STATE COLLEGE — Despite having nothing to play for except pride, and despite having 10 starters out of the lineup due to injury, the Chambersburg football team played one of its most inspiring games of the season Friday night.
For much of the game, the Trojans outplayed heavily-favored State College and had a chance to halt an 0-for-19 losing streak against the Little Lions.
But State College scored the winning touchdown with a short field after a good punt return with 2 minutes remaining to stave off Chambersburg, 21-14, in a Mid Penn Commonwealth game at Memorial Field.
“If we were at full strength, I believe we would win that game,” Trojan coach Mark Luther said. “Any football team at any level that has 10 starters out is in trouble.”
Chambersburg’s Evan Brown, who had an interception, said, “We had people ready to step up. We kept it close and our confidence grew as the game went on.”
It certainly did not start auspiciously for the Trojans, who finish with a 4-6 record (2-5 MPC).
State College’s first possession resulted in a touchdown, with Eddie Corkery throwing a 35-yard touchdown pass to Ty Salazar.
The end of the Little Lions’ second series ended with John Zipf punting to the Chambersburg 1. On second down, QB Riley Harmon tried to hit Jermere Jones down the left sideline, but the pass was underthrown and Adison Dillon stepped in front and strolled into the end zone for a pick six.
Suddenly it was 14-0. In other years, State College (7-3, 5-2 MPC) might have put the pedal down and rout their opponents. Instead, Chambersburg discovered it could hang with the Little Lions, and upped their game.
Luther said, “I think there in the second quarter when we held them to a field goal try and they missed, that’s about when the defense started to believe that we could stop them. The defense started it, and it carried over to the offense. I was curious to see how we responded to that 14-0 hole, and we did well.”
Receiver/LB Jermere Jones said, “Our confidence grew. Guys were screaming and yelling and we were getting hyped, and pushing guys around. And the coaches called some beautiful plays.”
Had the Trojans been able to cash in on some threats in the first half, things may have turned out different. Chambersburg went for it on fourth down four times in the half and were 0-for-4.
Late in the third quarter, the offense took advantage of good field position (SC 48) after a punt. Antonio Harrison — who ran 21 times for 132 yards (the best game by a Trojan RB this season) rushed for 20 yards, Harmon hit Luther for 19 yards and then flipped a pass to Jones, who high-pointed the ball in the end zone from 3 yards out to score a touchdown.
The next time Chambersburg got its hands on the ball, it scored again. Harrison had runs of 10, 20 and 11 yards, the latter for a TD, and the score was tied, 14-14.
Harrison said, “I knew this was my last game with this group and I wanted to contribute. We had nothing to lose. We’d been putting in a lot of practice using more rollout stuff to get the offense going and it worked.”
Later in the fourth period, the Little Lions punted and had the Trojans backed up on their 10. They went 3-and-out, and after a good punt return, State College began a drive at the Chambersburg 16.
Owen Yurka took over at QB and scored from 7 yards out, despite SC getting called for two penalties on the drive. That made it 21-14 with 2:00 left.
Chambersburg put together a nice drive that netted three first downs — all on passes from Harmon to Luther (8 catches, 106 yards) — and reached the Little Lion 39 with 1:08 remaining. But Harmon’s next pass flew over Luther’s head and was picked off by Cooper Brushwood to seal the win.
Coach Luther said, “That was a helluva football game. The kids put a lot of emotion into it.”
NOTES: The Trojans turned the ball over 4 times (Harmon with a lost fumble and 3 interceptions) and SC had just one … Harmon did connect on 21 of 30 passes for 198 yards … Harrison became the first running back for Chambersburg to go over 100 yards in a game this year … SC had 11 penalties for 87 yards … The Trojans totaled 330 yards to 203 for State College.
State College 21, Chambersburg 14
Chambersburg 0 0 7 7 — 14
State College 14 0 0 7 — 21
SC — Ty Salazar 35 pass from Eddie Corkery (John Zipf kick), 9:27
SC — Adison Dillon 17 interception return (Zipf kick), 1:40
Ch — Jermere Jones 3 pass from Riley Harmon (Trever Luther kick), 2:28
Ch — Antonio Harrison 11 run (Luther kick), 10:57
SC — Owen Yurka 7 run (Zipf kick), 2:00
First downs 16 11
Rushes-yards 34-132 31-129
Passing 21-30-3 7-14-1
Passing yards 198 74
Total offense 330 203
Fumbles-lost 1-1 0-0
Punts-average 2-50.0 6-34.2
Penalties-yards 4-40 11-87
Rushing — Chbg, Harrison 21-132, Dayre Senft 1-8, Imani Watson 1-8, Jones 1-1, Harmon 9-(-17). SC, D’Antae Sheffey 22-70, Yurka 6-42, Corkery 3-17.
Passing — Chbg, Riley Harmon 31-30-3-198. SC, Corkery 7-14-1-74, Yurka 0-1-0-0.
Receiving — Chbg, Luther 8-106, Rhaigeon Parker 7-56, Jones 3-16, Harrison 1-8, Senft 1-8, Jake Folmar 1-4. SC, Salazar 3-52, Diamear Coad 1-12, Sheffey 3-10.
Missed field goal — Zipf 41 (wide right).
Interceptions — Chbg, Evan Brown. SC, Cooper Brushwood 2, Dillon.