Isaiah Edwards stood with his State College teammates at the conclusion of their 33-21 victory over Cumberland Valley on Saturday, helmets raised to the Little Lions band as they played the school’s alma mater.
Tens of thousands of empty bleacher seats sat around them but the thousand or so remaining fans standing in front of them were all that mattered.
State College had just completed a second-half comeback and they soaked in the final moments of the inaugural Beaver Stadium Classic in front of 5,681 fans packed into the lower level of the East stands.
The Little Lions (9-1) have been a team without a home this season since Memorial Field has been under construction, but they made Beaver Stadium their playground on Saturday with the State College student section chanting “we own Beaver” at the end of the game.
“I don’t know if (James) Franklin is going to like that,” Edwards joked after the game. “We definitely owned Beaver (Stadium) for the day.”
Edwards, a regular at Penn State home games as a fan, did a little of everything for the Little Lions in their victory, racking up 193 total yards and forcing a critical second-half fumble on defense.
As a receiver, Edwards finished with two catches for 111 yards and a touchdown. As a runner, he carried three times for 46 yards. And as a passer, he connected with Conrad Moore for a critical 36-yard pass to set up Dresyn Green’s 9-yard touchdown run to give the Little Lions a lead for the first time at 20-14 with 5:19 remaining in the third quarter.
Edwards’ biggest play came with four minutes remaining in the first half after his quarterback Brady Dorner threw a pick-six on the previous play to make it 14-0 Cumberland Valley.
State College coach Matt Lintal flanked Edwards to the left side of the formation in single coverage on the opposite side of their Trips formations and Dorner and Edwards did the rest on the 62-yard touchdown pass.
“Coach called verticals and (Dorner) just threw it up and said, ‘go get it,’” Edwards said. “I know I could trust my quarterback Brady because he’s a heck of a player so I just went up and got it and made him look good.”
The Little Lions were mired in an offensive drought before Edwards’ long touchdown.
State College actually didn’t have a first down and they had negative nine scrimmage yards with a Dorner pick-six through its first four drives.
The Little Lions managed just 59 scrimmage yards and seven points in the first half on 14 total offensive plays while the Eagles totaled 211 scrimmage yards and 14 points on 43 plays.
State College dominated the second half, though, with 305 scrimmage yards and 26 points on 30 plays in the final 24 minutes while the Eagles totaled 142 scrimmage yards seven points on 22 plays.
Lintal said his team had both their worst and their best halves in Saturday’s one-of-a-kind contest.
He admitted that both the players and the coaches had some early nerves playing at Beaver Stadium before Edwards’ touchdown snapped them out of their funk.
“We cleaned some things up and just calmed the guys down and said, ‘Man, it’s gonna be a great story when we walk off this field with a win,’” Lintal said. “We came out and played the best half of our season so I’m extremely excited for these guys.”
An Ohio State fan actually started the scoring for Cumberland Valley in the first half with an offensive and a defensive TD.
Taking a play out of Joe Paterno’s playbook, Dontey Rogan punched in a 2-yard fullback dive for a touchdown on fourth-and-goal with 8:16 remaining in the first half.
Rogan then undercut Dorner’s pop pass to tight end Nathan Lusk and returned it for a 15-yard touchdown four minutes later to stake the Eagles to a 14-0.
Rogan and the rest of the Eagles may have been on the losing side in Saturday’s contest but it was still a memorable game for the players and fans that made the 90-minute trip from Mechanicsburg.
“It was a very good experience,” said Rogan, who lived in Columbus through his freshman year of high school. “It was just mind-boggling that we could go through what college football players do in high school.”
Edwards, Green, and Lokey Howell used Saturday’s game as a chance to imitate one of the all-time Penn State greats after their touchdowns. After the team’s five scoring plays, the Little Lions ran off the field with their arms flailing above their shoulders, which Saquon Barkley made famous from 2015-17.
State College players wanted to do the celebration since they were playing in Beaver Stadium, and Lintal got approval from the officials before the game.
Saturday’s game at Beaver Stadium will likely be the biggest highlight of the season for the Little Lions but the show will go on in the district and state playoffs in November.
State College is tentatively scheduled to take on Mifflin County next week for the District 6 Class 6A championship, but the Huskies could elect to skip the playoffs after a 3-7 campaign. The Little Lions defeated the Huskies 42-6 in the season opener on Aug. 23.
Before the playoffs start, though, Edwards said he’s going to enjoy his bragging rights over star Penn State freshman defensive back and former Little Lions standout Keaton Ellis, who has yet to score a touchdown in Beaver Stadium.
“He hasn’t scored here yet so I can say got one (touchdown) over him,” Edwards joked.
State College 33, Cumberland Valley 21
(Saturday at Beaver Stadium)
Cumberland Valley 0 14 0 7 — 21
State College 0 7 13 13 — 33
CV — Rogan 2 run (Kissinger kick), 8:16
CV — Rogan 15 interception return (Kissinger kick), 4:06
SC — Edwards 62 pass from Dorner (Spitler kick), 3:52
SC — L. Howell 13 run (Spitler kick), 9:14
SC — Green 9 run (kick failed), 5:19
SC — L. Howell 13 pass (pass failed), 11:53
SC — Green 16 run (Spitler kick), 8:46
CV — Ramper 58 pass from Kovach (Kissinger kick), 3:22
Top Rusher: CV: Dell’anno 24-125. SC: Green 16-77-1.
Top Passer: CV: Kovach 3-5-0-1 81. SC: Dorner 7-11-1-2 179.
Top Receiver: CV: Ramper 3-74-1. SC: Edwards 2-111-1.
Interceptions: CV: Rogan
Next Game: State College vs. Mifflin County in the District 6 Class 6A Finals, TBD