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Penn-Trafford Wins First Ever State Football Championship @ptwarriorfb @PTWarriors

Written by: on Saturday, December 11th, 2021

 

The greatest Class 5A title game ever played and one of the greatest games in PIAA championship history occurred Friday night at Hersheypark Stadium when the Penn-Trafford Warriors edged the Imhotep Charter Panthers 17-14 in overtime.  It was a real slobber-knocker from start to finish as the two 5A powerhouses went toe to toe and slugged it out down to the last play in overtime when the Warriors’ Conlan Greene with a bit of help from Joe Enick sacked the Imhotep quarterback.  “That’s a moment I’ll never forget.  Without a doubt it’s the greatest football game I ever played in,” said one of the stars of the game, Cade Yacamelli.

Imhotep tried to intimidate Penn-Trafford during the warmups and the coin toss, but the Warrior players and leadership would not allow that to happen.  “We were really the underdog here,” stated Yacamelli.  “To keep our heads on straight when they were mouthing us off in warmups and all that stuff.  For us to do business as usual, that’s this program and what it’s built on.”

The game featured lots of defense and pad popping.  Penn-Trafford’s coach John Ruane said, “Our defense won the championship.  That old cliché ‘defense wins championships’ came through tonight without question.  The defense was the reason we were in this game.  The defense is the reason we won this football game.”

There was just enough offense to allow each team to score a pair of touchdowns.  Both offenses scored in the second and fourth quarters, but it was Penn-Trafford’s scores at the end of each half that may have caused a lot of nail-biting among their fans which was about 2,000 strong.  “Our offense had a couple of big drives when we had to have them,” stated Ruane.  In fact, the 17 points scored by Penn-Trafford was the most points Imhotep gave up all year.

After Tep’s Rahmir Stewart scored the first touchdown of the game with 3:29 left in the second quarter to cap a 12-play, 67-yard drive and put his Panthers up 6-0, the Warriors embarked on a 65-yard, 8-play drive that ended when Yacamelli cashed in from two yards out with only four ticks left on the clock.  Nathan Schlessinger’s PAT gave Penn-Trafford the lead, 7-6, going into the break.  The highlight of the drive was Yacamelli’s 36-yard jaunt on a 3rd and six from the Imhotep 38.  It was a thing of beauty watching his balance and power and determination all come together to get his team to within striking distance.

 

The second half saw these two incredible teams come out with lots of emotion.  The offenses tried as they might to find chinks in the other’s defense but it seemed to be to no avail until the last quarter.  Then Imhotep kept feeding the ball to Tre McLeod and the Panthers methodically advanced downfield until Stewart scored touchdown number two and the successive 2-point conversion to push Imhotep into the lead 14-7 with 7:29 on the clock.  During that 14-play 66-yard drive McLeod carried the ball 9 times for 53 yards.

Each team went three and out on their next possession to set up ‘The Drive’ by Penn-Trafford.  With a second over four minutes possibly left in their season, the Warriors began their game-tying drive at their own 44 after a 15-yard penalty was assessed to the Panthers for interfering with the Penn-Trafford return man as he tried to catch the punt. The biggest play during that drive was a fourth down pass interference penalty on Imhoptep as Yacamelli tried to secure a pass near the goal line.  That gave the Warriors a first down at the Tep 13, but time kept ticking down.

After a first down run by quarterback Carter Green put the ball on the three, Yacamelli ran a yard to the two.  On second and goal Coach Ruane put Conlan Greene in at QB.  Receiving the snap, he ran toward the line and hit a wide-open Jack Jollie with the jump pass for the score with only 34 seconds left.  Ruane said that they practice that play twice a week every week all year long.  “We found it was the time and the place for it.  It was perfect,” he added.  Schlessinger, facing a lot of pressure to tie the game, calmly nailed the PAT to send the game into overtime.

 

Penn-Trafford got the ball on the ten first and had a third and two before a procedure penalty moved the ball back to the seven.  After an incomplete pass, Schlessinger connected on a 24-yard field goal to give the Warriors the 17-14 advantage.  “Our safety net is Nathan Schlessinger,” said Ruane.

 

Imhotep started out with a 5-yard penalty and then Stewart gained those five yards back.  A bad snap that cost the Panthers 16 yards before an incompletion set up the game winning sack.  With that sack the Warrior season ended in jubilant celebration and a memory that will last forever for all who participated and the fans who witnessed perhaps the greatest game in Penn-Trafford history.

Box Score/Summary/Stats:

2021 PIAA Championships – Penn-Trafford vs Imhotep Charter

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