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St. Joseph’s Prep Shuts Out Pine-Richland to Earn 6A Title Shot @GinfanteMT @SJPREP

Marvin Harrison Jr. hauls in a dart from McCord

Nationally ranked St. Joseph’s Prep (#9 according to USA Today) proved itself Saturday afternoon at Mansion Park in Altoona in a convincing way by shutting out D-7 champ Pine-Richland, 37-0.  The victory vaulted St. Joes into the Class 6A finals against Harrisburg in Hershey next Saturday night.  It was retribution of sorts for the Hawks as the Rams beat them last year in the championship game 41-21.

Things did not start out well for the Hawks when Pine-Richland’s Zach Waryanka executed a perfect on sides kick and recovered his own kick at the Hawk 46.  The Rams used up 4 minutes driving to the Hawks’ nine-yard line, but Luke Meckler was dumped for a five-yard loss on second down.  After an incomplete pass, P-R coach Eric Kasperowicz decided to roll the dice going for it on fourth down.  When that pass failed, the Hawks took over at the fourteen and took control of the game.

They drove 86 yards in less than three minutes, using nine plays culminating on QB Kyle McCord’s 43-yard TD toss to Marques Mason who gathered the ball in near the twenty, had a violent collision with two Ram defenders, somehow kept his feet, and waltzed down the sideline into the end zone.  The point after was blocked and St. Joes led 6-0.  They never looked back.

“They (Pine-Richland) have a lot of highly recruited guys on their line but at the end of the day I’ll take the five guys I have in front of me over any guys in the country”. That was sophomore sensation quarterback Kyle McCord on the job his teams line did in the PIAA class 6A semi-final game. The Prep line dominated the Rams highly touted line and shut out the Rams 37-0 at a rainy Mansion Park in Altoona, stamping their Golden ticket for a return to HersheyPark Stadium and a chance to play Harrisburg for the PIAA 6A title. “We played a lot of games in the rain, but the group of receivers we have is amazing”, said McCord

The Hawks started at the Ram 41 three minutes later when they stuffed a run attempt by Meckler on fourth and two.  Eight plays later Kolbe Burrell barreled in from the three and Antonio Chadha’s PAT made it 13-0 three seconds into the second stanza.

Burrell scored touchdown number two on a two-yard run at the 8:42 mark and Chadha connected on a 33-yard field goal with 2:04 remaining in the half to send the high-flying Hawks into the break with a 23-0 advantage.  St. Joes Prep limited Pine-Richland’s option read running game to 45 yards on 25 carries in the first half.  The Hawks ‘D’ also held the D-7 champs to 59 total yards in the first two quarters.

After forcing the Rams to punt, Prep scored on its opening possession of the third quarter when McCord threw a nice 10-yard pass to Anthony Rightly.  Chadha’s extra point pushed the lead to 30-0 with 7:53 on the third period clock.

Pine-Richland’s longest play from scrimmage came late in the third quarter.  Lined up for a punt, the ball was centered to up man, Anthony Cerminara, who rumbled 21 yards to the Hawk 40.  But Nicolas Rios intercepted a Cole Spencer pass on the next play preserving the shutout.  In the fourth quarter, the Rams were in Hawk territory again, this time at the 45.  This time Zach Bouggess picked off Spencer’s long pass at the St. Joes seven.

“They just have a really good team. That first drive, we weren’t able to put it in there after we got the onside kick and we needed that there, needed that enthusiasm” said Ram Head Coach Eric Kasperowicz. “They come back, got up on us there. They weren’t able to run on us but McCord just spread the ball out there. He’s the best quarterback we saw all year by far.”

That turnover led to Prep’s last touchdown.  St. Joes eight play, 93-yard drive was highlighted by a 65-yard run by Burrell on the second snap.  “My line is just great, I trust them. Last year our seniors didn’t get a championship because we lost to this team so I wanted to win it for them.”  The score came on McCord’s third touchdown pass.  This time it was a nine-yard strike to Tyrio Jones-Garland with 2:23 to play.

“It takes a lot of hark work, a lot of sacrifice by our coaches and players. We never get used to it” said Prep’s Head Coach Gabe Infante. “That’s a good Pine-Richland team we beat, but it’s just on to the next game. We’re excited.”

Kyle McCord ripped up the Rams defense in terrible conditions, leading the Hawks to the win

Game Notes:  McCord is the real McCoy at quarterback.  The sophomore signal-caller completed 22 of 31 passes for 305 yards and three scores.  Kyle has offers from Penn State, Michigan, West Virginia, Baylor, Syracuse, North Carolina, and Arizona among others.  His bevy of receivers caught practically everything he threw at them.  Mason caught 6 passes for 69 yards, Johnny Freeman snagged 5 throws for 95 yards, and Marvin Harrison, Jr. grabbed 4 for 78 markers.  Burrell led all rushers with 84 yards on 18 carries, but 65 came on the one run late in the game.  For the entire contest, St’ Joes outgained Pine-Richland 423 to 158.  Spencer had the most yards for the Rams, running for 70 yards on 22 carries.  He was 6 out of 25 passing for 38 yards and was intercepted twice.  Pine-Richland finishes 11-3, while St. Joes goes to 12-0.

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