State College coach Al Wolski said his team was “skating on thin ice” going up against Central Dauphin East running back Chase Edmonds.
In the second half of Friday night’s game, that ice shattered.
Edmonds totaled 257 yards and four touchdowns — three coming after halftime — and CD East shutout State College (3-3, 2-2 Mid Penn Conference) in the second half for a 34-20 victory at Memorial Field.
“They have a great back,” Wolski said of Edmonds. “You can stop him at the point of attack, but he’s quick enough and fast enough to bounce it. We take away the initial play, but he’s just a great back that can bounce it and take it away.”
Edmonds, who averaged better than 150 yards per game entering Friday, was kept in check during the first half, as he had 58 yards and one score, but that changed immediately in the third quarter. On CD. East’s first snap of the second half, Edmonds sliced through the Little Lions’ defense on his way to a 69-yard scoring scamper.
The 5-foot-9, 185-pound tailback said he thought he was going to get caught before hitting the end zone on the play, but added it provided a big spark for the Panthers (3-3, 2-2).
“I came out the second half, I knew our defense needed to get a stop, get us the ball back,” Edmonds said. “And that run, it definitely started us off on the right edge, gave us momentum and put us where we needed to be.”
Before Edmonds took over the contest, State College had some success on both sides of the ball.
On a quirky play, Jake Knouse opened the scoring with a 14-yard touchdown run during which he fumbled the ball around the 5-yardline, but had it bounce right back into his hands. Knouse — who finished with 140 total yards (41 rushing, 99 receiving) — also scored the Little Lions’ second touchdown in the form of another 14-yard run, which gave his team a 13-7 lead.
Jordan Misher added a 20-yard scoring run on a well-executed draw play late in the second quarter to give State College a 20-14 halftime advantage, but the team’s offense struggled after the break.
“They just played a little tougher, a little better than they did the first half,” Wolski said of the final 24 minutes. “We wrap some balls, make some catches, kept the ball, we maybe could have put a couple in.”
The Little Lions took a few drives into CD East territory in the second half, but they all sputtered. Quarterback Pat Irwin threw for 147 yards and ran for 34, but had both of his interceptions after halftime.
“(The defense) just picked it up,” CD East coach Aaron Blanding said. “We got on them a little bit at halftime, and our guys realized our backs are pretty much against the wall. They want to go out on a good note, so they started playing harder.”
Irwin’s second interception came with just more than five minutes remaining. But only trailing by eight points, State College still could keep it a one-score game — the team just needed a stop.
With the clock winding down, CD East got its knockout blow from, who else, Edmonds. The running back changed fields on a 28-yard run for his fourth and final touchdown of the game, and it gave the Panthers a two-score advantage with 3:23 remaining.
State College did drive the ball after the score, and Irwin was even able to take some shots to the end zone. However none were complete, and C.D. East evened its record on the road.
“I was thinking, ‘Man, I don’t want a long bus ride home with a loss,’” Edmonds said. “That was a gut-check win. We were down second half, but East doesn’t fold. That was a real good win.”