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Big plays help State College ground Cumberland Valley

Written by: on Thursday, December 17th, 2009

ALTOONA, Pa. – State College head coach Al Wolski reclined on the Mansion Park Stadium turf with a football in his right hand. His State College Little Lion football team crowded behind him.

Moments earlier, State College finished striking big play after big play after big, big play in winning District 6’s first ever “AAAA” state semi-final.

State College Area (12-2) creamed Cumberland Valley (12-3) 35-13 from Altoona’s Mansion Park Stadium, limiting the Eagles to just 113 rushing yards and racking up 400 yards of offense.

With the victory, State High will take on LaSalle College, a 35-7 victor over District 1 champion Ridley in the “AAAA” Eastern Final. Kickoff from Hershey is slated for 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19.

“Give all the credit to State College. They did a heck of a job,” said Cumberland Valley head coach Tim Rimpfel. “They hammered us.”

Wolski couldn’t believe the victory. It’s the second straight week State College won a landmark football game. Last weekend, State High won its first PIAA playoff game against the WPIAL. This week, the Little Lions won District 6’s first “AAA” or “AAAA” state semi-final.

“It’s unbelievable,” Wolski said. “I’m going to go back an pinch myself when we get home tonight.”

The Lions came out firing right from the onset. Shane Dorner returned the opening kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown, and State High led, 6-0, just 13 seconds into the game.

Cumberland Valley countered on its next possession, but it was one of the few counters the Eagles had this day. Travis Friend (9 rush, 37 yards) plowed in from 3 yards out, and CV took its only lead of the game, 7-6, with 8:42 left in the first quarter.

State College scored the next 14 points to take a 20-7 lead into the locker room. Dom Mills hit Alex Kenney on a 95-yard streak pattern down the home sideline to push State High’s lead to 12-7, and then Colby Way scored on a 3 yard run with less than two minutes left in the half.

Kenney’s touchdown reception saw him get behind CV’s best cover corner, Trevor Harman, who came into the game with 12 interceptions.

“It was a beautiful pass by Mills,” Kenney offered. He finished with two catches for 132 yards and added 49 yards on nine carries.

“Throwing that pass was something we worked on,” Wolski said. “And, (in that situation), an interception would have been just as good as a punt.”

The Lions took all the wind out of Cumberland Valley’s sails two thirds of the way through the third quarter. State had battered its way from its own 20 yard line to the CV 10. Faced with a 27-yard field goal attempt for Kevin Disanto, holder Matt Mazzarra executed a beautiful fake and hit Way on a 10-yard scoring pass.

Instead of a 23-7 lead if the field goal had been converted, State High now led 26-7, and a successful two-point pass to Way pushed that lead to 28-7.

“The big plays are what got us in a hole, and we just couldn’t fight out of it,” Rimpfel said. “That was a big play there. We told them, ‘Watch the fake. Watch the tight end…’”

Wolski said he thought that play took a lot of the wind out of Cumberland Valley’s sails.

“They were still in the ball game and playing tough,” he said. “Then, all of a sudden, instead of us going for three, we’ve got 6.”

SC wrapped up its scoring binge with a Byron Schmidt 73-yard touchdown run just over two minutes later. Schmidt finished the game with 71 yards rushing on just three carries.

Cumberland Valley’s Kevin Snyder capped the game scoring with a 3-yard run with 10:47 left in the game.

Cumberland Valley, as a team, was limited to just 113 rushing yards on 31 carries. Snyder finished with 9 carries for 52 yards. Sawyer went 9-of-22 for 162 yards, but only completed two passes in the second half. He had started 7-of-10 in the first half. CV had 275 yards of offense and 13 first downs.

State High ran for 225 yards on 37 carries, nearly doubling CV’s ground output. Mills went a perfect 6-for-6 passing for 166 yards and the touchdown to Kenney. State High’s only pass incompletion came on a WR-option pass from Kenney. Way added 42 yards on eight carries and had two receptions for 21 yards.

Impressively, State College ran for 194 yards in the second half – 145 in the third quarter alone. CV had limited State College to just 31 yards on 16 carries in the first half.

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