State College had more yards, more plays and more time of possession than Martinsburg on Friday.
But for the second consecutive season, the Little Lions fell six points short against the four-time defending West Virginia Class AAA champions.
Martinsburg, which won 35-29 at Memorial Field last season, converted two early turnovers into touchdowns and held on to edge State College 27-21.
Thanks to a defense that held Martinsburg (3-0) scoreless in the second half, the Little Lions had chances to take the lead, but failed to capitalize, including a first-and-goal from the Bulldog 8.
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State College (1-2) stuffed the Bulldogs on their first possession, but the Little Lion offense never got the ball. Kellin Valentine fumbled on the punt return and Martinsburg took over at the 25.
Trey Boyd carried the ball four times from there, going over from the 1 on fourth down to give Martinsburg a 7-0 lead.
State College moved the ball on its first possession, but on a second-down play from the Martinsburg 49, the ball was snapped between quarterback John Weakland and running back Jordan Misher and the Bulldogs recovered.
A 45-yard pass completion from Carter Walburn to Eric Mitchell set up Boyd’s second one-yard touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 14-0 lead.
After an exchange of punts, the Little Lions got back into the contest thanks to a perfect play call. With the Bulldogs blitzing, Weakland tossed a screen to Misher, who rumbled 41 yard for a score. Kevin Cramer’s extra point made it 14-7 with 10:23 left in the first half.
Martinsburg next took advantage of a short field following a 28-yard punt and needed just two plays to go 35 yards. Boyd’s 23-yard run set up Deamonte Lindsay’s 12-yard run to make in 21-7
State College responded with an 11-play, 71-yard drive. Weakland hit Valentine for a 30-yard gain and made a huge play with his legs. On fourth and 20 from the Bulldog 28, Weakland scrambled 26 yards to the 2. He snuck over from the 1 on third down to make it 21-14.
Boyd’s 29-yard kickoff return gave Martinsburg the ball at its 46. Walburn capped the 54-yard drive with a 21-yard strike to Dylan Brewer with 27 seconds left in the half. Aziz Salamy blocked the extra point to make it 27-14.
The Little Lion defense, led by linebacker Stan Martin, shut down the Bulldogs in the second half, holding Martinsburg to just four first downs.
State College moved within one score when Weakland (10 for 15 in the second half) fired a 17-yard strike to Brett Graham with 3:42 left in the third quarter.
The Little Lions then got a golden opportunity to take the lead when Martin recovered a botched snap at the Martinsburg 8. The Little Lions lost eight yards on their next three plays, however, and Cramer was wide left on a 33-yard field goal.
Martinsburg could have put the game out of reach after Walburn picked off Weakland at the State College 20. The Bulldogs drove to the 2, but kicker Fisher Boekmann missed a 20-yard chip shot.
State College would have two more chances from there. A pass on a fake punt ended one drive near midfield and Walburn’s 58-yard punt gave the Little Lions the ball inside their own 1 with 3:29 to go.
Weakland connected on four passes and a 15-yard gain on a draw by Misher put the ball inside Martinsburg territory, but a bizarre sequence ensued. A State College player who was injured on Misher’s run was penalized for delay when he tried to stay in the game, giving the Little Lions first-and-15 from their own 47.
A sack and two incompletions made it fourth-and-17. Weakland avoided a blitz, but just missed Graham at the Martinsburg 35 on the Little Lions’ final play.
Misher, who entered the game averaging 180 yards rushing, had 73 yards on 21 carries against a defense that had allowed just 20 total yards rushing in its first two games.
Weakland completed 15 of 24 passes, seven to Drew Flanagan, for 209 yards.
Boyd had 70 yards on 16 carries to lead Martinsburg. The Bulldogs’ potent rushing game was held to 152 yards on 39 carries by State College.
The Little Lions next open Mid Penn action Sept. 19 at Carlisle.