Harrisburg finds their golden ticket in win over West Allegheny
Micah Parsons carried the ball ten times for 140 yards and two TDs and chipped in a touchdown reception to lead the Cougars over West Allegheny which earned them a trip to Chocolate town with a 41-10 blowout. “It’s amazing,” said the versatile Penn State commit. “I am just so happy to be a part of this.”
Head coach Bob Palko heaped the praise on the Cougars, “There were a lot of things we couldn’t do today. We had a hard time running the ball, and we just couldn’t slow them down. We made too many mistakes, turned the ball over a couple times but sometimes you just have to know that you flat out got beat and just give a tip of the hat to the other team. They’re very good.”
It wasn’t pretty from the start for the Indians. Parsons got things rolling fast as he ripped off a 41-yard TD to get the scoring started. Following the PAT, Harrisburg led 7-0. He continued his domination on both sides of the ball on the Indians’ opening possession, getting a sack of QB Nick Ross.
The Indians got tough the rest of the first quarter, and both teams traded possessions keeping the score 7-0 until late in the second quarter. Harrisburg was forced to punt and the ball rolled to the three-yard line. Nick Ross and Kenny White then led West Allegheny on a 97-yard, eight-play drive to tie the score. White found Mateo Vandamia from seven yards out and DJ Opsatnik’s kick made it 7-7 with just 1:33 left in the half.
The score didn’t stay that way long as Harrisburg went on what coach Calvin Everett said was the defining drive that changed the complexion of the game for his Cougars. “Getting that TD before the half was huge. That one, that gave us the momentum going into the break.” Harrisburg drove to the Indian eight where quarterback Yahmir Wilkerson found Parson in the flat to his right. Parsons made the catch and just plowed into the end zone with nine seconds left on the clock.
Another key moment came in the third quarter. West A was moving the ball nicely on a drive that looked to tie the score, when Kenny White got caught in the backfield. He scrambled but lost the handle on the ball 24 yards behind the line of scrimmage. It took just three plays for Dupri Andrews to make it a two score lead on a ten-yard run.
“The flood gates just opened,” said Palko. Parsons got his third TD, a 33-yard run, with 2:16 left in the third and Joel Davis got a three-yard run to cap the 21-point third period explosion. Jahmir Plant made it 42-7 to close out the scoring for the Cougars.
With 1:02 left on the clock, Bob Palko did what Palko does best, he put one of his players in the spotlight. Sr kicker DJ Opsatnik had a chance to break the state record for field goals made, and with the Indians in range he sent Opsatnik out for the 25-yard attempt. The kick cleared the uprights easily and he now owns the record at 36. “Normally we have the subs in at the point, but he deserved that. That’s what we’re here for, to promote the kids so it was an easy choice to send him in. I’m going to really miss having him here, but it’s his time to go to the next level and shine there,” said Palko. In a great show of sportsmanship, many of the Cougar players on the field high-fived, hugged and shook Opsatnik’s hand after the play when they learned it was a record breaker.
Harrisburg will go on to play Archbishop Wood for the first ever PIAA 5A title on Friday at 7 pm.
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