With star running back Andre Robinson on crutches on the Memorial Field sidelines, Bishop McDevitt quarterback Nick Marsilio figured he might have the throw the ball a little bit more than usual against State College on Friday.
Marsilio and his stellar cast of receivers picked up the slack, accounting for 285 yards and two scores as the Crusaders knocked off the Little Lions 34-14.
“I knew we were going to have to switch it up and throw the ball a lot more,” said Marsilio, who went 22 of 27 and hit Kobay White for a pair of scores . “I’ve got great receivers. All four of them are going to have great futures and my line stepped up and did great pass blocking.”
After being picked off by State College’s Nathan King on the first drive of the game, Marsilio connected on his next 14 attempts.
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“That’s why he was first team all-state and why he’s a Division I football player,” McDevitt coach Jeff Weachter said. “We expect those things out of him. He understands where to go with the football.”
State College (1-1) trailed 20-7 at the half and went more than a period without a first down before making a game of it late in the third quarter.
John Weakland hit Kellin Valentine with an eight-yard pass on third down to end the drought and State College got going. Jordan Misher busted off a 36-yard run and Weakland had a 15-yard scramble to get the Little Lions close. Misher capped the 71-march by sweeping around the right side and diving into the end zone to cut the McDevitt lead to 20-14 with 2:15 left in the third quarter.
But just four plays later, the margin was once again 13 points.
Marsilio hit White for 21 yards and Bryce Hall for 37 to set up Que’Shawn Jenkins’ 18-yard rumble as he pulled away from King at the goal line.
“It gave us the momentum right back,” Marsilio said. “It basically ended the game.”
“You could feel the momentum shift,” State College coach Mike Lintal said of when his team got to within six. “Our kids were believing and ready to go. That next drive was critical for them. You’ve got to give a lot of credit to McDevitt — they put it together when they had to. That kind of took the wind out of our sails.”
Weachter, whose team has played for the PIAA Class AAA title the past two seasons, said making big plays is nothing new.
“It was huge, but our guys have played in a lot of big games,” he said of the key drive. “... We were down 42-28 last year in the Western finals to Erie Cathedral Prep and came back to win the game. We know with the weapons we have, we’re never out of a game.”
State College got off to a blazing start, thanks to King’s interception and Misher’s running. After State College took over at its 26, Misher sliced through the McDevitt defense on carries of 13, 22, 16, 6, 13 and 3 yards to set up Weakland’s sneak for a score to give the Little Lions a 7-0 lead.
But after that drive, McDevitt moved seven and eight players into the box daring the Little Lions to pass. Misher carried the ball just twice for the rest of the half, gaining two yards, and State College’s receivers couldn’t work free.
“We were trying to take advantage of some other things,” Lintal said of Misher’s limited carries for the rest of the half. “Obviously, they have some pretty talented corners that they lined up out there. With them bringing a lot of pressure, it was tough to get free in a short amount of time.”
Marsilio’s talented cast were running free, especially White. He hauled in touchdown passes of 3 and 35 yards in the half, while Jenkins scored another TD from a yard out. White finished with 10 catches for 134 yards, while Hall (81 yards) and Tyrone Gibson (56) had five catches apiece.
“They played a cover three and their cornerbacks played about eight yards off and it was wide open for hitches and short routes the whole game,” Marsilio explained. “When they came up and tried to play cover two or man, we had them deep every time.”
“They have some very talented wideouts and obviously a quarterback that can sling the ball a little bit,” Lintal said. “They’re tough to defend. You get guys out of the box to stop the pass and then they’ll pound you up inside. They’re a good football team.”
Robinson, who has orally committed to Penn State, missed the game with bone bruises on his right leg.
“We wish him well,” said Lintal, whose players made sure to shake hands with Robinson after the game. “We wish we would have got a chance to see him out here tonight.”
Matt Geiger and Jenkins did well in Robinson’s stead. Geiger rushed for 109 yards, including a 64-yarder to cap the scoring. Jenkins added 68.
Misher’s running basically was State College’s only offense. The junior rushed for 134 yards on 21 carries.
Lintal said his team, which travels to Martinsburg, W. Va., next Friday, showed improvement from Week 1.
“Our kids kept playing,” he said. “They didn’t give up and kept fighting every play. I’m proud of them for the effort.”