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White leads Mounties against Huntingdon in key Big 8 contest

When analyzing the turnaround of the Philipsburg-Osceola Mounties, whose dramatic leap from an 0-2 season in 2002 to a 3-0 start this year, it’s easy to point to all-everything running back Adam White as the key factor.
White has rushed for over 200 yards in a single game twice this season and is nearing the 600-yard mark after only three games. He’s the main reason P-O has leveled opponents for over 266 rushing yards per game.
But while running the ball has long been the staple of successful Big 8 offenses, it’s the Mounties’ defense that has them atop the league standings.
P-O has allowed 14 points per game, surrendering a pair of touchdowns in each of their three outings. They have allowed a mere 87 yards rushing and 229 total yards of offense per game.
The Mounties defense has also shown itself to be one of the most opportunistic in the conference, forcing 10 turnovers.
But P-O’s biggest play defensively came last week in a non-conference win over Penns Valley. The teams were deadlocked at 14 with 2:44 to play when Valley was backed to its own 1-yard line on a 42-yard Miles Fenton punt.
On second down, Mountie linebacker Stan Koguc shot through on a blitz and sacked Ram quarterback Todd Bumgardner for a safety that gave P-O a 16-14 victory.
But while the Mounties have turned some heads with their unexpected start, the true test will come for them tonight at Memorial Field in Philipsburg when they take on the two-time defending league champion Huntingdon Bearcats. In three games, the ‘Cats have exposed a number of holes on both sides of the ball, but it’s never been too much to keep star quarterback Geoff Kozak from making game-breaking plays.
Non-Conference Scoop
Three weeks into the 2003 football season, the Big 8 Conference has had a mediocre performance against teams from outside the league. Big 8 teams have posted a combined 5-4 record against teams from outside the conference, with two of the losses being inflicted upon Indian Valley, and one coming at the hands of a traditional small school western power.
Valley, which opens its season yearly with three consecutive games against non-conference opponents, sandwiched a win over North Pocono in week two between losses to West Perry and Clearfield. Meanwhile, Bald Eagle Area, which opened the season with a pair of Big 8 victories, fell on the road last week at Sharpsville 17-12.
Bellefonte claimed the other non-conference loss with its 32-20 loss to Penns Valley in its season opener.
Top Performers
Huntingdon running back Jerrod Smith ran for an 85-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to put away a 27-0 Bearcat victory last week over Bellefonte at War Vets Memorial Field. He finished the game with 136 yards on 12 carries and was the conference’s top rusher.
Lewistown quarterback Nathan Heider, when not picking himself up from one of the six sacks put on him by the Tyrone defense, completed 20 of 30 passes for 219 yards and two scores and led the Big 8 in passing for Week 3.
Heider’s main target, Jared Dyer, caught nine passes for 116 yards and was the Big 8’s top receiver.