State College senior defensive lineman Jackson Heasley waited eight long years to fulfill the dream of any young football player.
Fellow defensive lineman Titus Thompson presented him the gift by knocking the ball loose from Chambersburg quarterback Tyler Collier, and Heasley did the rest of the work from there.
Heasley scooped and scooted for his first career touchdown at any level of football, capping a dominant first 14 minutes in State College’s 70-20 victory over Chambersburg at Memorial Field on Friday night.
Heasley’s 26-yard fumble return TD was the cherry on top of State College’s Senior Night victory.
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“I wouldn’t trade this for the world with all my best friends out here,” Heasley said. “It was great to get a big win.”
State College (7-2, 3-2) didn’t waste any time putting away a winless Chambersburg team (0-9, 0-5) Friday night.
The Little Lions scored four touchdowns less than eight minutes into the game and scored three offensive TDs in their first five offensive plays.
State College finished the first quarter with a 35-0 advantage thanks to 130 team rushing yards and 81 passing yards from quarterback Tommy Friberg.
Senior Tristen Lyons led the charge with four carries for 100 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter alone. Overall, the 5-foot-6 running back finished with 131 yards and three touchdowns on just six carries for an impressive 21.8 yards per carry.
“Our kids really responded well off the Harrisburg loss,” State College coach Matt Lintal said. “I think we got better last week, and we saw that tonight.”
The Little Lions showed no ill-effects coming off their loss to top-ranked Class 5A Harrisburg from the week before.
Lintal said the team had a great week of practices after their disappointing loss to Harrisburg. State College was tied with Harrisburg at 21-21 before the Cougars outscored the Little Lions 30-7 in the final two quarters.
“Everybody had a pretty bad taste in their mouths after that loss,” Heasley said. “We took it personal and adversity is the best thing for a football team to get back on their feet.”
Senior Brandon Clark blocked a punt that led to an Ian Barr six-yard touchdown return to start the scoring for the Little Lions. Clark added a third-quarter touchdown reception in the beatdown of the Trojans.
Thompson also had a night to remember with an interception to go along with his forced fumble on Heasley’s touchdown.
Another senior, Christian Rothrock, added the final score of the night on a 15-yard run in the fourth quarter.
“We really put a lot of focus and emphasis on the seniors for what they’ve done for the program,” Lintal said. “It’s great to see Jackson Heasley get a touchdown as a defensive lineman. Christian Rothrock is one of our hardest working all-around kids, and to have him score a rushing touchdown may have been my favorite play of the game.”
State College has now beaten its opponents by 20 or more points in all seven of their victories this season.
The Little Lions figure to face a much stiffer test against Central Dauphin next week in their final tuneup up before the state playoffs.
“I feel like we’re getting better at the right time,” Lintal said. “Each week we want to get better and better. We’ve got a great test next week, which will hopefully send us into the playoffs the right way.”