Panthers pull off thrilling comeback over rival
EBENSBURG — Down by three scores in the first half against Central Cambria Friday night, the Penn Cambria football team didn’t panic.
Gaining some life with a score just before the half and forcing a pair of turnovers late in the game, the Panthers scored on a two-point conversion with just 42 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to earn a thrilling 29-28 victory over the Red Devils.
“That game is what our program is about,” said Penn Cambria coach Nick Felus. “It’s about adversity, being tough, being down. We have heart, and I’m so proud of this group.”
Player of the game: Penn Cambria quarterback Garrett Harrold, who went 15-of-29 for 208 yards passing and rushed for 65 more. He had two rushing touchdowns and led his team on a 63-yard game-winning drive to close out the game.
Unsung heroes: Penn Cambria senior safety Brandon Storm, who recorded three tackles for loss and blocked a field goal attempt. Central Cambria running back Hobbs Dill, who scored the first two touchdowns of the game and had 146 rushing yards on 22 carries.
Play of the game: With Central Cambria leading by one touchdown and lined up for a 37-yard field goal attempt, Storm burst through the line and blocked the kick, setting up the stage for the game-winning drive.
Go-ahead score: Following a 1-yard rushing touchdown by Braden Phister with 42 seconds left in the game and the Red Devils up 28-27, Penn Cambria lined up for the two-point conversion to potentially take the lead. While the play originally called for a toss to Nick Marinak deep in the end zone, Harrold found Jake Tsikalas underneath to secure the two-point conversion and claim the lead.
Most vital statistic: Penn Cambria converted on fourth down three times on the game-winning drive.
Central Cambria coach Shane McGregor: “I give (Penn Cambria) credit. They made some palys. I thought (Harrold) was phenomenal just extending plays and making the throws when he needed to. Momentum is a cruel mistress, and when they put it together in the second half, it really changed the game.”
Harrold: “We wanted to spread the defense open a little bit and create some running lanes. We were able to just spread the field and make some plays. We knew we needed to do something, and we executed.”
Storm: “We knew we had it in ourselves. We were down, but we all believed in each other. That was probably the most exciting game I’ve been involved in. It’s just incredible.”
Tsikalas: “This is a big rivalry. You always circle this on the calendar, and you always know what you’re in for. It’s a special game, and there’s always this mutual respect and competitiveness between the two of us.”
Records: Penn Cambria (3-1); Central Cambria (3-1).
Next week: Penn Cambria travels to Richland; Central Cambria travels to Bishop McCort.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Penn Cambria 0 7 7 15–29
Central Cambria 7 14 7 0–28
CC–Dill 1 run (Adam McGlynn kick), 4:43
CC–Dull 13 run (McGlynn kick), 10:32
CC–Keiper 21 run (McGlynn kick), 2:36
PC–Harrold 5 run (Logan Michina kick), :17
PC–Marinak 5 catch from Harrold (Michina kick), 7:10
CC–Dill 3 run (McGlynn kick), :38
PC–Harrold 11 run (Michina kick), 8:59
PC–Phister 1 run (Tsikalas pass from Harrold), :42
TEAM STATISTICS PC CC
First downs 19 17
Total net yards 381 337
Rushes-yards 35-173 35-250
Passing yards 208 87
Comp-Att-Int 15-29-0 7-8-0
Punts-avg. 2-45.5 0-0
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-1
Penalties-yards 9-65 4-38
RUSHING – Penn Cambria, Harrold 13-65, Phister 9-49, Marinak 7-45, Smith 6-14. Central Cambria, Dill 22-146, Keiper 8-103, Little 3-14, Nolan Wyrwas 1-0.
PASSING – Penn Cambria, 15-29-0-208. Central Cambria, Little 7-8-0-87.
RECEIVING – Penn Cambria, Tsikalas 7-86, Marinak 3-47, Eberhart 2-23, Storm 1-18, Phister 2-12, Broad 2-12. Central Cambria, Nate Wyrwas 3-57, Ethan Gillin 3-25, Dill 1-12.