‘Passionate’ State College defense holds strong in tight win over Central Dauphin
Tagged under: Centre County Report, District 6, Gameday Hub, News
Brendan Ricciardi | September 24, 2022
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — The State College Little Lions offense may not have been as spectacular as they had been in the first four games, but the defense was dominant as ever.
State College now sits at 5-0 on the season and 2-0 in the Mid-Penn Commonwealth after a 19-8 win over Central Dauphin (1-4, 1-1). This marks the first time that the Little Lions have taken down the Rams since the 2018 season.
The game started off with a bang, as backup quarterback Owen Yerka blocked a Central Dauphin punt to set State College up at the 12 yard-line.
The Little Lions wouldn’t be able to capitalize for a touchdown and had to settle for a Kajetan Kaszubowski field goal.
After Central Dauphin would go three-and-out, they’d punt it right back to State College. The game, and potentially season, almost took a huge hit for the Little Lions as star freshman running back D’Antae Sheffey went down hard after a 26-yard reception and needed to be helped off the field.
A pin drop could be heard around Memorial Field at that time, but Sheffey would soon return and have a major impact. More on that to come.
After a LeBron Mallard interception for Central Dauphin followed by a Rams punt, State College would extend on their lead as Finn Furmanek found Michael Gaul in the back of the end zone for a four-yard touchdown to put the Little Lions up 10-0.
Kajetan Kaszubowski added another field goal before the half for State College to give them a 13-0 lead going into the break.
State College drained nearly half of the third quarter on their first drive, but it would ultimately be for nothing as LeBron Mallard picked up his second interception of the day for Central Dauphin and gave the Rams a little bit of life.
Both teams would trade punts for the majority of the second half until Central Dauphin worked their way up to their own 46, finding themselves in a 4th and 5 situation.
With Central Dauphin desperately needing a first down, Ty Salazer made a phenomenal play to stop the run just short and turn the ball over on downs.
“Ty is a sophomore out there just tearing things up,” State College Head Coach Matt Lintal said. “He’s played a lot of football, he started as a freshman for us so he’s used to playing when the lights are on. He had an opportunity today and he took advantage of it.”
With the ball back and a 13-0 lead with just six minutes to play, D’Antae Sheffey gave the crowd what they were looking for as he finally broke loose and took a handoff 45 yards to the house to put the metaphorical icing on the cake.
It wasn’t the easiest days for Sheffey, who was dealing with some injury issues and not able to find much room to run for a lot of the night. His willingness to keep grinding out through adversity was monumental for the team in this win.
“When a kid comes in as a freshman, you see him on film and you know he’s an athletic kid but you just never know if he’s ready to play tough hard-nosed football,” Lintal said. “We saw that at Downingtown East and more of the same tonight. For him to bounce back after a couple of minor things there just says a lot about who he is as a person and how much love he has for this team.”
Central Dauphin started to play with some tempo on their final drive and finally found the end zone when Kyle McCullough ran in for a seven-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 19-8 with just under four minutes to play.
That would be the last time the Rams would touch the ball, as State College would run the clock out. This game marked the fourth time in five games that the Little Lions’ defense held their opponent to under 14 points, and the second game holding them to single digits.
“They play with great passion and energy. Our defensive staff with Mark Baney and his crew just did a phenomenal job,” Lintal said. “They put one in there at the end, but to keep them out of the endzone until late in the 4th was a spectacular effort by those guys.
For State College, they now take their 5-0 record on the road and will take on Central Dauphin East next Friday night. They’ll return back home the following weekend for a matchup with Carlisle.
While the Little Lions had control of this game for a majority of the time, penalties and turnovers were issues that the team will need to address.
For right now, State College just wants to savor their win.
“We’re gonna celebrate the win and all the positives first and foremost. I’m proud of these kids, it’s the first time in a while we’ve beat CD so we’re gonna celebrate that,” Lintal said. “Obviously any game that we have we want to go out and improve upon the mistakes and we will. These kids are driven, they’re motivated, so we’ll clean those things up.”
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