Bulldogs run home with win over Little Lions
Written by: Billy Splain on Saturday, September 14th, 2013
State College honored its 1973 State Championship team before its game between the Little Lions and the 3 time defending West Virginia AAA state champion Martinsburg Bulldogs. The players didn’t disappoint the former champs, and as Anthony Paffie-Misher sat on the ground in the back of the endzone looking up at the referees hoping for a pass interference call, one couldn’t help but think: “what if he DID catch that pass?” The obvious answer would be State College wouldn’t have lost to the Bulldogs 35-29. But realistically it would have been just one more amazing play in a game filled with huge plays. And big plays were the name of the game from the opening whistle.
State College held Martinsburg to 3 plays on the first series of the game, forcing a punt that gave the Little Lions the ball at their own 40. Senior quarterback Patrick Irwin took his first snap of the game and went straight through the middle of the line and never looked back. Sixty yards. Kevin Cramer kicked the extra point and just like that the Little Lions led 7-0.
To steal a line from Lee Corso, “not so fast kimosabe.” On the ensuing kickoff Malique Watkins, who happens to be the Bulldog quarterback, fielded the kick and raced 62 yards setting up Martinsburg at the Little Lion 18 yard line. 3 plays later Watkins scored from 6 yards out and the kick after tied the game at 7. “When you put great athletes on the field you’re going to get great plays from time to time” said Little Lion head coach Al Wolski.
After trading interceptions Lindsay added his own big play. With the ball at the State College 39 the junior running back scampered 39 yards to the endzone. One play, 7 more points and the Bulldogs took the lead 14-7.
Hold on to that thought for 12 seconds. That’s how long it took for State College to answer. Jordan Misher took the kick at his 19 and thanks to a crushing sideline block by Ben Roeshot, who also had 9 tackles and the 1st quarter interception, Misher raced the length of the field. The sophomore also added a rushing td in addition to a key interception later in the game.
Following a 31 yard touchdown run from Watkins it appeared the Bulldogs were about to take control. Watkins hit receiver Troy Lee for a 62 yard gain to the Little Lions 15. Eric Brown mishandled the next hand off and State College’s Jake Knouse pounced on the ball. Knouse had 7 tackles in addition to the recovery. The Little Lions went on a 5 minute/12 play drive that ended with a 36 yard field goal by Gray. Irwin led the drive with a great display of running and passing, connecting twice with Dave White and twice with Jordan Misher. The Little Lion signal caller ended the night 13-for-24 with 146 yards and a score in the air. He added 18 carries for 132 and another score. The halftime score was 21-17 in favor of the visitors.
Both teams picked up where they left off in the second half. Following a surprise onside kick which the Bulldogs recovered, Watkins marched his team 47 yards to give the Bulldogs a 28-17 lead. Watkins numbers for the game read like this: 10 of 16 in the air for 145 yards and 1 td. His rushing numbers were equally impressive, 21 carries for 150 yard and 2 tds. “He’s a great athlete, we knew he could run. He’s got excellent cutting ability and the speed” said Wolski.
Irwin wasn’t about to be upstaged. “I think we found some team leaders tonight, found an identity we’ve been looking for this season” Wolski added. Irwin and Paffie-Misher led the Lions on another long scoring drive, this one 14 plays eating up over 7 minutes of the third quarter. The senior qb ran 8 times for 47 yards and completed 2 passes to put his team on the 2. Paffie-Misher scored from there and State College was right back in it cutting the deficit to 5. The point after failed as Irwin missed on connecting with his receiver to try to make it a 3 point game.
Paffie-Misher wasn’t done. With just over 8 minutes remaining in the game Walker lofted the ball down field trying to connect with Dylan Smith-Brooks. Misher lept in front of the receiver and snagged the pass away at the 20. Irwin connected with Paffie-Misher for a 16 yard scoring strike and for the first time in the game State College had the lead 29-28. Irwin tried running for the 2 point conversion but was stopped just short of the goal line.
The State College defense held on the next series, however, the offense wasn’t able to close out the remaining 3:28. The Little Lions were forced to punt with just over a minute remaining in the game. It’s a play they’d probably like to have back. The kick was a line drive straight into the hands of Walker at his 30 and he burst through the coverage for a 40 yard return giving his team one more chance with 57 seconds on the clock. He didn’t need that much time. After carrying the ball for a 12 yard gain Walker hit a wide open Tory Lee for the game winner.
“I was real scared there for a minute, it was the closest game I’ve ever been in and we haven’t lost a game in like 3 years” said the Martinsburg qb. “We ran that option play all night but this was the first time we threw out of it” he said of the winning play.
State had one last shot but Paffie-Misher was contacted going up for the ball in the endzone and couldn’t make the play as the clock expired.
State College returns to conference play next week at Harrisburg.
“We’ve been there before” said Bulldog head coach Dave Walker. He was speaking of being in close games, something his team had seen in its previous two games. “It adds character, you’re going to have moments that lend adversity to your team.”
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