Tigers reach end of road
HERSHEY — Hollidaysburg knew it had a tough challenge ahead of it Friday in defending Class 5A state champion Archbishop Wood.
A few moments after the opening kickoff, it became evident there wasn’t much the Golden Tigers could do about it.
The Vikings took the kickoff 50 yards to the Hollidaysburg 40, and one play later, Tom Santiago took a handoff 40 yards for a score. The Golden Tigers never really recovered in a 38-7 loss at Henry Hershey Field in Friday’s PIAA 5A quarterfinal playoff game.
“They had a lot of speed off the line,” Hollidaysburg’s Jake Sensenig said. “We knew it was coming, but we couldn’t react to it fast enough.”
Santiago rushed for 114 yards on just eight carries and found the end zone twice. Archbishop Wood ran for 271 yards as a team on 33 carries, but many of the runs that didn’t go for many yards came from backups who entered the game in the third quarter during a running clock.
“We had some big runs early,” Archbishop Wood coach Kyle Adkins said. “That’s huge and gives confidence for our offense. I thought our defense and special teams did a tremendous job of winning the field-position battle, and that was key.”
One the other side, Hollidaysburg couldn’t get anything going. The Golden Tigers offense has been clicking throughout the entire playoffs but managed just one first down and 8 total yards in the first half.
“I felt our defense played pretty well,” Adkins said. “We ran to the ball, tackled well and didn’t have any communication issues. So, if you do those three things, you’re usually in good shape.”
Trailing 14-0 in the second quarter, Hollidaysburg got a sack from Sam Haines and forced the Vikings to punt for the first time. Unfortunately for the Golden Tigers, that punt was downed at their own 1-yard line.
Brady Walters fumbled on a quarterback sneak on the next play. To Hollidaysburg’s credit, they held Archbishop Wood to a 25-yard field goal, but with that kick the Vikings took a three-score lead.
“Our special teams really struggled,” Hollidaysburg coach Homer DeLattre said. “We had a holding penalty, and we just didn’t execute. Then they pinned us down at the 1-yard line on a punt. We turned the ball over after that, and those plays really swung the first half.”
Archbishop Wood also got touchdown runs from Cardel Pigford and Leroy Pendleton before quarterback Jack Colyar connected with Jake Ross on a 51-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter that made it 38-0. That kicked the running clock into play and led to many Archbishop Wood starters exiting the game.
“The first couple plays, the speed of the game was a factor,” DeLattre said. “To be able to match that in practice is difficult.”
Hollidaysburg, making its second appearance in the final eight in the state in as many years, got a touchdown from senior Nate Fisher early in the fourth quarter, and Sensenig picked off a pass from Vikings backup Max Keller to stall an Archbishop Wood drive.
“Championship teams are made December through August,” DeLattre said. “We have to do a good job at getting back into the weight room next week and start toward 2019.”
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Archbishop Wood 14 17 7 0 — 38
Hollidaysburg 0 0 0 7 — 7
AW–Santiago 40 run (Hennessey kick), 11:39.
AW–Pigford 3 run (Hennessey kick), 3:59.
AW–Hennessey 25 FG, 8:37.
AW–Santiago 3 run (Hennessey kick), 6:21.
AW–Pendleton 6 run (Hennessey kick), 1:17
AW–Ross 51 pass from Colyer (Hennessey kick), 9:16.
H–Fisher 1 run (Pinter kick), 10:22.
TEAM STATISTICS AW H
First downs 13 6
Total yards 345 147
Rushes-yards 33-271 31-139
Passing (com.-att.-int) 4-8-1 3-11-2
Passing yards 74 8
Punts-avg. 2-34.5 4-36
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-1
Penalties-yards 9-70 6-45
RUSHING–Archbishop Wood, Santiago 8-114, Blackstone 7-85, Pigford 3-22, Keller 2-20, D’Ambra 4-14, Costello 5-6, Pendleton 1-6, Colyer 3-4. Hollidaysburg, Walters 11-82, Fisher 15-55, Barr 3-1, Wyant 2-1.
PASSING–Archbishop Wood, 4-7-0-74, Keller 0-1-1-0. Hollidaysburg, Walters 2-10-2-0, Grassi 1-1-0-8.
RECEIVING–Archbishop Wood, Ross 1-51, Defeo 1-14, Pigford 1-9, Santiago 1-0. Hollidaysburg, Moss 1-8, Barr 1-1, Weakland 1-(-1).