Noah Woods isn’t ready to put his pads away just yet.
The State College wide receiver showed that on the field at Clarion University on Saturday night, hauling in three touchdown passes to help his team to a 35-14 win over McDowell in a PIAA Class 6A subregional game to clinch a spot in the state playoffs.
When quarterback Tyler Snyder looked for Woods — all three of his catches went for touchdowns — McDowell (9-2) couldn’t contain him.
“If I can get a good release, nobody’s going to be able to keep up with me,” Woods said.
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Running back Tristen Lyons combined with Snyder and Woods to power the Little Lions offensively. With Pete Haffner banged up and limited to four carries, Lyons rushed for 95 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, picking up first down after first down in the fourth quarter to seal the win for the Little Lions (10-1), who advance to face Williamsport in the first round of the PIAA playoffs this week at a site and time to be determined.
The defense got in on the scoring, too.
Josh Ruffner’s 35-yard fumble return gave the Little Lions a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter.
“Defensively, they hawked the football,” State College coach Matt Lintal said. “Our kids are taught that, we practice that a whole bunch and our defensive staff does an outstanding job.”
Woods and Snyder connected to get State College on the board in the first quarter.
Facing fourth-and-2, State College lined up and checked into a passing play.
It was designed to hit Woods underneath.
But he got a great first step and Snyder adjusted to hit him for a 33-yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7.
“He’s a spectacular athlete,” Lintal said of Woods. “And Tyler and him have just an outstanding feel for things. They can make adjustments out there on the field.”
After Ruffner’s touchdown, Woods found the end zone again.
This time, he grabbed a 9-yard touchdown pass with McDowell’s Tim Romanski draped on him, pushing the Little Lions ahead 20-7 at the break.
The wide receiver has been catching passes from Snyder for years.
“We’ve been playing football together since elementary school,” Woods said. “We played in our Little League together and we just have a really good connection ever since elementary school playing out on the playground.
“We’ve just been connecting ever since then. It really showed tonight.”
The Little Lions benefited from a penalty on McDowell for having too many men on the field on a fourth down to put the game away. On fourth down at the 10-yard line, State College was going to attempt a field goal.
But the penalty set up first-and-goal and Lyons soon made it 26-14 with his touchdown with 9:42 left in the fourth.
Snyder connected with Woods on the two-point conversion.
Woods wasn’t done yet.
As he reached the goal line in a sprint to cap a 75-yard touchdown catch for the game’s final score, he acted as if he broke the tape at the finish line of a race.
“I got a little track experience, so decided to give it a little lean in there,” Woods said.