Tyrone entered Friday night’s playoff game with intentions of proving last year’s state title appearance was no fluke.
The Golden Eagles took a step in that direction, treating their home crowd to a 14-7 win over feisty challenger Cambria Heights.
Both teams entered the game at 7-3, but came from much different history. Cambria Heights hadn’t made the playoffs since 1998, when current head coach Jarrod Lewis was a sophomore on the team.
Tyrone won the state title in 1999, and as previously mentioned, came up just one win short of another championship last year.
The first half was dominated by both defenses. Both Tyrone and Cambria Heights each only mustered five first downs in the initial two quarters.
Cambria Heights moved the ball well on their opening drive, but could not come up with any points. The ball got as close as the Golden Eagles’ 15-yard line.
But after two straight false start penalties, Highlanders’ quarterback Nathan Bearer was intercepted by Tyrone’s Corey Snyder.
Bearer would later respond with an interception on defense. He picked off Tyrone’s quarterback, Erik Wagner. That halted a threatening Golden Eagles’ drive.
The score at halftime was 0-0.
Tyrone’s record setting halfback, junior James Oliver, was held to just 45 yards on 10 first half carries. Oliver got going in the second half, though.
Late in the third quarter, Oliver helped lead a scoring drive that put his team up, 7-0. Wagner finished the series with a 2 yard run touchdown run.
Tyrone fumbled on a potential game-sealing drive, which gave Heights great field position. The Highlanders scored five plays later on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Bearer to Andrew Brawley.
The score was suddenly 7-7.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Golden Eagles returned the ball to their own 48 yard line. Oliver did the rest, and scored with a 52-yard touchdown run on the very next play.
Tyrone was back on top, 14-7.
Cambria Heights used a
48-yard pass from Bearer to Brawley on the next drive to get back into scoring position. Three plays later, the Golden Eagles’ Josh Fetters intercepted Bearer for a second time, ending the Highlander threat.
Nathan Bearer threw for 129 yards and the touchdown to Brawley, but his three interceptions stopped three drives in Tyrone territory. Senior Tyler Crawford ran well, picking up 85 yards on his 23 carries, and also catching a pass for 13 yards.
Heights’ head coach Jarrod Lewis said, “We played well today. It’s a shame somebody had to lose this game. I’m proud of the seniors and what everybody did for this program going forward.”
Tyrone’s James Oliver started slow, but finished with an impressive 185 yards on 24 carries to go along with his touchdown. Corey Snyder had 36 total yards and an interception on defense for the Golden Eagles as well.
Tyrone, now 8-3, will take on Richland (11-0) in next week’s D6 AA semifinal.
When asked about next week’s game plan, head coach Steve Guthoff said, “Tomorrow we’re going to try and come up with something. I just watched them last night, and they’re good.”