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Written by: Phil Myers on Saturday, November 28th, 2020
The Rams of Pine-Richland won their second state title by rather easily defeating Erie Cathedral Prep 48-7 in the third game of Friday’s PIAA triple header in Hershey. Pine-Richland had their way with Cathedral Prep after a slow start in the 5A tilt.
Caden Schweiger, the senior running back for the Rams, scored three touchdowns on runs of 7, 12, and 5 yards. He said, “It was scary at first, but we’re relentless. We played our hearts out and we’re on top now. There’s nothing like this (feeling).”
Schweiger’s 7-yard TD run. (Photo by Sykotyk)
The seniors on this 2020 championship team were freshmen when Pine-Richland won their first title in 2017 beating St. Joe’s Prep 41-21 with Phil Jurkovec as quarterback. “We knew back then this was a special group,” stated winning coach Eric Kasperowicz, “in 9th grade they were undefeated and didn’t lose a game. On top of that, the most important thing is they had a group they could emulate, a group they could look up to.”
Pine-Richland’s lethargic start was due in part by the Prep defense who was stuffing the runs and pressuring the quarterback on passes. The Rams scored early in the quarter though when QB Cole Spencer went off tackle for 18 yards on a 4th and 2. That touchdown was a result of a turnover by the Ramblers when they fumbled on a 3rd and short situation giving Pine-Richland the ball at the Rambler 26. The opening quarter otherwise was highlighted by each team punting three times.
Jeremiah Hasley’s 14-yard run put the team from Gibsonia up 14-0 just nineteen seconds into the second quarter and on the Rams next possession Schweiger scored the first of his trio of TDs to give his team a three-score cushion at 21-0. Those were P-R’s only two possessions of substance in quarter two. Spencer attributed the turn-around in Pine-Richland’s offense to “mid-game adjustments.” Those adjustments by the Ram coaches had quite an effect as they went from 3 punts and 59 total yards in quarter one to no punts and 340 yards the rest of the game.
Hasley scoring from the 14. (Photo by Sykotyk)
Erie Prep finally solved the Ram defense, at least for this one drive right before the half. The Ramblers cut the Pine-Richland lead to 21-7 when Tamar Sample connected with Patrick Fortin on a 3-yard TD pass with only 17 seconds left in the half. The score right before the half and the fact that the Ramblers were to receive the second half kick Prep some life. But that 15-play 74-yard drive was the only time they dented the Ram defense led by PCN’s player of the game, Luke Miller who made or assisted in making 16 tackles.
Cathedral Prep’s Sample under pressure. (Photo by Sykotyk)
Coach Kasperowicz said this about Miller, “He plays with heart. Even when he screws up, he still makes plays. Everything he does is intense. There’s no slow motion with Luke.”
The Rams’ score in the third stanza came on an 86-yard TD pass from Spencer to Eli Jochem. Actually, it was a short flare pass that Jochem turned into a score when he flicked on the after burners and outran the Rambler defense to the end zone. The only other highlight of the quarter was when Pine-Richland fumbled a punt and their defense subsequently put up a goal line stand at the three-yard line, stuffing three straight runs and then seeing Hasley sack the quarterback on 4th down.
Jochem is off to the races for the 86-yard TD. (Photo by Sykotyk)
Pine-Richland capped their championship night by scoring thrice in the final quarter. Jordan Burns, who led all rushers in the game with 130 yards on only 6 carries, scored his only touchdown on a 21-yard run sandwiched by Schweiger’s other two TDs.
Spencer went 10 of 16 passing for 179 yards and a TD. Jochem caught 7 of those passes for 162 yards and the one score. The Rams ended the game with 399 yards of offense. Schweiger was a force on defense also chipping in with 10 tackles and Pine-Richland’s only sack of the game.
Sample completed 8 of 15 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown for Prep. Fortin hauled in 3 passes for 51 yards and the Ramblers only score. Michael Parks III led Prep in rushing with 72 yards on 19 carries. Cathedral Prep finished with 244 total yards.
Pine-Richland ended their season with a record of 11-0 and Erie Cathedral Prep completed the year 7-3.
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