Penn Manor controlled the clock for much of the first half.
The Comets also took advantage of several Conestoga Valley miscues throughout.
And for the first time since 2014, Penn Manor's football team won its season-opener with a 19-13 nonleague victory in Witmer on Friday night.
“It’s a big step in the right direction and it’s starting to vindicate what we’ve been preaching,” Penn Manor fifth-year coach John Brubaker said.
Brubaker picked up his first season-opening victory as the Comets’ skipper as Penn Manor has already matched last year’s win total. Friday’s performance from the Comets wasn’t a total surprise, considering they entered the 2019 campaign with eight starters back on both sides of the ball.
Among them is bruising senior running back Josh Gibson, who gathered 86 of his 101 rushing yards in the first half, often brought down by multiple tacklers after he busted through holes opened up by junior linemen Peyton Suydam, Austin Miller, Nick Baker and Benjamin Weaver and sophomore Pedro Gomez.
“This is the first time for me where I’ve went 1-0 at Penn Manor,” Gibson said. “This is amazing.”
The Buckskins’ second drive of the game appeared promising until they fumbled the ball away deep in Penn Manor territory. The Comets proceeded to go down the field with a 12-play, 81-yard scoring drive capped by junior quarterback Luke Braas (16 for 28, 176 yards, 2 TDs) connecting with senior wideout Logan Legenstein in the front, right corner of the end zone for a 19-yard strike.
CV answered on the next play from scrimmage when senior QB Bradley Stoltzfus (11 for 20, 169 passing yards, 2 TDs, 48 rushing yards) found junior wideout Zach Fisher wide open down the right sideline for a 70-yard TD bomb to tie the score 7-7.
This is where this year’s version of the Comets grew from last year’s version, according to Gibson.
“Last year, we would be doing well and then the other team would have a big play and we’d be flat the rest of the game,” Gibson said. “This year, the atmosphere is totally different. We bounced right back and went down and scored again.”
Penn Manor’s next drive was kept alive when a Comets' punt to CV was muffed by the Buckskins and recovered by Penn Manor around midfield. Ten plays later, Gibson skirted around the left side and found pay-dirt on a 19-yard rushing TD to put the Comets back up 13-7.
After fumbling away its kickoff return to open the second half, the Buckskins made good on their next possession with a 15-play, 86-yard drive finished off by Stoltzfus' 22-yard TD pass to senior speedster Eddie Hernandez to even the score at 13-13 in the third quarter.
A Buckskins penalty on the ensuing kickoff set up Penn Manor's offense around midfield, and nine plays later the Comets went back up for good on a 11-yard TD throw from Braas to junior wideout Isaac Hostetter with 10:34 remaining.
“We lost it on the special teams tonight and that was the difference of the game,” veteran CV coach Gerad Novak said.
CV’s final drive stalled around midfield with 1:59 left.
“We still have a long season ahead,” Brubaker said. “Next week we have L-S, which is a fantastic team. So that’ll be a big challenge again. But these guys have some fight in them and love playing the game. It makes it fun to coach.”
Penn Manor (1-0) travels to Lampeter-Strasburg (1-0) next Friday, while CV (0-1) returns home to host New Oxford (1-0).