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State College Edges Harrisburg to Remain Undefeated

Written by: on Saturday, October 22nd, 2016. Follow Joe McCraken on Twitter.


joeweek82016The State College Little Lions narrowly defeated the Harrisburg Cougars on Friday night to maintain their perfect record. The Little Lions were down at the half, but mounted a comeback to win 35-28.

The Harrisburg offense came out firing on all cylinders, with quarterback Yahmir Wilkerson completing 48 yard touchdown pass in the first two minutes of the game. State College, on the other hand, struggled to get their offense going and faced many miscues. After being pinned down on their own six yard line by a Harrisburg punt with 6:42 left in the first, they turned to star Pete Haffner to carry them up the field. Run after run by Haffner led to a 20 yard touchdown pass from Tyler Snyder to Brandon Clark with seven seconds left in the first quarter and tied the game up at seven apiece.

Wilkerson and the Cougar offense started the second quarter much like the first, with a 45 yard bomb to receiver Shaquon Anderson-Butts followed by a quarterback sneak on the goal line for a touchdown. This gave Harrisburg a 14-7 lead with 10:12 left in the half.

Both defenses started grinding after that, and each team could not find points for the rest of the second quarter. The Little Lions attempted to tie the game on a drive late in the half, but a pass from Snyder was picked off with 3:25 left in the second, and the score remained 14-7 at the half.

State College started the second half with the ball, and became more aggressive on offense to get things moving. A bold fourth and two conversion moved it to the 15 yard line to set up another beautiful touchdown from Snyder to Clark. Jack Sheehan nailed the extra point to tie the game up at 14-14 with 7:47 left in the third. A Harrisburg fumble on the following kickoff was recovered by the Little Lions’ Tom Bucha to give his team the ball on the Cougars’ 31 yard line. “It felt good to contribute to such a close game. It made my day when I saw everyone in the stands going nuts,” said Bucha. State College stayed aggressive, attempting a fourth and one conversion on the ten yard line instead of going for the field goal. The Harrisburg defense stopped them short, however, and regained some of the momentum. The Little Lions remained solid themselves on defense, and kept giving their offense opportunities to score. A nice drive midway through the third was capped off by a short touchdown run from Haffner to give State College their first lead, 21-14 with 4:28 left in the quarter. Taking the lead energized the team, and a deep ball to Noah Woods on their next drive landed it at the Harrisburg 31 yard line. After a few more gains, the third quarter ended with Little Lions’ ball on the one yard line.

Haffner found the endzone again and punched it in on the very first play of the fourth quarter to increase the lead to 28-14. The Cougars did not back down, however. They put together a nice drive resulting in a short rushing touchdown to make it 28-21 with 9:37 left in the game. The offense got the ball back again soon after, and another perfect deep pass from Wilkerson landed it on the eleven yard line. A gorgeous fade pass to Butts tied the game at 28 with 6:46 left in the fourth, and suddenly Harrisburg had the momentum once again.

State College was forced to punt on the following drive, and the Cougars looked to score three straight touchdowns to take the lead and win the game. However, the Little Lions defense showed their strength, and defensive back Paul Olivett came up with a huge interception to give his team the ball on the Harrisburg 27 yard line. “It was great, anytime you can make a play to help your team win it feels awesome,” said Olivett.

The strategy from there on out was obvious for State College – give the ball to Haffner and let him work. His mindset was simple and focused as well. “I was just thinking about scoring and then stopping them on the proceeding drive to get the dub,” said Haffner. Several rushes by the captain wound down the clock, and he powered his way into the endzone on third and goal from the one with 1:38 left in the game. Haffner’s third touchdown of the game gave his team a 35-28 lead. Haffner, who also leads the defense at his linebacker position, said, “I think doing well on one side of the ball really gets me fired up and I do better on the other side, which builds on itself.” Harrisburg used their speed to return the ball all the way to the 49 yard line. A couple of first downs put them in position to score, and put everyone on the edges of their seats, but the resilient Little Lions defense came up with one last stop as the clock ran out to complete the 35-28 victory.

State College moves to an perfect 8-0 record, while Harrisburg drops to 5-3.

And now, a little love for the Bands of Harrisburg and State College who put on GREAT halftime shows

The marching Cougars

The Little Lion Band

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