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Steelton-Highspire can’t overcome penalties, loses to Homer-Center in Semi-Finals

Written by: on Saturday, December 2nd, 2017

 

Malachi Young’s father, Stewart, congratulates Homer-Center on their win

On the first play of the PIAA 1A semi-final at Hollidaysburg, Steelton-Highspire quarterback Malachi Young dropped back and launched a bomb to Jarvai Flowers. The Wildcat defender couldn’t make the play and Flower went untouched the rest of the way for a 65 yard td. The point after made it 7-0 just one play into the game. But from that point on the Rollers kept making mistakes and drawing penalties the eventually became too much to overcome in a tight game.

“I was just afraid it was going to turn into a rout. They have a lot of skill and being honest, I didn’t know if we could keep up” said Homer-Center Head Coach Greg Page. “Their kids, they go up and get the ball so well. Our guy had it covered but he got turned around. But my guys just, they’ve just responded so well this year to situations like that.” Homer-Center wouldn’t score the entire first half, but they never gave up and on the shoulders of their offensive line they paved their way to Hershey with a 20-14 win in a penalty marred game.

 

Neither team got close to the endzone in the first two quarters as both squads found themselves walking off personal foul penalties, five of them in all. In fact, most of the play was done in the center of the field with drives starting at the 6, 7, 13, 21 and 23, all ending in punts. But for as little the yardage totals were in the first half, Homer-Center and the Rollers only garnering around 80 net yards a piece , the second half was a different story. The Wildcats first play was much like the Rollers first play, a big hitter. Matt Miles burst down the right side for a 49 yard gain to the Roller 31. Mike McCracken hit a 20 yard dash and 3 plays later Jesse Lee put the ball in the endzone from 2 yards out. The kick was blocked leaving the score 7-6 with 7:43 remaining in the third quarter.

 

With a heavy dose of momentum, the Wildcat defense held Steelton to 3 and out on their first drive of the half, forcing a punt that gave them the ball at their 27. Aided by 2 more Roller personal fouls and runs of 13 and 7 yards from McCracken and Lee, the Wildcats were set up at the 20 with a first down. McCracken finished off the drive with a punishing 20 yard run. This time they went for 2 and it also failed, leaving the score 12-7 in favor of Homer-Center with 4:25 left in the third quarter.

 

Steelton head coach Andrew Erby went to a new tactic that worked well. Using a hurry up offense, the Rollers drove right down the field with Dupri Andrews leading the way. Young hit Dupri Andrews for a 33 yard gain to the Wildcat 44 and Young then appeared to score 2 plays later, but once again another penalty thwarted their efforts. The chop block moved them back to the 16 where the Wildcats held them.  “That kid was gone if not for Dakota Sunday tripping him up. Credit the defense there, that was huge for us, stopping them right there. It could have been 14-12 for them” said Page again.

 

Homer-Center drove the field again, getting to the Roller 20 before Ben Schmidt threw an pass that Roller DB Shykirr Johns picked off at the 7, halting that drive. Both teams traded personal foul penalties (3 in all) on this drive, a drive that would eventually end when Nick Schmidt intercepted Young in the endzone. With the ball at the Roller 33 and facing fourth and 2 with just 4:35 left in the game, Jesse Lee stepped into the huddle after a timeout. “When I got in there, I just started pumping up my line. They were doing a great job all night. Ben gave me the ball and when I got to the left side I saw a hole you could drive a mack truck through” said Lee. Thirty three yards later he celebrated in the endzone with his second td of the night. Schmidt this time converted the 2 point play to give the Wildcats a 20-7 lead with 4:25 remaining in the game.

 

“We ran a lot of different run formations and they were just coming right at us so we just said let’s just tighten things up and go right at them” said Page of the team effort that garnered over 350 yards on the ground, Lee with 141, McCracken 139 and Miles 73 of them. Steelton would score on a 77 yard pass to Andrews with a minute left, but the Rollers were unable to recover the onside kick and Homer-Center would take a knee to end the game.

 

Young finished with 122 yards and two tds with one interception. Flowers had 100 all purpose yards. The Rollers finished with a 11-3 record.

In one of the better displays of sportsmanship, Malachi Young’s father Stewart joined the Wildcat celebration to congratulate the winners. “You win like champions, you lose like champions. This is my youngest sons last football game and I just wanted to let them know we appreciate them and wished them the best of luck for Thursday afternoon in Hershey.”

 

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