Balanced Ground Game Leads Pine-Richland Into PIAA Semifinals

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Pine-Richland spread the wealth and dominated on the ground in its 56-33 win against District 6 champion, State College, at Mansion Park Stadium in Altoona in the PIAA quarterfinals on Saturday.

This was the second year in a row the Rams defeated the Lions in the state playoffs, winning 49-21 in the quarterfinals a year ago.

Behind one of the top offensive lines in the state, Pine-Richland had three players rush for over 100 yards, including a 200-yard rusher on Saturday.

The Rams jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter on two touchdown runs. Sophomore quarterback Cole Spencer continued his stellar play, starting the scoring with a 3-yard run. Not used as much in the running game throughout the season, senior first-team linebacker Anthony Cerminara made a splash on offense on Saturday. Cerminara extended the lead with a 29-yard run later in the quarter.

State College cut the lead in half heading into the second quarter.

Pine-Richland scored three more times in the second quarter, including the first two scores of the quarter. Spencer found success through the air this time, connecting with sophomore Luke Miller for a 31-yard score and 21-7 lead.

Cerminara once again extended the lead, this time with a 19-yard touchdown run. The Lions responded from the two consecutive touchdowns again with one of their own, but the Rams got the last laugh before the half. Junior Luke Meckler escaped for a 55-yard score to make it 35-14 at the half.

With a big lead, the offense slowed down in the third quarter, only scoring one touchdown. The score was Cerminara’s third rushing touchdown of the game, a 1-yard run. State College responded with two touchdowns of their own to make it 42-27 entering the fourth quarter.

Meckler iced the game for the Rams with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, a 27-yard pass from Spencer and 1-yard run to finish the scoring in the game.

Sophomore Zach Waryanka was a perfect 8 for 8 on extra points for the Rams.

For Pine-Richland, Meckler finished with 207 yards. Cerminara finished with 147 yards and Spencer had 108 on the ground.

The Rams improve to 11-2 and will face District 12 champion, St. Joseph’s Prep, in the PIAA semifinals on Saturday at Mansion Park Stadium in Altoona at 1 p.m. Pine-Richland defeated St. Joseph’s Prep in the state championship game a year ago.