ERIE, Pa. – Cathedral Prep turned in a near-perfect performance against Hollidaysburg in their PIAA Class 5A first round game on Friday at Dollinger Field.
A blocked punt that got returned for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter prevented a Rambler shutout in what was otherwise a dominant effort in a 33-7 win.
“I hate the fact that we blew the shutout with the blocked punt at the end, but things happen,” said Cathedral Prep coach Mike Mischler, who remained perfect in first-round state playoff games. “We didn’t play our best last week (a 24-6 loss to McDowell in the regular season finale) and we wanted to put together a great effort tonight and I thought we did that.”
The defense was dominant and on offense, a strong running game early opened up the passing game.
Of course, having a healthy Jaheim Williams helps.
Williams, a Duquesne commit who was coming off an ankle injury, was all over the field, scoring a pair of rushing touchdowns and adding an interception on defense.
“Everybody did their job, no matter what,” Williams said. “We had a job and we did it 100 percent.”
Leading 3-0 after a Cole Constable field goal, the Rambler (5-2) offense came to life in the second quarter.
A 44-yard run by Michael Parks and a couple tough runs up the middle from Williams set up a Tamar Sample to DeMario Crawford 8-yard touchdown, and the Ramblers were just getting started.
The Ramblers next offensive possession stalled, but a 56-yard punt by Sample was downed at the 1-yard line, and the defense, which was stingy all night, turned that into points.
A host of Prep defenders converged on Hollidaysburg’s (4-3) Gage Shawley in the end zone for a safety with 6:13 to go in the half.
“I thought Wayne Bradford and the defensive staff had a nice game plan,” Mischler said. “We knew their quarterback (Bryce Martellacci) was an incredibly good player. We wanted to make sure we didn’t let him get outside the pocket and also we did a really nice job covering their guys. Overall it was a great defensive effort.”
They certainly contained Martellacci , as he was held to just 19 yards rushing and completed just 7-of-20 passes for 37 yards.
The ensuing free kick after the safety led to a short 45-yard field, which Williams capped off with an 18-yard touchdown run.
“Jaheim is a great kid, a great leader,” Mischler said. “Mike Parks has done a great job all year running the ball for us. Jaheim brings us a whole different look. He’s a hard kid to bring down. He gives us a short-yard back, but as you saw tonight he can also break it. He hits the holes and makes nice reads.”
He was also a force on defense, intercepting Martellacci on the opening drive of the second half.
“Defensively, obviously it’s outstanding having him out there,” Mischler said. “He’s a force in the middle.”
The Rambler defense, led by Williams, John David Campbell (who had a sack), and others, had their way with the Golden Tigers, limiting them to just 81 yards of offense for the game.
Sample did throw an interception, but was otherwise sharp at quarterback, throwing a 40-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Fortin in the third quarter on a great double move by the receiver.
“That was a great job,” noted Mischler. “We just kind of threw that in on the spot (double move). They were biting up on our quick screens. We got them to bite, Tamar threw a ball that was catchable and we came down with it and were able to score a touchdown. For us that was a huge play.”
Williams put the finishing touches on his night with a 3-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
The beneficiary of the blocked punt late in the game was Rocco Grassi, who returned it 54 yards for a touchdown with 1:59 to play.
Sample finished his night with 124 yards and the two touchdown passes, while Parks had 91 yards on the ground and Williams 79.
With the win, the Ramblers move on to play Wyoming Valley West in the PIAA quarterfinals next week.
“Hollidaysburg is a well-coached team,” Mischler said of the Golden Tigers and head coach Homer DeLattre, who is the former Corry head coach. “They do a great job over there. There are guys I really respect over on the other side of the ball. It’s nice to come out here with a win and know we’re playing again next week.”
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Hollidaysburg 0 0 0 7 – 7
Cathedral Prep 3 16 7 7 – 33
C – Cole Constable 21 field goal, 5:12
C – Damario Crawford 9 pass from Tamar Sample (Constable kick) 9:21
C – Safety, 6:13
C – Jaheim Williams 18 run (Constable kick), 3:21
C – Patrick Fortin 40 pass from Tamar Sample (Constable kick), 3:50
C – Williams 2 run (Constable kick), 11:12
H – Rocco Grossi 53 blocked punt return (Ben Sosnowski kick), 1:59
First Downs 5 25
Rushes-Yards 24-44 45-294
Passing Yards 37 131
Comp-Att-Int 7-20-1 14-23-1
Total Yards 81 425
Penalties-Yards 9-65 8-50
Hollidaysburg: Bryce Martellacci 11-18, Xavier Baney 8-15, Gage Shawley 5-11; Cathedral Prep – Michael Parks 12-91, Jaheim Williams 12-79, Tamar Sample 9-63, Jyree Roberts 3-34, Daniel Liebel 1-9, DaMario Crawford 2-10, Nolan Lynch 6-8
Hollidaysburg: Bryce Martellacci 7-of-20, 37 yards, 1 INT; Cathedral Prep – Tamar Sample 13-of-20, 131 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT; Levonne Rowan 1-of-3, 6 yards
Hollidaysburg: DeShawn Moss 2-15, Evan Brozenich 1-14, Avery Sloan 2-9, Gage Shawley 1-5, Xavier Bainey 1-(minus)6; Cathedral Prep: X’Zonder Goodwin 5-63, Patrick Fortin 2-40, DeMario Crawford 2-17, Maurice Troop 2-9, Jaheem Rash 1-6, Michael Parks 2-2