CARLISLE — For a little while it looked like Carlisle had a chance to get their first win of the year. State College shut down that notion very quickly.
After starting out slow, the Little Lions used a 21-point third quarter to take control in a 35-0 win on Friday night.
For the Little Lions it was far from a satisfying performance, while Carlisle could not capitalize on their hopes of getting their first win of the season.
State College (6-2, 3-2 Mid-Penn Commonwealth) did not score until Patrick Irwin found Darian Herncane for a touchdown with 43 seconds remaining in the first half. The Lions lost a fumble on their first drive, turned it over on downs their second time and struggled to move the ball the entire first half against an athletic Thundering Herd defense.
“We came out and we just made so many mistakes,” State College head coach Al Wolski said, “(Carlisle) was tough in the first half, they did some nice things defensively. If they could’ve moved the ball a little better offensively it would’ve been even tighter.”
After halftime, it was a whole new ball game as the Little Lions picked up the tempo with a no-huddle style offense that put Carlisle on its heels. State College rushed for 288 yards out of its option look, led by Andy Kelly’s 123 yards.
“After we got that first touchdown going into the half and then our halftime talk; we really picked it up in the second half,” Kelly said, “I think the biggest part was the tempo of the game. The line did an incredible job blocking and so did our backs.”
Irwin found Kelly for a 14-yard TD pass with 7:18 left in the third quarter that made it a two score game. It looked like Kelly may have actually fumbled before he got in but he was given the score.
Irwin ran for another TD less than three minutes later and then ran the option perfectly to set up a 32-yard TD run for Dan Fry late in the third quarter to break the game wide open.
For Carlisle (0-8, 0-5 Commonwealth) it was the best chance they may have for the rest of the year as they have to face powers Central Dauphin and Harrisburg to finish the season.
“Football is a beautiful sport,” Carlisle head coach Josh Oswalt said, “It takes 11 pieces to get the job done — on every play. Those 11 pieces are going to work together a couple plays and then one of those pieces wants to not do what they’re supposed to do and it’s going to crumble.
“We’re moving the ball and then we have guys take a play off and it gets exploited against a good team like State High.”
The Thundering Herd’s 11 penalties did not help, but Oswalt sees potential in his young team.
“I always like to pull positives out of anything,” Oswalt said, “I’ll share it with (my players) every day. Tomorrow we will show up at eight o’clock and there will be kids ready to go.”