NEW PARIS — Holding a four-point lead in the opening minutes of the second half, Penn Cambria appeared poised for a bounce-back game Friday against Chestnut Ridge.
The Panthers, losers of five of their past six games, were desperate for a spark as the playoffs loom and appeared to have the game swinging in their direction.
But with a big passing play minutes later and an onslaught by the Lions on the ground, Penn Cambria couldn’t weather the storm as it fell, 24-14.
“It’s frustrating. We take two steps forward and then two steps back,” Penn Cambria coach Nick Felus said. “We’re still making some key mistakes in key situations, and we just haven’t been able to overcome some of those mistakes.”
Play of the game: Chestnut Ridge quarterback Nate Whysong connected with his older brother, Matt Whysong, on a short slant route in the second quarter. Catching the ball in stride, Matt Whysong blew past a pair of defenders and took the ball to the end zone for a 50-yard score. The big play helped Chestnut Ridge take a 10-7 lead.
Player of the game: Chestnut Ridge senior fullback Jonah Hillegass, who scored twice and rushed for a team-high 93 yards over 12 carries.
Unsung heroes: Penn Cambria quarterback Garrett Harrold, who was blitzed throughout the night but kept numerous plays alive with his shifting and quick feet. He had a team-high 21 carries for 124 yards and one touchdown. … Penn Cambria wide receiver Cole Eberhart, who intercepted Matt Whysong in the first quarter. … Penn Cambria senior lineman Brock Sral, who recorded two sacks and kept Nate Whysong uncomfortable in the pocket throughout the night.
Power run: On a fourth-and-5 in the opening minutes of the second quarter, Harrold faked the handoff and kept the ball himself. After driving through two defenders, he powered into the end zone for a 10-yard score as the Panthers took a 7-3 lead at the time.
Game sealing pick: With just over two minutes remaining in the game, Matt Whysong jumped in front of a pass from Harrold near the Chestnut Ridge 30-yard line and shut down any hopes of a Panther comeback.
Most vital statistic: After dropping back to pass several times in the first half, Chestnut Ridge attempted just two passes in the second half.
Felus: “We were really physical on both sides of the ball. Our kids had a lot of energy and were excited coming into this game. But we came out a little bit flat, and we need to figure out why.”
Shoemaker: “We knew we had to contain Harrold and not let him go crazy. I think we did a pretty good job overall. He got some yards on the ground, but we didn’t give up the big play, and I think that was critical.”
Hillegass: “I give a lot of credit to Penn Cambria. They are a great team. But we knew we were going to come out here and win, because us seniors needed this last win on our home field.”
Notable: Opposite of Chestnut Ridge, the Panthers found more success throwing the football in the second half. Penn Cambria had just four pass completions of 24 yards in the first half, but the Panthers kept several drives alive in the second stanza with a few clutch passes from Harrold. … Penn Cambria held the score close with a tally midway through the third quarter. Harrold connected with his brother, Gavin, on a big fourth-down completion of 15 yards and paved the way for a 3-yard rushing touchdown from senior running back Zack Eckenrode.
Records: Penn Cambria (5-5); Chestnut Ridge (6-4).
Next week: Penn Cambria will travel to No. 2 Tyrone in the District 6 Class 3A quarterfinals; Chestnut Ridge travels to face No. 1 Westinghouse in the District 5 Class 2A quarterfinals.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Penn Cambria 0 7 7 0 — 14
Chestnut Ridge 3 14 0 7 — 24
CR–Moyer 32 FG, 8:35
PC–Harrold 10 run (Chase Sorichetti kick), 9:45
CR–M. Whysong 50 pass from N. Whysong (Moyer kick), 7:41
CR–Hillegass 2 run (Moyer kick), :44
PC–Zack Eckenrode 3 run (Sorichetti kick), 5:30
CR–Hillegass 31 run (Moyer kick), 5:03
TEAM STATISTICS PC CR
First downs 10 8
Total yards 253 277
Rushes-yards 34-163 33-190
Passingyards 90 87
Comp-att-int 10-26-1 5-801
Punts-avg. 3-36 2-52
Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-1
Penalties-yards 4-30 4-45
RUSHING–Penn Cambria, Gar. Harrold 21-124, Grove 10-37, Eckenrode 3-2. Chestnut Ridge, Hillegass 12-92, N. Whysong 13-67, Presnell 6-31, M. Whysong 1-1, TEAM 1-(-1).
PASSING–Penn Cambria, Gar. Harrold 9-24-1-90, Shuagis 1-1-0-2, Gav. Harrold 0-1-0-0. Chestnut Ridge, N. Whysong 5-7-0-87, M. Whysong 0-1-1-0.
RECEIVING–Penn Cambria, Shuagis 2-44, Grove 4-25, Gav. Harrold 1-15, Eberhart 1-5, McDermott 1-1. Chestnut Ridge, Matt Whysong 4-70, Weyandt 1-17.