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Steelton-Highspire advances to PIAA Class 1A State Semi-Final with 42 to 35 Thriller Ending over Northern Lehigh !

Tagged under: District 11, District 2, Game Photos, News, Playoffs

| November 27, 2022


Steelton-Highspire advances to PIAA Class 1A State Semi-Final with 42 to 35 Thriller Ending over Northern Lehigh !

There was just :27 seconds left on the clock when Northern Lehigh’s Austin Smyth scored on a pass from Nick Frame for 8 yards into the endzone to tie the game at 35. What happened next was just amazing ! Alex Erby and crew drove 59 yards on just 5 plays, ending the drive with a pass to the back corner of the endzone caught by Jaieon Perry with just :04 seconds to play in the game, now leading 42 to 35. What led up to that point…. let’s take a look back !

In the first quarter, the Rollers would start off with a decent kickoff return to the 45 and we were off to the races. Steelton would run off 9 plays, down to the Bulldogs 10 before turning it over on downs on the next play. Northern Lehigh would show off their size and strength on their first possession, going 90 yards on 10 plays, all runs except one, the one that scored, a pass from Nick Frame to Austin Smyth for 31 yards to put the Bulldogs out front first 6 to 0 following a fail extra point. Rollers would respond on their next drive when leading rusher for the game, Ronald Bernette Jr. would get most of the calls, going 46 yards on 4 carries, including his touchdown run of 8 yards with 2:21 to go in the quarter to put the Rollers on top 7 to 6.

Northern Lehigh would answer the call on their next possession going 54 yards on 10 plays, mostly runs like on their opening drive, finished off with a 2 yard plunge by the big running-back Alexander Jimenez-wittong, a converted two-point play would put the Bulldogs back on top 14 to 7 with 8:39 to go till halftime. Steelton wasn’t ready to be intimidated by the physicality play of Northern Lehigh and the Rollers would respond quickly, running just 3 plays, capped off with a leaping dive by QB-Alex Erby Jr. to tie the game at 14 each with 7:05 to play until halftime. We had ourselves a game folks, hard hitting, trash talking, even some extra activity after plays, but this is what playoff football is about. On the ensuing drive by the Bulldogs, they would again, show their size and strength driving 43 yards to the Rollers 20 before Rollers big free-safety Rell Ceasar Jr. would leap in the endzone and snag the ball for the games only interception, ending the Bulldogs drive with just 1:49 now to play in the first half. No other scoring would occur in the half, and we had a tie game at 14 each.

Northern Lehigh started the second half like they began the first quarter with a 67 yard drive, ending on a 2 yard plunge by the big man Jimenez-wittong, his second of the game to put the Bulldogs back in front 21 to 14 with 7:42 to go in the third. Jimenez-wittong would finish the game with 108 yards on 16 carries on the day. The next score on the day wouldn’t come till the final quarter when things started getting even more thrilling.

On the Rollers next possession, now in the fourth quarter, would amount a 9 play, 70 yard drive resulting in a touchdown run from Bernette Jr., his second of the game, from 5 yards out to tie the game once again. RBj would carry the load on the drive, going 69 yards on 7 carries. Bernette Jr. wasn’t done scoring as on the Rollers next possession, it would take just 2 plays after the Bulldogs punt would fall in their own territory at the 21, giving the Rollers great field possession, and after a five yard run, RBj would take off on his next carry for 16 yards and the score to put the Rollers in front for just the second time of the game 28 to 21 with 9:29 to go.

It seemed like momentum had turned but no quick enough as the Bulldogs weren’t done. Eleven plays later, and it looked like we would see another tie game but the Bulldogs would try for two and get stopped. On the drive however, Northern Lehigh would run the ball 10 times for 60 yards, the lone pass would go for 14 yards caught by AJ-wittong but the score would come from the QB-Nick Frame on a quarterback keeper up the middle with 3:47 to go in the game with the score 28 to 27 Rollers leading.

The Rollers would add to the pressure on their next possession when in just 3 plays, Steelton would score again with an 8 yard run to extend the lead to 35 to 27 with just 2:51 left to play. This didn’t seem to phase the Bulldogs as they would put together a 70 drive that would take 12 plays, and over 2:24 off the clock, finished off with another pass play from Frame to Austin Smyth, who even bobbled the ball a bit in the endzone but was able to hold on for the score. A two-point conversion attempt was obvious to follow and would be converted to tie the game at 35 a piece with just :27 seconds left to play in the game. The Bulldog drive however wasn’t with dispute as there was pass interference call on the Rollers that kept the drive alive and put the Bulldogs at first and goal, eventually leading up that final score by the Bulldogs.

One would’ve believed that with just seconds to go, the game would go into overtime, but this wasn’t the case in this game. Especially for the Rollers who received the ensuing kickoff and would take over at their 41. And that quickly, even fast enough to where I didn’t have the time to get down to the other end of the field in time to catch “the catch” that won the game for Steelton(12-1), and advanced them into next weekend’s PIAA CLASS 1A STATE SEMI-FINAL against Canton(12-1), who defeated Northern Cambria 42 to 13 in their quarter-final game over the weekend. On the final drive for the Rollers, my offensive player of the game, Ronald Bernette Jr. would carry twice for 18 yards, then finished off with 3 straight passes by Erby jr. that would eventually be capped off with a 20 yard strike to Jaieon Perry in the back corner of the endzone with just :04 seconds to go, with Steelton now leading 42 to 35. Bulldogs would have one last chance but couldn’t score and that was the game.

Crowd and Players went crazy following the catch by Perry that put the Rollers in the lead for good.

Click the box below to view the updated brackets for next weekend’s state semi-final matchups !

click to see brackets

 Unofficial Stats:
Northern Lehigh: Frame – 7-15-1=129 (2TDS)
Steelton-Highspire: Erby jr. – 9-13-0=93 (1TD)

Northern Lehigh: Alexander Jimenez-wittong – 16-108(2TDS), Nick Frame – 14-66(1TD), Izaiah Ramos – 12-83, John Abidelli – 12-44
Steelton-Highspire: Ronald Bernette Jr. – 24-267(3TDS), Alex Erby Jr. – 6-22(1TD), #6 – 4-39(1TD)

Northern Lehigh: Austin Smyth – 4-67(2TDS), AJ-W – 2-26, Izaiah Ramos – 1-36
Steelton-Highspire: Jaieon Perry – 3-39(1TD), #6 – 2-23, Rell Ceasar Jr. – 2-19, Caleb Duncan – 1-7,

Interceptions: 1 by Rell Ceasar Jr.(Steelton-Highspire)

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