Pine Richland Throttles Cocalico 34-12 To Advance To The 5A Championship
ALTOONA – One winning streak had to come to an end when Pine Richland and Cocalico played Friday night. Both Pine Richland and Cocalico made miraculous transformations mid-season that propelled them into the PIAA 5A Semi-Final game. Pine Richland capitalized on its opportunities and held the Cocalico running game in check all game long. The Rams earned a spot in the PIAA 5A Championship with a 34-12 victory at historic Mansion Park in Altoona.
QB Ryan Palmeri, RB Ethan Pillar, and RE Brad Gelly paced the Rams in the contest. Palmeri tossed three TD passes and had a rushing TD. Pillar was the force in the Rams’ ground attack and had a TD. Gelly had two TD receptions including a 61-yarder on the second play of the game.
Pine Richard got the opening kick and took a 7-0 lead on the second play. Palmeri hit Gelly down the middle to get things rolling for the Rams. The second Pine Richland possession was a long, time-consuming drive that Palmeri finished with an eight-yard TD run. It was 14-0 after one quarter.
Cocalico was never able to move the ball effectively in the first half. The Pine Richland defense had eight and nine men at the line of scrimmage. Effective pincer moves of the defensive ends and linebackers kept the Eagles’ running lanes clogged all night. Late in the second quarter, Pine Richland got the ball with good field position and took advantage. Palmieri was able to hit Andrew Mellis on a 17-yard TD pass to make it 21-0 at the break.
Cocalico pulled out all the stops in the third quarter to try to get back in the game. The Eagles faked a punt and it led to a TD as Josh Meyer dove in to make it 21-6 P-R. The Rams would have none of that. On the next possession, the Rams’ Ethan Pillar led the way down the field. Pillar’s one-yard run made it 28-6. And the back and forth continued in quarter three. Aaron Longenecker broke off a huge run for Cocalico to set up his short TD run. The score was 28-12 Rams as a two-pointer failed winding down quarter three.
Early in quarter four, Pine Richland iced the game. An almost identical TD pass from Palmeri to Gelly down the middle made the score 34-12. It was only a minute in. The remainder of the fourth quarter had the Pine Richland defense in control. The Rams came away with an outstanding 34-12 win and a berth in the PIAA 5A Championship game for the 2nd time in four years.
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