Just outside the gates of Memorial Field, the band played, students huddled together for warmth, and players met up with family and friends.
Then there was State College head coach Matt Lintal, jogging out of the stadium and letting out a loud “woo!”
He had a pretty good reason for his Ric Flair impression, too.
On Friday night, State College (6-3, 5-1) was victorious 21-7 over Cumberland Valley (7-2, 5-1). The win earned the Little Lions a three-way tie for first place in the Mid Penn Conference Commonwealth division.
Perhaps more importantly, it continues the hot streak State College is currently riding. After starting 0-2, the Little Lions have won six of their last seven games, and are now on their second three-game winning streak of the season.
“Anytime you can beat a team that’s undefeated in the league,” Lintal said, “you’re doing something right.”
That “something right” was a combination of consistent running, timely play-action, and a stout defense. And the Little Lions didn’t wait to get it going.
On its second series of the game, the Little Lions rattled off a 13-play scoring drive that started and ended with handoffs to bell cow back Jordan Misher.
Misher, who didn’t play last week due to an undisclosed reason, didn’t show any rust, carrying it 10 times for 66 yards and a three-yard score on that drive. He finished the night with 135 yards on 27 attempts.
Lintal was happy to have Misher back, especially given the back’s absence from last year’s game against Cumberland Valley. Misher missed the game with an ankle injury, and State College lost 13-0.
Lintal continued to run Misher on the next drive, handing it off on four of the first five plays of the series.
Then, the Little Lions caught the Eagles leaning. On a play-action fake, Cumberland Valley’s defense bit on the apparent handoff to Misher, giving wide receiver Noah Woods a step on his defender. State College quarterback Tyler Snyder hit him in stride for a 34-yard score that electrified the home crowd with 6:53 left in the second quarter.
“We run it a lot,” Lintal said with a smile. “But you’ve got to call those at the right time.”
Following a Cumberland Valley three-and-out, Lintal dialed up a few more wrinkles. Wide receiver reverse? Nine yards. Fake running back swing and come back to tight end Brett Graham? Ten yards. Bubble screen? Another nine.
After some quirky calls, State College went back to its go-to man, feeding Misher for a 16-yard touchdown run with 3:02 left in the half.
21-0, State College.
Cumberland Valley coach Michael Whitehead knew the Little Lions were a dangerous squad. He made sure to note State College’s close losses to Spring-Ford (28-25) and Bishop McDevitt (41-23) early in the year.
The Eagles’ coach also knew his team couldn’t get off to a bad start.
“We couldn’t come in here and play poorly,” Whitehead said.
To the dismay of the Eagles, they turned the ball over twice in the first half, and managed 74 yards on 26 offensive plays.
“We just weren’t executing the way we’re capable of executing,” Whitehead explained. “Credit to them, they played really well.”
Cumberland Valley switched quarterbacks after halftime — a move that Whitehead said he couldn’t comment on. Josh Ferguson made way for Ridge Bachman, who attempted just three passes all second half.
And it was his last one that finished off the game.
Cumberland Valley scored in the third quarter on a three-yard run by Joey Heikel, who finished with 12 carries for 45 yards, and, later on, the Eagles had the ball down two touchdowns with 6:07 left in regulation.
Bachman, trying to make something happen, threw into triple coverage toward his receiver, but it was tipped into the air and intercepted.
From there, State College killed the clock, solidifying another momentum-building win — one that has Lintal in high spirits about where his team is headed.
“I think we’re peaking at the right time,” Lintal said. “Our kids are excited moving forward.”