by Malik Vincent
The quest for a City League team to advance in the PIAA (Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association) football playoffs was unsuccessful, again, this year.
State College, the winners of District VI, for the second year in a row defeated the City League champs, District VII, by knocking off USO (University Prep, Sci-Tech, and Obama), 33-32 on Nov 26 at Mansion Park Stadium in Altoona.
“It was our goal to be able to represent the city well and finally get that win in States,” USO Coach Lou Berry said. “We weren’t quite able to get that accomplished, unfortunately.”
The Panthers (11-2) came from behind to take a 3-point lead with 33 seconds left in the game.
But State College’s kicker, Josh Clothiaux, was a thorn in their side as his offense set him up for a 25-yard game tying field goal in the closing seconds of regulation.
When the game reached overtime, USO’s leader Jaylen Coleman, scored on a 1-yard run—for his second touchdown of the game. He finished with over 200 yards on the ground.
“This season was a season to remember,” Coleman said. “I love my team.”
Then State College running back Jack Haffner came back and put his Little Lions on top with a 6-yard score in the extra period. He played a big role in their victory last year to knock off last year’s champs Perry. In this game, like Coleman, he eclipsed the 200 yard mark.
But it would be the foot of Clothiaux that would send his team to victory on the ensuing extra point.
“There were so many opportunities for us to win this game,” Berry said. “We missed a chance for a turnover in that last drive and they were somehow able to get in position to score.”
It took 26 seconds on a pass play and two Haffner rushes in that final drive in regulation for the Little Lions to drive 55 yards all the way to the USO 8 yard line.
“There were some issues with the clock operator all game. I don’t see how it was possible for them to drive 55 yards in 26 seconds. But that’s just me.”
The loss was USO’s first since going down to league foe Brashear in the City opener in September. They’d finish out their conference schedule and the playoffs after that, without even surrendering a single point.
“We fell a little short in our journey,” Berry said. “But I’m so humbled and impressed by the success of these young men and how they fought for one another, as brothers, this year.”
State College will take on the Quad-A champs of the WPIAL, North Allegheny next week in Altoona.
Oliver (3-8) was the City’s Double-A representative in the PIAA’s and lost to Moniteau, 39-12, at Cupples Stadium on Nov. 25.
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(Malik Vincent can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @malikvincent.)