With time running out last Friday, State College assistant coach Mike Snyder asked the team’s quarterback and leading receiver a question on the sideline.
Are you going to go out and win this game for us?
When the Little Lions offense took the field trailing Cumberland Valley 16-13 late in the fourth quarter, the unit knew it was “now or never.” They had one more opportunity to put together a game-winning drive.
State College quarterback Tyler Snyder and his top receiver Noah Woods made the play to put the Little Lions in position to win the game, connecting on third-and-25 for 36 yards early in the drive.
“Lo and behold, those are two of the kids that had some of the biggest roles in that last couple minutes,” State College coach Matt Lintal said.
State College finished the drive with a touchdown run and beat Cumberland Valley to remain undefeated. The Little Lions (6-0) have put the big win behind them this week as they prepare to face Central Dauphin East (4-2) on the road this Friday.
They’re now looking to build on the comeback victory, knowing they’ll face similar pressure situations the rest of the season.
“The kids just built a great trust in each other,” Lintal said. “We haven’t been in too many of those scenarios where we’ve had to be real resilient throughout the start of the season.”
Tyler Snyder showed that resilience in the win.
The quarterback threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown at the end of the first half.
But he found Woods on that crucial third down in the fourth quarter and finished 12 for 22 for 187 yards passing.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Lintal said. “We’re all going to make mistakes in football and in life and when you do, you got to fall forward and learn from it.”
Lintal has seen his quarterback become more comfortable this season.
Snyder put in the time to gain a better grasp of the offense, studying film and talking with his coaches.
It’s translated to success.
Snyder has thrown for nearly 150 yards per game with eight touchdowns and four interceptions.
“He understands what I mean through very little communication, without me needing to say a lot,” Lintal said. “He knows where we’re trying to go with the football the vast majority of the time.”
While Snyder has been solid at quarterback, running backs Pete Haffner and Tristen Lyons have been productive.
Both enjoyed memorable games against Central Dauphin East last season.
Haffner had three carries for 67 yards and two touchdowns in his first action at running back, and Lyons piled up 227 yards on 25 carries.
Since that game a year ago, Haffner — who scored the game-winning touchdown last week — has been a factor in the State College running game.
“He is truly falling forward every snap,” Lintal said.
Lintal expects a tough game Friday night as his team tries to stay unbeaten.
Central Dauphin East has fallen short against two of the Mid Penn’s best teams, losing to Harrisburg (5-1) and Central Dauphin (5-1).
“This is far from a pushover,” Lintal said. “This is a very quality football team that has tremendous athletes.”