JOHNSTOWN - Cambria Heights head coach Jarrod Lewis knew that his team was going to have a battle against the offense of Richland. Friday night, the Highlanders got to see that the defense of the Rams is just as impressive.
Richland's offense scored the first six times it touched the ball, but the defense caused two fumbles, and returned an interception for a touchdown en route to a 48-7 victory.
"They are just so good," Lewis said. "They have so many skill athletes. It's like - pick your poison. They have the running back, who is great, and the quarterback, who is great, they have about six receivers who are great, and their line played good. Their defense is the one who gets overlooked all the time. They have a very good defense. They are almost a bend but don't break defense."
Richland grabbed a 21-0 lead in the first quarter. Rams quarterback Matt Shaffer connected on touchdown strikes of 38, 37, and 10 yards in the first eight minutes.
Cambria Heights went three and out on its first two possessions. The Highlanders got a first down on their third possession, but Josh Fees fumbled on the next play, giving the ball back to the Rams. Four plays later, Richland running back Tanner Solarczyk scored on a 3-yard run to push the lead to 28-0.
The Highlanders finally got going on offense on their ensuing possession. They pounded the middle of the line with Dennis Link, Fees and Joe Davis to move the ball from their 26 to the Richland 32.
On a key fourth down play, quarterback Richard Legros ran around the right side to convert a first down. Legros then hit Shawn Lacue for a 25-yard scoring strike on the next play to cut the lead to 28-7.
Unfortunately for the Highlanders, Richland had an answer for the Lacue touchdown reception.
On the next possession, Shaffer completed passes of 46 and 17 yards. The 17-yarder was a touchdown pass to Colby Warshel that pushed the lead to 34-7.
The Highlanders put together an impressive drive on their next possession. They moved the ball deep into Rams territory as the first half clock ticked down.
However, on fourth down Jarrod Hoover intercepted a Legros pass and returned it 63 yards in the final seconds of the half to give Richland a 41-7 lead at the break.
"That's something we need to get better at," Lewis said of finishing off drives. "Sometimes with finishing, you lose your mental edge a little bit. We have to take care of those little things. We had some short-yardage situations where we didn't take care of the ball or we had some missed assignments. You can't do that against a team like this. They are just too good. Every time you make a mistake against them, they capitalize."
Cambria Heights hosts Westmont Hilltop next week.
Cambria Heights0 7 0 0 - 7
Richland21 20 7 0 - 48
R - Flick 38 pass from Shaffer (Gindlesperger kick), 10:18.
R -Naglic 37 pass from Shaffer (Gindlesperger kick), 7:14.
R - Pecora 10 pass from Shaffer (Gindlesperger kick), 2:45.
R - Solarczyk 3 run (Gindlesperger kick), 11:55.
CH - Lacue 25 pass from Legros (Galinis kick), 5:25.
R - Warshel 17 pass from Shaffer (kick failed), 4:48
R - Hoover 51 interception return (Gindlesperger kick),:15.7.
R - Shaffer 73 run (Gindlesperger kick), 6:19.
RUSHING: Cambria Heights-D. Link 22-97, Fees 10-60, Davis 5-33, Baker 3-21, Gill 4-9, Legros 3-7, E. Link 1-(-1), team 1-(-1). Richland-Solarczyk 10-81, Shaffer 1-73, Naglic 1-48, Metzgar 1-8, Somiari 2-5, Kutchman 1-5, Farina 1-1.
PASSING: Cambria Heights-Legros 4-8-1-46. Richland-Shaffer 10-14-0-198, Kutchman 1-1-0-12.
RECEIVING: Cambria Heights-Lacue 1-25, Naglic 1-14, D. Link 2-7. Richland-Flick 3-109, Naglilc 1-37, Warshel 2-29, Hanley 1-14, Pecora 1-10, Lynch 1-8, Joy 1-5, Solarczyk 1-(-2).
INTERCEPTIONS: Cambria Heights-none. Richland-Hoover
TEAM STATISTICS CHR
First downs 1516
Total yards 271431