By Andy Shay:
Nothing like a little late-game drama in Hershey to kick off the 2020 Mid-Penn Conference football season.
Trailing visiting Red Land by a touchdown and getting blanked in the first half, Hershey dominated the final 24 minutes in every phase to nudge past the Patriots Friday night.
Senior kicker Joey Corado drilled a 22-yard field goal with only 10 seconds remaining to vault Hershey past Red Land 10-7.
Before paying a visit to the Trojans’ memorable final drive that set up Corado’s field goal, the biggest difference in the second half was Hershey’s defense.
Both defenses were the stars of the game, but after getting shoved around a bit in the first half, Hershey’s D slammed the door the final two quarters and limited Red Land to only 46 total yards.
And just before the Hershey offense put together its best drive of the game at the exact right time — a 14-play, 68-yard march that chewed up nearly seven minutes of the fourth-quarter clock — the Trojans’ defense had to come up with a stand to set the table.
Red Land blocked a punt on the final play of the third quarter and set up shop at its own 45-yard line entering the final 12 minutes of a 7-7 game.
The Patriots used a nifty middle screen from quarterback Landon Henline to wideout Trey Slayton that covered 11 yards on third-and-8. It gave Red Land a fresh set of downs at the Hershey 30-yard line.
Four snaps and only 3 yards later, the Hershey defense had turned the ball over on downs back to the Trojans’ offense with 7:04 to play.
Red Land’s offense didn’t step back onto the field again until the final snap of the game.
Hershey mixed up its running game with some pounding inside the tackles coupled with some work on the edge. And it was clear as the march to victory progressed, the Patriots defense that had been stellar all game was running out of gas in the tank.
Junior running back Jaquan Barrier had 31 yards on his five carries to keep the chains moving, and the Trojans hit one chunk play covering 25 yards when Owen Weaber went up and snared a Jackson Bouslough pass that moved Hershey to Red Land’s 31-yard line.
It wasn’t a clean drive by any stretch of the imagination. Aaryn Koperna fumbled inside the 20 after a short gain, but one of his mates up front found the free ball.
Koperna later appeared to score on a 5-yard plunge with 1:50 to play, but the touchdown was wiped out on a holding call.
Hershey milked the clock meticulously, piled on 10 yards on three more rushes and moved the ball before sending in Corado to win it.
Caleb Strawser’s snap was true, the hold by Davey Loyd was executed to perfection and Corado’s kick was never in doubt the minute he struck it.
Red Land took a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter when Dylan Rodenhaber, who finished with a game-high 86 yards on 20 carries, galloped into the end zone from 9 yards out.
The Patriots were clearly the better team the first half offensively. Red Land had 125 yards at intermission to only 59 for Hershey. Neither squad was lighting it up, but getting a first down was tough for Hershey.
To start the second half, Red Land made the decision to try an onsides kick. It was a curious call in a 7-0 game. And it backfired big-time.
The ball failed to travel the required 10 yards and Hershey took over near midfield, seized the momentum and never relinquished it.
Hershey traveled 49 yards in eight plays following the failed onsides kick. Nathan Lopez, who had a monster game on defense, capped the drive with a 1-yard dive to forge a 7-7 deadlock.
Red Land never really recovered. The offense ran only 16 more plays the rest of the game and managed just three first downs and 46 yards.
TROJANS 10, PATRIOTS 7
Red Land 0 7 0 0 – 7
Hershey 0 0 7 3 – 10
RL-Dylan Rodenhaber 9 run (Gavin Felciano kick), 10:27
H-Nathan Lopez 1 run (Joey Corado kick), 7:40
H-FG Corado 22, :10
Team Statistics RL H
First downs 8 11
Rushes-yards 28-91 34-135
C-A-I 8-17-1 3-11-0
Passing yards 80 75
Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-1
Punts-avg. 7-40.4 5-39.4
Penalties-yards 7-66 8-75
RUSHING: Red Land, Dylan Rodenhaber 20-86; Landon Henline 4-(-9); Adrien Oritz 1-3; Parker Lawler 1-8; Robert Rodgers 2-3. Hershey, Jaquan Berrier 9-54; Galvin Paniagua 6-28; Nathan Lopez 6-28; Aaryn Koperna 4-19; Jackson Bouslough 9-6.
PASSING: Red Land, Henline 8-17-1-80. Hershey, Bouslough 3-10-0-75; Owen Weaber 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING: Red Land, Garrett Hodges 2-21; Lawler 3-33; Sam Sklar 1-15; Rodgers 1-0. Hershey, Joey Corado 2-50; Weaber 1-25.