JOHNSTOWN - Penn Cambria got big plays on offense and defense in the first quarter, but could not capitalize on them.
The Panthers hit a 69-yard pass on the first play of the game, but came away with no points. They intercepted a Matt Shaffer pass in the end zone to end Richland's first drive, but had to punt after the turnover.
Richland, however, was able to capitalize on a big play of its own. The defense intercepted a Chad Tsikalas pass early in the second quarter.
The Rams used this play to take control of the momentum and the game. Richland quickly put up 24 points in the second quarter after the interception. Defensively, the Rams held the Panthers to only one first down the rest of the game in route to a 44-0 victory.
"We couldn't capitalize," Penn Cambria coach Justin Grassi said. "We wanted to take the ball to try to get something going offensively and keep them off the field. We came out and ran a play we worked on. We got a big play out of it and got down around the one and we went backwards a couple of plays after that. We had to settle for a field goal attempt. We had a good stop in the end zone with the interception. We just couldn't capitalize."
Tsikalas found Jake Hurley running open down the middle of the field on the first play from scrimmage. Hurley's catch-and-run moved the ball to the Rams 3-yard line.
However, Penn Cambria could not take advantage. Tyler Strasser was tackled for a loss of two yards on the next play.
A sack of Tsikalas and a short screen pass forced a fourth down. Colin Shable's 30 yard field sailed wide, turned the ball over to the Rams.
Richland responded by moving the ball from its own 20 yard line to the Panthers' 11 in 11 plays. The Rams looked like they were poised to take the lead, but Hurley intercepted a Shaffer pass in the end zone to end the drive.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, the big defensive play did not give Penn Cambria any momentum. They were forced to punt three plays later.
Penn Cambria's defense came up with another big play on the Rams next possession. The Panthers held Richland on downs deep in its territory to end another drive.
While big plays kept the Panthers in the game, a big play also turned the momentum in Richland's favor. Two plays after holding Richland on downs, Tsikalas had a pass intercepted when Nico Pecora undercut a route from his safety position.
Richland did what Penn Cambria could not do, capitalize on the big play. Two plays after the interception, Tanner Solarczyk rambled through the Panthers defense for a 53-yard run that set up the Rams at the 1-yard line.
Elijah Metzgar powered the ball into the end zone on the next play to give Richland a 7-0 lead.
"Great teams do that," Grassi said. "They make you pay whenever you turn the ball over, and that's what they did. We tried to force some things there to get something going and it didn't work and they took it away. They punched it in when they needed to."
The turnover and touchdown sparked the Rams. They scored on their next three possessions, including a 38-yard field goal on the final play of the first half, to take a 24-0 lead at halftime.
While Richland was firing on all cylinders, Penn Cambria struggled to end the half. Its last three possessions ended with a punt, an interception and a fake punt that came up short on fourth down.
All three of these failed possessions allowed the Rams to score 17 points in the final 3:46 of the half.
Richland made sure that Penn Cambria had no thoughts of a comeback in the second half.
The Rams scored on their first two possessions in the third quarter to push the lead to 37-0. They added a fourth-quarter score to set the final at 44-0.
"They played hard," Richland coach Brandon Bailey said. "You have to give their kids and their coaching staff a lot of credit for coming out with a good game plan and playing with a lot of intensity. Our kids were able to just keep plugging away. With all of the talent we have, eventually that is going to catch up. We are able to spread the ball around. A bunch of different guys scored tonight, so that was a good thing."
Penn Cambria0 0 0 0 - 0
Richland 0 24 13 7 - 44
R-Metzgar 1 run (Gindlesberger kick), 8:01.
R-Naglic 18 run (Gindlesberger kick), 3:46.
R-Naglic 11 pass from Shaffer (Gindlesperger kick), 2:07.
R-Gindlesberger 38 FG,:00.
R-Bergman 5 pass from Shaffer (kick failed), 8:44.
R-Farina 3 run (Gindlesberger kick), 2:03.
R-Urban 41 run (Fordham kick), 9:01.
RUSHING: Penn Cambria-Strasser 11-16, Mardula 3-4, Eckenrode 1-2, Roberts 3-1, Tsikalas 4-(-18) . Richland-Solarczyk 15-160 , Shaffer 7-53, Urban 2-42, Naglic 2-28, Farina 2-11, Kutchman 2-6, Li 1-6, Wanko 1-2, Verhovsek 1-0.
PASSING: Penn Cambria-Tsikalas 10-16-2-110, Kost 0-2-0-0, Mardula 0-1-0-0. Richland-Shaffer 16-25-1-192, Kutchman 2-2-0-1.
RECEIVING: Penn Cambria-Hurley 3-87, Mardula 3-25, George 1-6, Strasser 1-(-6). Richland-Flick 4-47, Pecora 2-41, Rizzo 3-38, Bergman 2-23, Naglic 2-20, Lynch 1-15, Solarczyk 1-9, Warshel 2-6, Ludwig 1-(-6).
INTERCEPTIONS: Penn Cambria-Hurley. Richland-Pecora, Flick.
First downs 4 22
Rushes-yards 22-5 33-308
Pass (comp.-att.-int.) 10-18-218-27-1Yards passing110 193
Total yards115 501
Fumbles-lost 1-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 3-45 7-55
Punts-avg. 4-34.5 0-0