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Mount Lebanon cruises to Hershey @mtlebofootball @EHeidenreich44

Written by: on Saturday, December 4th, 2021


Mount Lebanon’s Alex Tecza runs the ball in Saturday’s 49-28 win over State College. Photo by: Mark Helbley. Saturday, December 4, 2021.

The Mount Lebanon Blue Devils and State College Little Lions squared off at windy Manion Park for a trip to next week’s PIAA 6A State Championship game. However, for the Blue Devils, the wind wasn’t holding back the powerful offense as they finished with 487 total yards of offense in a 49-28 victory. For the Blue Devils, a duo of quarterback Joey Daniels and receiver Eli Heidenreich couldn’t be stopped. Daniels finished 13-15 for 303 yards and six touchdowns as Heidenreich finished with 9 catches for 277 yards and five touchdowns while adding 53 rushing yards. 

The scoring was quick and often for the Blue Devils. On just the second play of the game, Daniels connected with Heidenreich on a screenplay, and Heidenreich rumbled 68 yards to the house. After a made pat the score was 7-0 Blue Devils early. On the next possession, Daniels would throw a 67-yard dime to Heidenreich to extend the lead to 14-0 early in the game.

State College would respond when down 14. On the following drive, Owen Yerka connected with Jashaun Green from 44 yards out for the touchdown. After a made pat the score sat 14-7 Blue Devils late in the first quarter. However, the Blue Devils would strike back. Daniels rolled out right and found Alex Tecza for a five-yard touchdown. Tecza would score again on the following possession on the ground from two yards out early in the second quarter to take the 28-7 lead. 

State College found themselves in a bind and to make matters worse the very next play after the Tecza touchdown the Little Lions fumbled the ball and was recovered at the 26-yard line. A few plays later Daniels would connect with Heidenreich for the third time from 15 yards out. After the pat, the score was 35-7 Blue Devils. 

The Little Lions would make an attempt to claw back. On the following possession, Brady Bendik powered his way in from three yards out to make the score 35-14 Blue Devils. However, Daniels would find Heidenreich from 11 yards out for the fourth time with 59 seconds to go in the half to make the score 42-14.  

To open the second half the Little Lions looked to use their rushing attack to get back into the game. However, on the opening drive, Beckham Dee intercepted Yerka on fourth down. On the following drive, Daniels connected with Heidenreich from 52 yards out for their fifth touchdown of the game. This put the Blue Devils up 49-14 late in the third quarter. The Little Lions would get on the scoreboard two more times in the game. Bendik rushed in from one yard out and Yerka found Green midway through the fourth quarter to make the score 49-28 Blue Devils which would be the final score of the game. 

Eli Heidenreich finished the game with 320 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns. He commented on his performance saying, “I gotta give credit to my line, they gave my quarterback time to throw and I would just do the rest.” 

Coach Bob Palko also commented on Heidenreich’s game,” Whether it’s Eli or Alex or Joey, we try to put them in position to make plays but ultimately it has to be 11 as one. He’s a special talent.” 

The Mount Lebanon Blue Devils advance to Hershey for the first time in history with the win over the Little Lions. The Blue Devils will face the winner of Garnet Valley and Saint Joseph’s Prep next Saturday at 6 p.m.  

“First of all the group of kids, we have, the way they work and care about for each other, you put in a mix of a community that has been prying for something to cheer about, it’s the kids that gave that to them.” Said, coach Palko.  


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