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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Sunday Morning QB: Northern keeps its Colonial Division title hopes alive; ‘Hanna continues its rebound; Gettysburg continues to roll; Colts kicker Derek Witmer proves clutch and more

You play to win the game and live with the result. East Pennsboro was locked in a double-overtime thriller with Northern in one of several Crazy Colonial Division contests in Week 7 of the Mid-Penn Conference slate.

Full plaudits to the Panthers and head coach John Denniston for taking a crack to seal the result in the second overtime. It was unsuccessful, and the Polar Bears walked away from George R. Saxton Memorial Field with a 28-27 victory.

Northern, which dominated offensively but lost the turnover battle 3-1 and had nine penalties, scored first in the second extra session from 10 yards out and kicked. That’s exactly what you do when the first crack is yours. East Penn scored right away on an Aaron Angelo 10-yard run. The two-point pass from QB Dakota Campbell fell incomplete to seal the defeat.

Overtime was needed because of Northern’s bruising running back Cole Bartram and his 232 rushing yards on 31 carries with a pair of touchdowns. He’s a true power workhorse for this squad.

It was huge for Northern because it keeps the Polar Bears in the massive chase for the Colonial Division crown. Gettysburg is top of the table with an unblemished 4-0 mark, followed by one-loss Northern and Shippensburg. Susquehanna Township and Mechanicsburg are all on the fringe with a 2-2 division mark.

Good to see the Hanna Tribe back in the mix. This has been a stellar rebound for the Indians after an abysmal 2021. Joe Headen’s crew is 4-3 overall after using a trio of big plays to overpower Greencastle-Antrim for its second consecutive victory. Three touchdowns covering 50 or more yards, two by zippy WR Lex Cyrus and a 60-yard gallop by Dorian Smith was the difference-maker.

Shippensburg kept its goal to repeat as Colonial champions on life support after rallying from a 10-0 deficit to slide past defensive-minded Mechanicsburg 14-0. A pair of Tucker Chamberlin touchdown passes was the difference. The Wildcats dropped to 2-5 overall but are in every single game thanks to a defense that surrenders 17 points a game. Most squads that boast that stern of a defensive test would be 5-2 instead of the other way around.

Gettysburg still hasn’t tasted defeat to a Mid-Penn Conference squad in this the Warriors’ return to the lesgue. The leading rusher in the conference, Jayden Johnson, inched closer to a 1,000-yard season with 107 yards and a touchdown in a workmanlike 21-10 triumph over Waynesboro. Gettysburg QB Grady Heiser was a dual-threat beast with nearly 300 total yards (243 passing, 55 rushing) and a couple touchdowns. Gettysburg isn’t built to blow teams out, but with their sneaky good defense they are a difficult team to beat.

We can argue for days over this, but in my opinion the hardest position to be really good at in high school football is the kicker. It’s such a mixed bag of pressure, expectations and opportunity to really impact a game. I’ve seen so many highs and lows that involve kickers over three decades, it’s the position that I have a soft spot for.

That is why when you see a kicker win a game — especially after a miss to win it less than a minute earlier — in the dying seconds, it’s just magic. And when it’s from 43 yards out with the wind swirling … well that’s just the cherry on top.

Cedar Cliff kicker Derek Witmer saw his first chance to kick his team into the lead doink off the crossbar from a longer distance. When given another opportunity some 20 seconds later from 43 yards out, he drilled it home with two seconds on the clock to lift the Colts past Lower Dauphin 24-21. There’s a ton that happens before that seminole moment, but that quickly becomes irrelevant when a single game comes down to one kick. That’s why the kicker’s job is the most difficult.

Cumberland Valley’s resurgence continued with a two-score win over Central Dauphin at Landis Field. The Eagles led 21-0 at halftime and the hard work to salt this one away was done. The Rams are now 2-5 overall and lost to CV for the second consecutive year. QB Isaac Sines is a live-wire weapon for the Eagles who is tough to handle. Several times it appeared CD’s defense had him in a bad spot, and his athleticism and speed allowed him to escape.

The senior piled up 183 yards through the air and added 124 on the ground with three total touchdowns to make sure the Rams’ much better second half didn’t spoil the Eagles’ dominance in the first two quarters. Despite their record, it is very clear the Rams are a team that is vastly improved and will be a tough out down the stretch.

State College started sluggishly at home against an up-and-down Carlisle squad after falling behind 10-0 early. But 49 of the next 59 points belonged to the undefeated Little Lions. The highlight was lineman Michael Dincher picking up a fumble and returning it for a touchdown. Nothing tops a large human rumbling for a touchdown, especially when that big man checks in at 6-foot-2 and 300 pounds.

Altoona rallied very late, scoring a pair of touchdowns in the final five minutes, to beat a Chambersburg Trojans side that has dropped four straight. RB Alexander Yost’s 1-yard run with 21 ticks remaining was the difference-maker on the scoreboard in a 27-23 victory. 

Undefeated West Perry — yes, the Mustangs — remain perfect after seven weeks. They were in a scrap with Big Spring entering the fourth quarter clinging to a three-point lead. A couple touchdowns in the final 12 minutes sealed the deal, and for only the third time in program history West Perry is 7-0. QB Marcus Quaker’s 302 total yards and three touchdowns proved handy.

Bishop McDevitt continued its late-season assault on the rest of the Keystone Division by flying past Hershey 70-0. QB Stone Saunders threw for 275 yards and four scores, WR Rico Scott had six catches for 75 yards and a couple scores, two of three catches Jeff Penn made went for touchdowns and Jaire Rawlison had a 95-yard pick-6. The Crusaders average 51 points a game!

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