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Tigers Take Down Rams

Written by: on Sunday, November 15th, 2020

 

SCA scored 30 unanswered points in third quarter

At halftime of Saturday afternoon’s PIAA Class 2A quarterfinal game, which Southern Columbia won 57-30 over Richland, the Tigers found themselves in a rare situation for their standards. Not only did Southern’s Mercy Rule streak appear to be coming to an end, but more importantly the Rams were in a position to end the Tigers winning streak period. After SCA jumped out to a 20-0 lead in the first quarter in Altoona, Richland stormed back to cut the Tiger lead to 27-22 at the half with the Rams getting the ball to start the third quarter.

Not only did Southern keep their winning streak intact, they found a way to keep their Mercy Rule streak alive as well. In less than a minute of game time early in the third quarter, the three-time defending state champions scored 16 points to regain the momentum that they wouldn’t relinquish. The Tigers would add two more touchdowns to officially put the nail in the coffin and add a 29th consecutive Mercy Rule win to their current 58-game winning streak. “We didn’t really change anything at halftime in terms of our approach,” said SCA head coach Jim Roth. “The players knew what they needed to do, and it was obviously great to see how they came out and responded in the third quarter against a very good football team.”

For as strong of an offense the Tigers have had once again this year, the turning point in this one came on special teams and defense courtesy of Jake Davis and Gavin Garcia. After forcing a three-and-out to start the third quarter, Davis returned a punt to the nine to put the black and gold in position to extend their lead. Two plays later, Garcia scored to make the score 35-22. “Often times in the state playoffs, one or two plays can change the momentum. Jake and Gavin came up huge for us when we needed a big play,” Roth said.

On the next defensive possession, Garcia made a rare appearance on defense. The future Division 1 recruit intercepted a pass on the first play of the drive and returned it 21 yards for a score. After a second straight two-point conversion, SCA extended their lead to 43-22. “All week at practice the coaches told me that I might see some time at outside linebacker. I knew that if I got the opportunity that I needed to make a statement,” said the junior running back who rushed for 197 yards and two touchdowns on offense.

Davis intercepted a pass on the next drive which set up a 33-yard touchdown run by Braeden Wisloski to make the score 50-22. “We were faced with some adversity at halftime, but we knew what we had to do in the second half,” said Davis who is now just one interception from tying the Tigers career record. “We weren’t going to allow our season to come to an end, so we came out and made some plays.”

Garcia ripped off a 78-yard run in the fourth quarter to officially put the game into the Mercy Rule at 57-22. “Southern showed in the second half why they are the defending champions,” said Richland coach Brandon Bailey. “I am proud of the way our guys continued to battle after going down early. Our players kept fighting, but they just made more plays than we did after halftime.” Sam Penna scored the final touchdown of the game on a 24-yard carry.

Before all of the switching of momentum in the second and third quarter, SCA’s Wes Barnes took over in the first quarter with a combination of his running and receiving. The fullback scored all three of the games first quarter touchdowns at Mansion Park, which is the stadium that Southern won their first state title in 1994, by breaking through the Richland defense. “I came out fired up today and focused on making the most out of each opportunity. We aren’t stopping until we get another state title,” Barnes said. “Between the three of us in the backfield when Gavin, Braeden, and myself are all making plays the defense has to try and defend us from all angles and that sets up different options.” The sophomore scored on runs of 9 and 40 yards before making a highlight reel play on a 64-yard screen pass.

In the second quarter, the Rams didn’t allow the first quarter “Barnes Show” to stop their attempt at a comeback. The junior combination of Kellan Stahl to Griffin Larue got the Rams on the board with a 29-yard touchdown pass. Wisloski scored on the following drive from a yard out to put SCA in front 27-7, but the Rams added two more touchdowns before halftime. Grayden Lewis had a 27-yard rushing touchdown, and Larue caught a 63-yard pass with less than a minute remaining in the first half to make it a one-score game.

On Larue’s second touchdown, the junior appeared to catch a break from the sideline official. Davis appeared to be in a position to make a play on the ball, but Larue gave him a little shove before catching the pigskin and racing to the end zone for the Rams. “As a defensive back, you have to have a short memory and not allow the negatives to affect you. I thought he got away with one on that play, but the ref didn’t see it so you just move on to the next play from that point on,” said Davis who now has 16 career interceptions.

From that point, after a halftime talk from a coaching staff that has won a state-record 10 PIAA titles, the Tigers settled down and the rest was history. “You don’t often see a game where one team has all the momentum in the first quarter, and then it completely shifts in the other direction during the next quarter. We made some mistakes in the second quarter, but give Richland credit for the way they kept their composure after falling behind,” Roth said. “The big difference in the second half was the outstanding play of our defense and special teams.”

Richland (8-2) sees their season come to an end, but it was certainly another successful one. The Rams won a third straight District 6 title during the unprecedented 2020 season. “We hadn’t ever won three in a row before now, so that is something that all of our players can certainly be proud of,” said Bailey. Southern Columbia (10-0) will travel to Selinsgrove next Saturday afternoon for the PIAA Class 2A Eastern Final against District 12 champion Bishop McDevitt. “Not having to travel well over two hours like we did in this game is something the players will be happy about. Then hopefully we will have another opportunity to get to Hershey,” said Roth who will be coaching in his state-record 20th state semifinal game.

Southern 57, Richland 30

Southern: 20-7-22-7 — 57

Richland: 0-22-0-8 — 30

SCORING:

First quarter

SC — Wes Barnes 9 run (kick blocked) – 9:57

SC — Wes Barnes 40 run (Isaac Carter kick) – 6:46

SC — Wes Barnes 64 pass from Liam Klebon (Isaac Carter kick) – 3:27

Second quarter

R — Griffin Larue 29 pass from Kellan Stahl (Autumn Facci kick) – 7:55

SC — Braeden Wisloski 1 run (Isaac Carter kick) – 4:23

R — Grayden Lewis 27 run (Autumn Facci kick) – 2:30

R — Griffin Larue 63 pass from Stahl (Jordan Ford pass from Stahl) – 0:30

Third quarter

SC — Gavin Garcia 1 run (Collin Sharrow pass from Liam Klebon) – 9:47

SC — Gavin Garcia 21 interception return (Liam Klebon run) – 9:06

SC — Braeden Wisloski 33 run (Isaac Carter kick) – 3:00

Fourth quarter

SC — Gavin Garcia 78 run (Isaac Carter kick) – 10:57

R — Sam Penna 24 run (Jordan Ford pass from Penna) – 0:35

BOX SCORE:

RUSHING:

Southern Columbia: Gavin Garcia 17-197, 2 TD’s; Wes Barnes 14-119, 2 TD’s; Braden Wisloski 4-37, 2 TD’s; Matt Masala 2-8; Connor Gallagher 1-6; Trevor Yorks 1-1; Ian Yoder 1-0. Richland: Grayden Lewis 8-79, TD; Kellan Stahl 20-60; Sam Penna 4-45, TD; Allen Mangus 3-11; Draveyn Plachy 1-6; Jordan Ford 1-5; Evan McCracken 2-1; Griffin Larue 1-(-2).

PASSING:

Southern Columbia: Liam Klebon 3-5-0, 89 yds, TD. Richland: Kellan Stahl 14-29-2, 189 yds, 2 TD’s; Sam Penna 0-1-0.

RECEIVING:
Southern Columbia: Wes Barnes 1-64, TD; Gavin Garcia 1-21; Jake Rose 1-4. Richland: Griffin Larue 9-141, 2 TD’s, Sam Penna 2-20, Grayden Lewis 1-12, Ryan McGowan 1-12, Evan McCracken 1-1.

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