EBENSBURG - Central Cambria gave unbeaten Richland all they could handle through most of the second quarter Friday night, but the Rams answered the challenge and broke a close game wide open on the way to a 42-14 win that clinched its second consecutive Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference championship.
Richland (9-0) drove 66 yards in the final minute of the first half and went up 28-14 on a 29-yard touchdown strike from Matt Shaffer to Kyle Flick with just 18 seconds left before the break.
The Rams' Dominic Farina subsequently took the second-half kickoff and raced 79 yards for a score to put Richland firmly in control with a three-touchdown lead.
"We battled in the first half," said Central Cambria coach Bill Corrente, whose squad slipped to 5-4 and faces a must-win game against Bishop McCort next Friday to earn a playoff berth.
"We moved the ball well and hit some throws, but that's a very good football team over there and they just took over."
Richland took an early 15-0 lead, scoring on its first two possessions. Shaffer hit Flick for a 31-yard score, and Tanner Solarczyk added a 2-yard touchdown run late in the opening quarter.
The Red Devils got back in the game on a 16-play, 80-yard drive capped off by Will Seymour's 13-yard touchdown pass to Matthew Leary at the 5:20 mark of the second.
A 57-yard Shaffer to Flick bomb set up a 3-yard Shaffer touchdown run that made it 21-7, but Seymour again guided the Devils on a long drive to keep things close.
Seymour, who finished 9-of-17 for 173 yards, hit Timmy Davis for a 47-yard gain, and two plays later the same combo connected for a 14-yard touchdown. Colby Crimmins's PAT closed the gap to 21-14 with just one minute to play.
However, Shaffer, who completed 12 of 16 for 274 yards, then took the Rams in for the key score that swung the momentum in Richland's favor.
"Our kids are used to playing fast," said Richland coach Brandon Bailey. "That one minute drill is something we were able to execute."
Richland added one more third quarter touchdown following Farina's big kickoff return when the Rams recovered a fumble at the Devil 5. Three plays later Shaffer ran in from 3 yards out to set the eventual 42-14 final.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Richland15 13 14 0 - 42
Central Cambria0 14 0 0 - 14
R - Kyle Flick 31 pass from Matt Shaffer (Linnie Joy pass from Flick) 8:54
R -Tanner Solarczyk 2 run (Shawn Gindlesberger kick) 1:56
CC - Matthew Leary 13 pass from Will Seymour (Colby Crimmins kick) 5:20
R - Shaffer 3 run (pass failed) 3:42
CC-Timmy Davis 14 pass from Seymour (Crimmins kick) 1:00
R-Flick 29 pass from Shaffer (Gindlesberger kick) 0:18
R - Dominic Farina 79 kickoff return (Gindlesberger kick) 11:46
R - Shaffer 3 run (Gindlesberger kick) 7:02
Rushing: Richland - Solarczyk 8-41, Shaffer 6-10, Farina 3-57, Urban 1-3, Somiari 1-3, TEAM 1-minus 2, Kutchman 2-9, Warshel 2-16, Verhovsek 1-1, Li 1-minus 2, Rubal 2-20, Morgan 1-minus 1, Wanko 1-4. Central Cambria - Seymour 17-35, McBreen 3-5, Kirsch 8-38, Bauer 2-11, Ambrisco 2-3, Young 1-4, Adams 3-10, TEAM 2-(-6).
Passing: Richland -Shaffer 12-16-0-274, Kutchman 0-4-1-0, Rubal 1-1-0-(-3). Central Cambria -Seymour 9-17-0-173
Receiving: R- Flick 4-136. Pecora 2-35, Metzgar 2-75, Solarczyk 1-1, Ball 1-11, Rizzo 1-7, Bergman 1-9, Thomas 1-minus 3
Interceptions: Central Cambria - Gilkey 1-15.
TEAM STATISTICSR CC