for a loss of four yards on first down, but he used a stiff-arm to elude a DuBois tackler on the next play and gained 25 to the 1.
Kyle Kahley then used a big surge from his offensive line to bull his way into the end zone with 8:01 left in the third. Andrew Traxler's PAT boot was blocked.
The 7-6 deficit didn't last long.
After the Huskies forced a punt, they took over at their 21, but a fumble on first down was recovered by DuBois. The Beavers were in great field position at the Huskies 24, but their euphoria over the turnover was quickly extinguished.
On the very next play, DuBois junior Bryson Paulinellie fumbled and the ball bounced off the turf and into the hands of Jerzerick and he returned it 74 yards for a touchdown.
On the conversion, junior quarterback Brice Christine hit Hidlay just inside the pylon on the right side for two points and a 14-7 lead with 6:01 left in the third.
But the Beavers and Paulinellie got immediate redemption as the speedy return man took the kickoff back 86 yards for a touchdown. Josh Hnat's kick made it 14-14.
Another turnover - there were a total of seven in the game - resulted in DuBois re-taking the lead.
Beavers defensive tackle Tyler Fleeger stripped the ball from Huskies junior running back Jadon Boyer at the Mifflin County 32 and returned it a few yards to set the DuBois offense up at the Huskies 29.
A few short completions left DuBois with a third-and-7 from the 26. But French found Devin Clark for a gain of 12 and a penalty on a horse collar tackle moved the ball to the Huskies' 7.
Mifflin County stood tall though, holding Clark to four yards on three runs. Hnat lined up and kicked a 20-yard field goal with 1;47 left in the third and DuBois led 17-14.
The Huskies took the lead for good on the next possession.
With a third-and-10 from the 20, Christine hit John Michael Maclay in stride across the middle and he broke away from a tackler for a 56-yard gain to the DuBois 24.
Kahley gained seven yards on first down, then Hidlay got for a first down to the 12.
On the next play, Hidlay found plenty of room to run and scored with 11:31 left. Traxler's kick made it 21-17.
On DuBois' next possession, Trevor Schwiderske caught a pass for 26 yards, but Huskies then forced a punt that was downed at the 5 with 9:40 left.
Back-to-back eight-yard runs by Hidlay got the Huskies out of the shadow of their goal line. The Huskies ended up punting three plays later and the Beavers took over at their 47 with 6:43 left.
A series of short runs and pass plays got the Beavers to Mifflin County's 30. But on first down, a French pass was tipped and intercepted by a diving Kahley at the Huskies 21 with 4:03 left.
Mifflin County ended up punting again, but Maclay's boot was a good one and it wasn't fielded, rolling dead at the DuBois 9.
DuBois put Paulinellie at quarterback and he ran three times for 15 yards to the 24.
After a Beavers timeout with 1:24 left, French came back at QB, but a missed pass on fourth-and-2 from the 30 with 1:07 spelled the end for DuBois.
Mifflin held DuBois to 143 yards and nine first downs, two coming on penalties. Hidlay led the Huskies with 71 yards on 14 carries.
Mifflin County is back in action Friday at Williamsport.