ALTOONA, Pa. — The Pine-Richland Rams and the Cocalico Eagles met at Mansion Park for a state-playoff matchup that would send the winner to the Class 5A PIAA championship game. Both teams come in with similar seasons as both struggled early on and have looked dominant as of late. The Rams are winners of their last 10 games, as the Eagles have won seven in a row. The Rams dominated the Eagles 34-12.
The Rams received the opening kickoff and did not waste any time in scoring with Ryan Palmieri throwing a 71-yard strike to Brad Gelly.
On their next offensive drive, the Rams scored again when Palmieri rumbled his way into the endzone for an 8-yard touchdown that pushed the lead to 14-0.
Down two touchdowns early in the second quarter, Cocalico managed to drive the ball into the Rams’ territory only to turn the ball over on downs.
The Rams made the Eagles pay for their mistake as Andrew Mellis hauled in a 17-yard one-handed touchdown catch late in the second quarter. The score at halftime was 21-0.
The Rams attempted to go for the “knockout punch” to begin the third quarter as they attempted an onside kick that was unsuccessful. The Eagles made the most of their opportunity as they scored on a 1-yard scramble from Joshua Myer.
On the Rams’ next drive, Ethan Pillar ruined the Eagles’ momentum as he busted off a 64-yard run that set himself up for a 1-yard touchdown run. This score extended the Rams’ lead to 28-6.
The Eagles’ Aaryn Longennecker answered with a huge 82-yard run of his own to set the Eagles up within the Rams’ 5-yard line. Longenecker later scored on a 4-yard run to the outside to help cut the deficit to 28-12.
As momentum began to shift in Cocalico’s favor, Palmieri threw another long touchdown to push the score to 34-12. This score ended Cocalico’s chances of coming back.
The Rams will play the winner of Upper Dublin and Imhotep Charter at Cumberland Valley High School for the Class-5A PIAA title next Friday night.