After standing in the background patiently waiting his turn, Anthony Paffie-Misher broke out in a big way for State College.
On Friday, the senior led the Little Lions to a 71-28 blowout win against Central Mountain in State College’s home opener at a rejuvenated Memorial Field.
“He’s a kid that was a great junior varsity player for us last year, but couldn’t crack the starting lineup because we had some pretty good guys in front of him,” said State College head coach Al Wolski. “In a normal year he would have played a lot more as a junior.”
Paffie-Misher’s Friday was anything but normal. He returned an interception for a touchdown, ran for a score, caught another and even threw a 34-yard touchdown pass.
“Last year, I played mostly defense,” he said, “but this year I get more touches on the field on offense so it’s pretty nice.”
The ability to make that type of contribution drove him this offseason.
“Definitely,” Paffie-Misher said. “(I) did everything that I could do and this was a great night for me.”
He quickly pointed out it was also a great team win and one that could propel the Little Lions (1-1) into next week’s matchup with West Virginia defending class AAA state champ Martinsburg.
“They’re going to be a much different team,” Wolski said of Martinsburg. “They have a lot of athletes from what we understand. They’re defending state champions so it will be a little bit different from tonight.”
The Wildcats (0-2) were without four starters on the defensive side and were no match for a varied State College attack.
Quarterback Patrick Irwin, who accounted for most of the offense last week, rushed for 92 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries. The senior also went 6-for-8 with 97 passing yards and two more scores.
John Weakland added four catches for 92 yards and two touchdowns.
“Each week we keep bringing it,” Irwin said. “It was an awesome feeling. We practiced hard and got everybody in the game today. Our lineman did an excellent job today.”
The big guys up front opened gaping holes for Paffie-Misher and Jordan Misher. Jordan Misher, a sophomore, rushed eight times for 73 yards and two scores.
“We had three sophomores starting on our defense and one freshman,” said Wildcats’ head coach Vincent Kishbaugh. “State College always does a good job with its skill guys. And its offensive line is pretty good.”
State College jumped on the Wildcats early and never let up. Central Mountain’s offense kept it in the game, but its defense just wasn’t able to get stops.
Quarterback Bryce Bitner threw for 148 yards, but was intercepted three times. Tyler Pavalko finished with three catches for 71 yards and a touchdown and scored on an eight-yard run.
Fullback Hunter Weaver had 50 yards on 15 carries.
State College’s Zach Damiano, who intercepted a pass late in the game and also forced a fumble, led the State College defense. Chris Seighman also intercepted a pass.
In the end however, it was Paffie-Misher’s dynamic play that stole the show.
After scoring on a six-yard run that made it 37-14 after a missed extra point, Misher was back to work quickly in the second quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Damiano forced a fumble that gave State College the ball with more than two minutes left in the half.
Irwin handed the ball to Paffie-Misher on the next play from scrimmage as Weakland baited his defender on the outside. Paffie-Misher sprinted out right, squared his shoulders down field and lofted the ball toward the end zone.
As Weakland sprinted into the end zone, Paffie-Misher walked to the 50-yard line and confidently stared into the crowd.
“I was just looking at the crowd and doing what I do best,” he said. “Showing the crowd what I can do on the field.”