CRESSON - It doesn't take long to understand why Richland has been unbeaten in eight games this season.
The Rams feature a multi-talented, multi-dimensional offensive attack that, entering Friday night's Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference non-section matchup with Penn Cambria, had averaged over 40 points and 467 total yards of offense per game.
Richland settled for 30 points and 416 total yards while breaking away in the second half for a 30-12 victory on the Penn Cambria High School Athletic Field.
The Rams feature a high-octane, diversified spread offensive arsenal that might be the envy of many small-college football programs. Senior quarterback Matt Shaffer showcased his skills Friday, completing 15 of 26 passes for 165 yards and running for three touchdowns. Senior halfback Tanner Solarczyk rushed for 126 yards on 24 carries and another score.
Richland broke out of a 12-12 halftime deadlock by dominating the second half, as eight different players caught at least one pass for the Rams. Junior wideout Kyle Flick led the way with five catches for 52 yards.
"We've got a lot of good kids, and we try to spread it around on offense,'' said Richland coach Brandon Bailey, whose team is 8-0 overall. "Tonight, we were balanced running and throwing the ball.''
Richland compiled 242 yards of rushing offense, and added another 174 yards through the air.
"They're very good,'' Penn Cambria coach Ernie Fetzer said of the Rams. "Brandon is extremely innovative with his offense, and it's very difficult to contain them. In the first half, we were able to stay in the game offensively. In the second half, we weren't able to do that. Give credit to Richland. They're a heck of a football team.''
Penn Cambria (4-4 overall) dropped its fourth straight game after opening the season 4-0.
The Panthers went toe-to-toe with Richland in the first half, but the Rams' offense wore PC down in the second half.
Bullish senior fullback Devin Lawhead spearheaded Penn Cambria to two first-quarter touchdowns. Lawhead capped the Panthers' 53-yard, opening-possession drive with a 4-yard scoring burst off right tackle. The key play in the drive was a 27-yard pass from senior quarterback Brendan Eckenrode to Lawhead that gave PC a first down at Richland's 16.
Lawhead showed off his throwing arm later in the first quarter, hitting sophomore halfback Jake Hurley with a 54-yard scoring pass down the middle that gave Penn Cambria a temporary 12-6 lead.
Richland countered with Shaffer's 4-yard scoring run and Solarczyk's 2-yard touchdown burst in the first quarter, then the Rams took control with a 63-yard, nine-play scoring drive to open the second half.
Shaffer scampered around left end 29 yards for the touchdown that gave Richland the lead for good, 18-12 with 9:10 left in the third quarter. Richland added a 2-point conversion run when Luke Shertzer took a pitch from Nico Pecora and raced into the end zone to put the Rams ahead, 20-12.
"That first drive set the tone,'' Bailey said. "And to be able to get the extra two points there was big.''
Shaffer's 6-yard scoring run with nine seconds left in the third quarter polished off an 85-yard, 11-play scoring drive and put Richland comfortably ahead, 27-12.
Senior kicker Bobby Colvin's 25-yard field goal with 6:44 left in the fourth quarter set the final score.
"Our guys played hard tonight, but they just came up a little short,'' Fetzer said. "Richland might be the best team we've played all year. We're going to try to stay focused and keep playing hard, and hopefully, something will turn for us.''
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Richland12 0 15 3 - 30
Penn Cambria12 0 0 0 - 12
PC-Lawhead 4 run (pass failed), 9:03.
R-Shaffer 4 run (kick failed), 5:51.
PC-Hurley 54 pass from Lawhead (run failed), 4:39.
R-Solarczyk 2 run (kick failed), 0:54.
R-Shaffer 29 run (Shertzer run), 9:10.
R-Shaffer 6 run (Colvin kick), 0:09.
R-Colvin 25 FG, 6:44.
RUSHING: Richland-Solarczyk 24-126, Shaffer 15-93, Snopko 2-18, Hoover 1-5, Farina 1-0. Penn Cambria-Behe 10-44, Przybys 9-41, Lawhead 10-31, Delerme 3-22, Fuller 3-12, Eckenrode 3-(-9).
PASSING: Richland-Shaffer 15-26-1-165, Pecora 1-3-0-9. Penn Cambria-Lawhead 1-1-0-54, Eckenrode 1-6-0-27.
RECEIVING: Richland-Flick 5-52, Metzgar 3-38, Shertzer 2-25, Farina 2-23, Solarczyk 1-12, Bergman 1-9, Pecora 1-8, Naglic 1-7. Penn Cambria-Hurley 1-54, Lawhead 1-27.
INTERCEPTIONS: Penn Cambria-Schwaderer.