CHAMBERSBURG — Carlisle’s offense wasn’t fancy and it wasn’t razzle-dazzle.
But it was plenty effective.
The Thundering Herd rode an overpowering game by its offensive line and hard running by a pair of backs to a 21-9 Mid Penn Conference football victory over Chambersburg on Friday night at Trojan Stadium.
After Carlisle ran the ball 57 times for 436 yards — one week after Central Dauphin ran for 396 yards — it’s apparent that teams are attacking the Trojans’ young and inexperienced line and finding great success.
Herd running back Sean Smith carried the ball 28 times, picked up 239 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns. Quarterback EZ Thomas added another 21 carries for 143 yards.
Chambersburg coach Mark Luther said, “They controlled the line of scrimmage. They have some big kids and they just pounded it. We need more experience. We’re not getting many plays from our front three and the linebackers missed too many tackles”
The Herd (1-0) showed what was to come on their first drive, a 56-yard march capped by Smith’s burst through the middle for 27 yards and a score.
Two Trojan interceptions, by Malachi Scott and Jayden Jones, kept it from being worse in the first half.
In fact, Chambersburg was not in bad position, trailing 7-3 at halftime, thanks to a bizarre ending to the second quarter.
Runs of 32 and 10 yards by Thomas put the Herd at the Trojan 28 with 7.6 seconds left. Braydon Keller attempted a 35-yard field goal, but it was blocked. Chambersburg’s Tanner Luther picked up the loose ball and returned it into Carlisle territory, but was pushed out of bounds as the clock ran out.
That would have been the end of the half, but Carlisle was called for a personal foul on the play, which moved the ball to the Herd 25 and gave the Trojans an untimed play. Luther stepped up and banged in a 42-yard field goal to make it 7-3.
Whatever momentum that might have produced, however, vanished quickly in the third period. Smith ran 65 yards on the first play of the second half and later scored on a 14-yard run to put Carlisle ahead 14-3. On the next Herd possession, Thomas connected on his first pass of the night, a 15-yarder to Dylan Young on fourth-and-3, and on the next play, Keller swept in from 19 yards out for a 21-3 lead.
Coach Luther said, “Their line is much-improved. No. 24 (Smith) ran hard and got a lot of yards after contact. No. 4 (Thomas) is a very athletic individual; you can see why they’ll just go with him and let him run all over the field.”
Chambersburg’s offense finally woke up and produced its only scoring drive of the night, even overcoming a holding penalty. Blair got hot, completing 10 of 11 passes at one point. He hit Kevin Lee and James Lilley (5 catches, 48 yards) for first downs and ran for one himself. On fourth-and-5 at the Carlisle 29, Blair escaped big-time pressure and hit Sam Vessah in the end zone.
It was 21-9 with a quarter to go.
“Malaki struggled early, but he got into a good rhythm,” Luther said.
The Trojans had one more chance. They overcame a 15-yard illegal block penalty, and a 20-yard strike from Blair to Lilley put them at the Herd 15. But a false start and three incompletions ended their last chance with over seven minutes left. Carlisle ran out the clock from there, ending the game at the Chambersburg 1.
Luther said, “We did have a better effort tonight than last week. But we didn’t make enough plays. We dropped some balls and missed some open receivers and their line kept the pressure on Malaki. And we missed too many tackles, leading to long runs.”
Carlisle 21, Chambersburg 9
Carlisle 7 0 14 0 — 21
Chambersburg 0 3 6 0 — 9
Car — Sean Smith 27 run (Braydon Keller kick), 7:44
Ch — Tanner Luther 42 field goal, 0:00
Car — Smith 14 run (Keller kick), 10:16
Car — Keller 19 run (Keller kick), 4:17
Ch — Sam Vessah 29 pass from Malaki Blair (kick failed), 0:33
First downs 25 12
Rushes-yards 57-436 17-95
Passing 2-11-2 17-33-1
Passing yards 31 187
Total offense 467 282
Punts-avg. 3-39.0 5-35.0
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 3-35 5-47
Rushing — Car, Smith 28-239, EZ Thomas 21-143, Keller 7-48, Dominic Morano 1-6. Chbg, Jayden Jones 11-50, Blair 6-45.
Passing — Car, Thomas 2-11-2-31. Chbg, Blair 17-33-1-187.
Receiving — Car, Matt Trolinger 1-16, Dylan Young 1-15. Chbg, James Lilley 5-48, Nate Abbott 3-39, Jones 4-36, Kevin Lee 3-34, Vessah 1-29, Grant Hopple 1-1.
Interceptions — Car, Elijah Hargrove. Chbg, Jones, Malachi Scott.