PORT ALLEGANY - Early it looked it was going to be Port Allegany's night.

The Gators opened up the season with their first ever night game and used that momentum to take a 14-0 lead on Athens early.

But the young Wildcats persevered and it paid off as they scored 30 unanswered points to beat Port Allegany 30-14 in football action Friday night.

The Wildcats lost 16 players to graduation and have only 17 upperclassmen.

"When you lose them, you can't replace them," Young said. "You just gotta kind of find your own identity, and I think these guys did that tonight. ... I think we did a really good job of taking care of the little things, and that's when good things happen."

This was also Young's 100th career win as head coach of Athens. The Wildcats are now also one win away from 500 for their program.

Early on Port Allegany running back Tyler Shaffer was key to the Gator ground attack.

Shaffer scored on runs of 84 and 77 yards on Port Allegany's opening two drives, the first touchdown on a fake punt. The senior speedster took a helmet to his hip soon after and was sidelined for most of the remainder of the game. Shaffer, one of the Gators' two returning starters, had only one carry in the second half and finished with 165 yards rushing on five attempts.

"I said from the very beginning, injuries are gonna kill us," said Port coach Mike Bodamer, who has 28 players on his varsity roster, compared with Athen's 51. "(Shaffer) goes out and our offense is gonna stall big time. We don't have the threat of the run, so everyone tees off on the pass.

"It's a worst nightmare come true," he added. "We have a lot of kids banged up, so I don't know what's gonna happen." Port Allegany punted on all five of its possessions in the second half.

Athens (1-0) rolled behind a strong rushing attack. Brandon Sturzenegger had 105 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Senior quarterback Troy Stivason completed 9-of-14 passes for 108 yards and a TD, while Cody Cain caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Forbes on a halfback pass.

"That's a resilient bunch and they just kept fighting," Young said of his squad. "Our goal all the time is to run the ball, and we did that once we finally secured the football and took care of things. ... I think our defense made some adjustments, and, they got the job done."

Said Bodamer of Athens, "They were big and physical up front. The kids got pushed around a little bit. ... We just completely ran out of gas in the fourth quarter. That's what happens, you give up a couple late ones and it makes it look a lot worse than what it was." Port Allegany sophomore quarterback Jordan Seefeldt, replacing graduated state record-holder Matt Bodamer, completed 14-of-31 passes for 161 yards.