FRANCONIA TWP. — A.J. Curotto's puffy right eye was emblematic of how hard the Souderton Area football team fought on Friday night, but too much Josh Adams kept Big Red from earning its first win of the season.
Adams' 247 rushing yards and three touchdowns allowed the Titans to overcome deficits on two separate occasions and fend off upset-minded Souderton, 45-26, in a Suburban One League Continental Conference contest.
It was Curotto who actually tackled Adams for a loss on a play early in the third quarter, with Big Red (0-5) leading 20-14. On the play, a stiff arm by Adams resulted in Curotto getting poked in the eye and the quarterback slash safety would have to leave the game for a few series due to eye spasms.
It just seemed nothing was going to get in Adams' way on this night.
"All he needs is a seam,' Big Red coach Ed Gallagher said of the 6-foot-1, 210-pound junior. "Once he gets out, he really sets up his blocks well. Once he gets out in the open field, he's really hard to bring down. We had good football players trying to tackle him and they just struggled. The kid is really good.'
Adams broke free down the right sideline for a 48-yard touchdown run that put South (4-1) ahead 24-20 late in the third quarter. He topped that run just moments later, as his 57-yard burst - his longest of the night - extended the Titan advantage to 31-20 on the final play of the third.
A Matt Radwanski-to-Paul Weeks scoring strike pushed the margin to 38-20 and then it was time for another long run by Adams.
Even when South's elusive, breakaway back seemed to be caught, he got away. The junior made multiple tacklers miss and then he tip-toed down the sideline for a 53-yard run midway through the fourth.
That set up a 19-yard sprint to the end zone by Dion Clifton, giving South a 45-20 lead with a couple minutes to go. The Titans were able to put away a determined Souderton squad that led multiple times throughout the first half.
"They say the best defense is an offense that can sustain a drive, and that was kind of our motto in the first half,' said Curotto, who directed an attack that had almost twice as many first-half plays as South (35-to-19).
Big Red took the opening kickoff and went 64 yards in 11 plays, opening the scoring with a six-yard touchdown run by Nate Landes. South tied it with a seven-yard run to the corner by Adams and then went up 14-7 on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Radwanski to Weeks.
However, Big Red evened things up with a 13-yard touchdown run by Curotto, on a play that had just about everybody in the stadium fooled, including the Titans.
"It's a play that we had run a couple times on that drive,' Curotto said. "It's an option play so I can either give it to the fullback or take it myself. They had started crashing on the fullback a little bit so I decided to keep it, saw an alley and went for it.'
Minutes later, Big Red was back in the end zone, this time leaving no time for South to answer. A 12-play drive was capped off with Marcus Miller (84 yards) crashing in from two yards out, giving the Indians a 20-14 lead with just four seconds left before halftime.
"Offensively in the first half, we did just about everything we had hoped to do,' Gallagher said. "We had long, sustained drives. We kept their offense off the field as much as possible and it really couldn't have gone much better. Unfortunately, attrition got the better of us and we lost to a good football team.'
Souderton's injury-depleted defense had trouble stopping South after the break. A 32-yard field goal by Jon Williams brought the Titans within 20-17 in the third and then Adams did the rest.
Big Red did cap the scoring when backup quarterback Joe Curotto found Markeem Graham for a 12-yard score with seconds to play.
Souderton fought hard, but Adams gives South a tremendous knockout punch.
"You can't simulate 6-1, 210 - with that speed - in practice,' Gallagher said. "He's a special talent.'
Central Bucks South 45, Souderton Area 26
CB South (4-1, 2-0) 7 7 17 14 - 45
Souderton (0-5, 0-2) 7 13 0 6 - 26
S: Nate Landes 6 run (Adam Strogis kick), 6:26
CBS: Josh Adams 7 run (Jon Williams kick), 2:55
CBS: Paul Weeks 35 pass from Matt Radwanski (Williams kick), 11:12
S: A.J. Curotto 13 run (Strogis kick), 7:17
S: Marcus Miller 2 run (kick blocked), :04
CBS: Williams 32 field goal, 9:50
CBS: Adams 48 run (Williams kick), 1:28
CBS: Adams 57 run (Williams kick), :00
CBS: Weeks 29 pass from Radwanski (Tyler Fischer kick), 6:33
CBS: Dion Clifton 19 run (Fischer kick), 2:50
S: Markeem Graham 12 pass from Joe Curotto (kick failed), :13
First Downs: 17 22
Rushing yards: 312 267
Passing yards: 143 79
Total yards: 455 346
Passing: 8-17-2-0 6-10-1-1
Fumbles lost: 0 1
Turnovers: 0 2
Punts: 1 2
Penalties-yards: 4-30 2-15
CBS: Josh Adams 20-247, 3 TD; Radwanski 3-12; Clifton 4-53, TD
S: Blake Gular 18-91; Miller 19-84, TD; Landes 9-29, TD; A.J. Curotto 6-42, TD; Ben Yerk 4-10; Manny Nieves 1-11
CBS: Radwanski 8-17-143-2-0
S: A.J. Curotto 4-6-36-0-1; Joe Curotto 2-4-43-1-0
CBS: Adams 2-29; Kevin Moran 1-12; Clifton 2-27; Weeks 3-75, 2 TD
S: Nieves 3-54; Jake Smerecki 2-13; Graham 1-12, TD
Follow Kev Hunter on Twitter@khunter10.