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Pine-Richland Rams Win Third State Championship 28-14

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Pine-Richland’s Ethan Pillar runs during the second quarter of the PIAA Class-5A State Championship Game against Imhotep Charter at Cumberland Valley High School. (Image by Jared Todhunter)

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. —The Pine-Richland Rams defeated Imhotep Charter’s Panthers in the Class-5A PIAA State Championship, 28-14, their second title in three years.

Ryan Palmieri, Pine-Richland’s Swiss Army knife who plays both quarterback and defensive back, accounted for all four Rams’ touchdowns—two rushing scores, a pass and a pick-six.

The Rams shortened the game with a heavy dose of run plays, moving the ball at will even though Imhotep knew what was coming.

Pine-Richland received the opening kickoff and burned through half the first quarter as they drove to Imhotep’s goal line. Facing fourth and inches, Palmieri lined up in the shotgun. A high snap went over his head and although Palmieri recovered the ball, he couldn’t turn the blown-up play into points. 

The Panthers marched downfield under the direction of junior quarterback Mikal Davis. Davis opened the scoring with a short pass to receiver Corey Downing, who evaded the Rams’ defense for a 52 yard touchdown, and a 7-0 lead.

Pine-Richland reeled off another long drive, one that tied the game at seven when Palmieri ran in a four yard touchdown.

Imhotep got behind the chains on their next drive and couldn’t recover. A strong punt return gave Pine-Richland the ball in Panthers territory, but a missed field goal in the waning seconds of the half sent them to the locker room tied. 

Palmieri intercepted a pass on the Panthers’ first drive out of the half and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown.

Back on offense, Palmieri connected with receiver Brad Gelly for a 37 yard pass, then ran it into the end zone for a one-yard touchdown, and a 21-7 lead.

The Rams extended their lead to 28-7 early in the fourth quarter, as Palmieri found receiver Luke Rudolph off a wheel route for a 30 yard score.

Davis pulled Imhotep to 28-14 after a one yard touchdown run with seven minutes to play.

Pine-Richland’s grinding offense put the game away, cranking out first downs as they bled the clock down. Palmieri converted a fourth-and-one with a sneak inside the Imhotep red zone, and the Rams knelt the clock out.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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