Cambria Heights sets up date with Ligonier
THREE SPRINGS — It was a long trip through the mountains for the Cambria Heights football team to get to its District 6 Class 2A quarterfinal round playoff game at Southern Huntingdon on Saturday night.
It was all downhill sledding for the Highlanders once they got there, though.
Five different Heights players scored touchdowns in the first half, the Highlander defense only gave up one first down over the first two quarters, and the fifth seed won for the fifth week in a row, blitzing the fourth-seeded host Rockets, 48-7, in Pogue.
Now 8-3, Cambria Heights will travel to Ligonier Valley on Friday to face the undefeated Rams, the defending D6-2A champs. It was the fifth straight win for the Highlanders, who have prevailed in those contest by 21, 28, 35, 29 and now 41.
“It’s a great feeling. We are the second team (in program history) to make it past the first round of playoffs,” said Lucas Fox, who rushed for a team-high 88 yards and caught a 45-yard pass to set up the first touchown. “We really came together. We stepped up as a team, and we’re just staying together through it all.”
Four Heights’ rushers ran for at least 38 yards and logged at least seven carries, which set up Brandon Bearer to go 4-of-5 on play-action passes for 149 yards and a score. Heights amassed 242 yards on the ground and 491 total.
“It feels really great, honestly (to see that as a lineman). We’ve been putting in so much work at practice, honestly,” 300-pound senior tackle Cody Bogus said. “The backs and the quarterbacks have been playing great games. Everything’s just coming together.”
It rained steadily throughout the contest, and Heights’ performance was irresistible as a tidal wave, washing Southern Huntingdon out of the way at every turn.
“It’s a good thing when you’re playing your best ball at the end of the season. And we are,” Highlanders coach Jarrod Lewis said. “I think the sky’s the limit for us. We’re a team. Everybody is very unselfish, and they want to see everyone do well. They’re just as excited to see somebody else score a touchdown as when they score a touchdown.”
And they had a lot of excitement to spread around, especially in the first 24 minutes.
Heights put it into the end zone on all five of its first-half possessions, rolling up 331 yards. Tyler Trybus opened the scoring on an 11-yard scamper to cap a seven-play, 73-yard drive highlighted by Bearer’s 45-yard pass to Fox. The Highlanders went 69 yard solely on the ground the next time they had possession, with Alex Hite covering the final 2 to make it 14-0 after one quarter; Hite added another TD in the fourth quarter.
Cody Stockley rushed for 25 yards — including the last 8 — and Bearer hit Damon Maul for 20 yards to make it a three-touchdown margin early in the third. That was followed by Ben Williams juggling a Bearer swing pass and drawing it in before running down the visiting sideline and cutting in for a 46-yard scoring play.
“I trusted my QB, and, when he threw it to me, I was like, ‘Oh, that’s a beautiful ball. Just don’t screw up,'” Williams said. “It was perfect over the shoulder and, when I went to catch it, it came out. I bobbled it a couple of times. I had to make it look good. I was running down the sideline, I wasn’t even thinking where I was going. I was just like ‘Wow.'”
Bearer brought the mercy-rule into effect, sneaking in from the 1 with 1:39 left in the first half.
The Rockets only managed 41 yards in the first half, and Trybus scored a defensive touchdown in the fourth quarter when he snagged an attempted screen pass and rambled 43 yards to the end zone. The Highlanders have held four opponents to 12 points or less during their winning streak and allowed 53 points total in that span. They surrendered just 15 points at Forest Hills in the loss that preceded the streak.
“We were keying up on their quarterback (Eric Patton). We shut him down. We shut the whole offense down. Everybody up front did a great job. It was just an amazing job,” defensive end Brennan Haluska said. “We’ve been playing light’s out defense.”
Southern Huntingdon managed to get on the board with 2:52 to play on Bryce Snyder’s 8-yard run against the Heights reserve defense. The Rockets finished the year 8-3, losing only to Heights, Bellwood-Antis and Mount Union.
“We knew they were big and strong up front, but we maybe didn’t expect it to be quite that bad. Oh my (gosh), they mauled us. What a team,” Southern coach Ryan Garlock said. “We got beat by a bigger, faster, stronger team.”
With McCort advancing by beating Mount Union on Saturday, the Laurel Highlands Conference has three of the final four in D6-2A. Heights will get a chance to make it an all-LHAC final if it can upend Ligonier, the team that eliminated the Highlanders in the first round last season.
“We’re high up,” Fox said, “but we’ve got to come back down, come back and ready to work on Monday.”
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Cambria Heights 14 21 0 13 — 48
Southern Huntingdon 0 0 0 7 — 7
CH–Trybus 11 run (Bobak kick), 9:05.
CH–Hite 3 run (Bobak kick), 1:36.
CH–Stockley 8 run (Bobak kick), 9:43.
CH–Williams 46 pass from B. Bearer (Bobak kick), 7:03.
CH–B. Bearer 1 run (Bobak kick), 1:39
CH–Hite 5 run (Bobak kick), 10:48.
CH–Trybus 43 interception return (kick failed), 6:33.
SH–Snyder 8 run (Myers kicks), 2:52.
RUSHING: Cambria Heights–Fox 13-88, Stockley 7-53, Trybus 7-38, Hite 7-53, B. Bearer 5-14, TEAM 3-(-4). Southern Huntingdon–Snyder 10-51, Patton 15-54, Bailey 1-(-7), Garlock 1-(-3), TEAM 2-(-17).
PASSING: Cambria Heights–B. Bearer 4-5-0-149. Southern Huntingdon–Patton 3-7-0-31, Garlock 5-6-1-57, Snyder 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING: Cambria Heights–Williams 1-46, Fox 1-45, Maul 1-20, Brawley 1-38. Southern Huntingdon–Snyder 5-22, Booher 2-52, Patton 1-14.
INTERCEPTIONS: Cambria Heights–Trybus. Southern Huntingdon–none.
TEAM STATISTICS CH SH
First downs 17 9
Rushes-yards 42-242 29-78
Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 4-5-0 8-14-1
Yards passing 149 88
Total yards 391 166
Fumbles-lost 2-1 5-2
Penalties-yards 5-67 2-25
Punts-avg. 1-28.0 4-31.0