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Southern Columbia wins 4th-Straight Title, Roth wins 456th Game @SoCoTigerSports @WilmingtonSD

Written by: on Saturday, November 28th, 2020

 

Southern Columbia cruised to its state-record 11th State Championship Saturday afternoon at HersheyPark Stadium.

However, what might have been even more impressive than the Tigers’ 42-14 victory over Wilmington is that head coach Jim Roth passed the legendary Berwick head coach George Curry with his 456th all-time win.

“This title was special because anytime you lose five Division 1 players, you’re going to be expecting some kind of drop-off,” said Southern Columbia head coach Jim Roth.

“We might not have to big-time prospects on the team this year,” said Roth. “We have a select group that has done a tremendous job and their special football players. We have a community that backs the program, and I have many assistants who have been with me through the years. I respect the heck out of George Curry, and I learned an awful lot from him.”

With all the uncertainly 2020 has brought us, one thing that wasn’t a surprise was seeing two teams that have been so dominant at the 2A level meeting again for PIAA gold.

Southern Columbia had beaten the “Hounds 48-0 in 2017 and 49-14 in 2018.

After a 1-year hiatus, the two teams were back—each with undefeated records.

While Southern Columbia may have lost five Divison 1 football players from last year’s team, that is all this year’s senior class has ever lost.

With their fourth straight state title now in check, what is equally impressive is the Tigers are now on a 60-game winning streak. The current state record is 66 games held by Clairton.

Saturday’s game once again showcased the talents of Southern Columbia standout junior Gavin Garcia.

Garcia, who totaled 315 yards of total offense, capped a 9-play 61-yard drive to open the scoring with a 1-yard run.

 

Following a Greyhounds punt, Garcia hauled in a 65-yard screen pass outracing the Wilmington defense, putting the Tigers in front 14-0 after a quarter.

Wilmington got into the end zone after failing on 4th-down inside the red zone when the “Hounds pounced on a fumble, and Darren Miller scored from 12 yards out, cutting the deficit in half at 14-7.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our football team,” said Wilmington head coach Brandon Phillian. “These guys gave their all, and I couldn’t have asked for more. They were exceptionally well prepared and, with preparation, gave their all. They were focused all week and left no stone unturned.”

Ethan Susen led Wilmington with 137 yards on 25 carries.

Big plays were the name of the game for Southern Columbia all day long, and Garcia broke loose for a 79-yard touchdown run with 2:30 left in the first half that gave the Tigers a 21-7 lead heading into the locker room.

In the first two matchups with the Tigers, the second half hadn’t been kind to Wilmington.

The ‘Hounds looked to flip the script as they drove 66 yards in 13 plays. Quarterback Caelan Bender connected with Mason Reed for a 17-yard touchdown pass on a 4th-and-5 that pulled Wilmington to within a touchdown with 4:17 to play in the third quarter.

 

“That was a huge play, Caelan Bender put a great ball up there, and Mason Reed made a great catch,” said Phillian. “I felt we had the momentum, but Southern Columbia is a great team, and they found a way to take it back after that.”

On the ensuing drive, faced with a 3rd-and-4, Garcia again broke free and raced past the Wilmington defenders for a 74-yard touchdown three plays later.

Southern Columbia led 28-14 after the third quarter. Garcia rushed for 217 yards on 13 carries.

“It’s about playing our style of football,” said Garcia. “This shows a ton about our team, despite how many guys we have to replace. Everyone came out and made plays today on the biggest stage for high school football.”

The Tigers then put the game away on Liam Klebon’s 79-yard touchdown pass to Jake Davis with 9:28 to play.

“I was waiting for a chance to throw it down the field all game,” said Klebon. “When they called it, I told Jake to catch it on your outside shoulder because they were playing inside. That’s where the ball ended up.”

 

Klebon was perfect on the afternoon, going 4-for-4 for 177 yards and two touchdowns.

“It felt great. That first screen pass got me going,” said Klenbon.

Wes Barnes then capped the scoring with a 2-yard with 3:49 to play.

Southern Columbia caps its fourth straight unbeaten season at 12-0.

“It’s been a strange season with everything that has gone on,” said Roth. “I can’t say enough about this team as a whole after last season. To work the way they did to get back and play at this level.”

Wilmington concludes another great season at 10-1. This year’s seniors have compiled a record of 49-5.

“I can’t say enough about these seniors,” Phillian concluded. “We’ve got a chance to see them on the football field for four years now. I’ll tell you this. These are not only football players. They are high-character young men.”

Southern Columbia 42 Wilmington 14

Score by Quarters

Southern Columbia – 14 7 7 14 – 42
Wilmington – 0 7 7 0 – 14

Scoring Summary

First Quarter

SC – Gavin Garcia 1 yd run, (Isaac Carter pat), 7:30
SC – Garcia 65 yd pass from Liam Klebon, (Carter pat), 3:18

Second Quarter

W – Darren Miller 12 yd run, (Dan Hartwell pat), 11:44
SC – Garcia 89 yd run, (Carter pat), 2:30

Third Quarter

W – Mason Reed 17 yd pass from Caelan Bender, (Hartwell pat),
SC – Garcia 74 yd run, (Carter pat), 3:22

Fourth Quarter

SC – Jake Davis 79 yd pass from Klebon, (Carter pat), 9:28
SC – Wes Barnes 2 yd run, (Carter pat), 3:49

Individual Stats

Rushing: Southern Columbia – Garcia 13-217, Braeden Wisloski 6-51, Barnes 6-12, Braden Heim 2-11, Trevor Yorke 1-1, Team 2-0, Klebon 1(-4). Totals: 31-288. Wilmington – Ethan Susen 25-137, Miller 17-67, Bender 15-32. Totals: 57-236.

Passing: Southern Columbia – Klebon 4-for-4, 177 yards, 2 touchdowns. Wilmington – Bender 1-for-4, 17 yards, 1 touchdown.

Receiving: Southern Columbia – Garcia 3-98, Davis 1-79. Wilmington – Reed 1-17.

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