Pine-Richland runs all over State College in PIAA quarterfinals
ALTOONA — Pine-Richland football coach Eric Kasperowicz said he felt before Saturday’s PIAA Class 6A quarterfinal against State College his guys up front would decide the game.
Pine-Richland’s massive front led by Andrew Kristofic and Michael Dorundo didn’t disappoint their coach. They paved the way as the Rams (11-2) ran over the Little Lions, 56-33, at Mansion Park Stadium.
The Rams outrushed the Little Lions, 450-159, and had three runners carry for more than 100 yards: Luke Meckler 207, Anthony Cerminara 137 and quarterback Cole Spencer 106.
Pine-Richland, which ended State College’s season for a third time, will face St. Joseph Prep in the semifinals at a time, date and site to be determined.
This will be the third consecutive year Pine-Richland, returning state champions, and St. Joseph Prep will meet. St. Joseph Prep was state champion in 2016. The Rams won, 42-21, in 2017, but lost 49-41 in 2016.
“The offensive line did a great job,” Spencer said. “They were opening up the holes for us.”
Pine-Richland took advantage of two State College turnovers in the first quarter to grab a 14-0 lead.
Spencer opened the scoring with a 3-yard run after Luke Miller swiped the ball from State College quarterback Tommy Friberg.
Cerminara, who scored three touchdowns, raced 29 yards to make it 14-0 after Meckler’s interception at the Pine-Richland 13. Cerminara nearly had a fourth touchdown in the fourth quarter when the officials ruled him down at the State College 1.
“I thought I was in,” Cerminara said. “It was a great win, something we’ve been building towards all season. State College was a good team, but we knew what they liked to do from last year.”
After that, the teams exchanged scores in the second and third quarters. Meckler’s 27-yard touchdown catch from Spencer on the first play of the fourth quarter and his 1-yard plunge iced the game.
Meckler scored three touchdowns. Spencer threw two touchdown passes, the first to Luke Miller for 31 yards on fourth down to give Pine-Richland a 21-7 lead in the second quarter.
The Rams, which gave up a 55-yard touchdown run to Dresyn Green in the first quarter and an 80-yard touchdown pass to Keaton Ellis in the second quarter, led 35-14 at halftime.
Cerminara’s touchdown to open the third quarter pushed the lead to 42-14, but State College scored twice to trim the lead to 42-27 late in the quarter.
“We’re a fast starting team, and any time you create turnovers and capitalize its big, especially in a state playoff game,” Kasperowicz said. “We felt pretty good up front. Obviously, with the scheme we had going in, we’d do that. That’s how you win championships: being able to run the ball and stop the running game.
“We gave up things in the passing game, which will be corrected, but we’re looking forward to preparing for St. Joseph.”
State College (11-2) stayed in the game because of Friberg, who completed 12 of 22 passes for 301 yards. He was elusive running the ball and avoided some sacks.
Ellis had 6 catches for 199 yards, and Green rushed for 98 yards on nine carries.
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at [email protected] or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.