GIBSONIA, Pa. — The Pine-Richland Rams handed the Central Catholic Vikings their first loss of the season, 26-19, on Friday with a dominant rushing attack.
Running back Ethan Pillar rushed for over 300 yards, setting a school record in the process, helping Pine-Richland dominate the pace of play out of the wildcat formation against a talented Vikings’ defense. Central Catholic’s offense, meanwhile, had no time to find any sort of rhythm.
For every miscue the Vikings made, the Rams were there to capitalize on it, all the way to a nail-biting finish.
Vikings’ defensive back Jacob Sassic picked off Pine-Richland’s first pass attempt of the game, returning it for a touchdown. A Rams’ penalty on the play spurred the Vikings to go for two, but the try failed.
The Rams rebounded with a grinding eight-minute drive that ate up most of the first quarter, capped with a nine-yard touchdown carry from Pillar. Central Catholic scored just 31 seconds later, going up 13-7 on a 42-yard touchdown pass from Payton Wehner to Sassic.
Rams’ linebacker Sam Heckert blocked a Vikings’ field goal attempt midway through the second quarter, and Pine-Richland regained the lead with another touchdown tote from Pillar.
Central Catholic responded by marching down the field, but the Rams’ defense stymied them in the red zone once again. A 31-yard field goal gave the Vikings a 16-14 lead heading into the half.
Pine-Richland recovered a Vikings fumble two plays into the third quarter. Pillar fumbled on the ensuing drive, but the Rams managed to recover the loose ball, setting up a third-and-long. Running back Talan Hill-Ressler capitalized on the second chance, putting the Rams up 20-16 with a 37-yard tote.
Wehner and Sassic barely missed connecting on what would’ve been a long touchdown during the following drive. Instead, Central punted the ball away.
Pillar responded with a 46-yard carry and a three-yard touchdown run, giving the Rams a 26-16 lead. Pine-Richland recovered a Vikings’ fumble near midfield, but Central Catholic forced a three-and-out to stay in the game.
A Vikings’ field goal closed the gap to seven with ten minutes to play. The Rams ate up most of that time with a measured drive, but missed a field goal to give Central Catholic life.
The Vikings couldn’t do anything with that chance, turning the ball over on downs before Pine-Richland ran out the clock.
Central Catholic (6-1) will host Penn Hills on Friday, October 13. Pine-Richland (4-3) will host Shaler that same day.