Big plays take down Huskies in fourth

LEWISTOWN – If you like smash-mouth, power football then Monday night’s game between Mifflin County and Cumberland Valley was gridiron nirvana at Mitchell Field.

For 48 minutes, the Eagles and Huskies took turns smacking each other around trying to see who would be the first to break. Both teams showcased their power rushing attack and physical play in the trenches.

In the end, it was the big play, surprisingly through the air, that lifted Cumberland Valley to the 21-7 Mid-Penn Conference Commonwealth victory over Mifflin County.

With the score 7-7, Cumberland Valley took control of the game with two fourth quarter touchdowns – both featuring tailback Tyler Updegraff.

The first and decisive score came on a 44-yard pass from Chris Galbraith to Updegraff on third-and-14 that made it 14-7 with 9:32 left in the game. Updegraff was left wide open on a wheel route when the Husky defense bit on a play-action fake. The Eagle senior tipped the ball to himself and went untouched into the end zone.

“We caught them off-guard with the backfield pass and that was a great pass. I tipped that up to myself and I don’t know if I could do that again if I had another chance,” Updegraff said. ” I just said to myself you have to catch this ball Tyler. We didn’t come out as hard as we wanted to in the first half. They were big and physical. We regrouped in the second half and came out strong.”

Mifflin County coach George Miskinis agreed with Updegraff’s comments on the pass play.

“We got caught looking in the backfield. We got caught with the play action going away and then they threw it back. It was a great call by them,” Miskinis said. “What’s happening is we are on the wrong end of the big play right now. We’ve got to turn around and make that big play again. We haven’t been able to do that to establish some momentum and that hurt us.

“The other big thing was field position. We didn’t have it in the second half and that makes you go a little conservative trying to move the sticks and at the same time you can’t risk a turnover down in your own end.”

The Eagles (6-1, 4-0), ranked ninth in the state, got everything they could handle and more from the Huskies (4-3, 1-3) through three quarters of play.

“Hats off to our players. They did a great job,” Miskinis said. “The effort was there. We just have to learn to finish plays, finish tackles, wrap up and make sure we got our reads down and not get caught peeking in the backfield on critical situations. We’ll get better at it. It takes time.”

The second big play in the quarter came on a run up the gut in which Updegraff broke through and sprinted 84 yards to paydirt. Updegraff finished the game with 189 total yards, 145 rushing, and two scores.

“They are tough. I knew coming in Mifflin County has played everyone tough. They have a big, physical line and we knew it would be a battle coming up here,” Cumberland Valley coach Mike Whitehead said. “I knew we had our work cut out for us. They gave us everything they had, but we made the plays in the second half and got the W.

“Mifflin County played like I expected. They were very physical up front and big. They are the biggest team we played all year. We challenged our guys on blocking technique and I knew Mifflin County would come out hungry after two losses. We played to win, got the W and that’s all that matters.

“We challenged our guys to make sure our conditioning would wear them down. They are a lot bigger than we are and we were hoping they would get tired and I think that’s what happened in the second half.”

The first half saw both teams flex their muscles and eat up the clock with two long drives that resulted in points.

The Huskies took the opening kickoff and marched on a 12-play, 67-yard drive culminating in a Heath Hidlay four-yard touchdown run, chewing up more than six minutes of clock. Hidlay, who finished with 67 yards on 18 carries, keyed the drive with 32 yards on seven carries.

Cumberland Valley answered with a time-chewing drive of its own, eating up five minutes of clock on a 12-play, 48-yard campaign that ended with a Tyler Heisey 1-yard touchdown plunge up the middle. The key play of the drive was a 15-yard pass interference penalty against the Huskies on a third-and-12.

“Our 1-2 punch of Heisey and Updegraff have been solid for us all year and they did it again tonight,” Whitehead said. “We broke off the big run because we were a little fresher. In the end, it was a good game. A very well-played game by both teams.”

Cumberland Valley outgained the Huskies 280-201 in total yards. Mifflin County collected six sacks on the night with defensive end Jared Pennepacker leading the way with two.

Mifflin County hits the road on a short week to take on Central Dauphin East Friday.

“Our biggest concern with the short week will be our mental outlook,” Miskinis said.” They can dwell on this right now, but once the bell sounds at the end of school Tuesday, our focus better be on CD East because if not we’ll set ourselves up for failure.”