CRESSON – Possession is nine-tenths of the law. The other tenth belongs to Central Cambria.
The Red Devils came up with seven turnovers – scoring on two of them in the first 4:35 and two more in the second half – as Central Cambria claimed the Goal Post Trophy by virtue of a 55-22 victory over Penn Cambria in Laurel Highlands Conference football action on a splendid Friday evening at Penn Cambria High School Athletic Field.
Luca Tsikalas had two interceptions and a fumble recovery in the first half. He opened the game by stealing the ball away from Penn Cambria return man Brandon Storm on the opening kickoff and darting 22 yards down the home sideline just 14 seconds into the contest. His biggest play, though, might have come at the end of the second quarter.
With Penn Cambria having whittled the Devils’ advantage from 21 points to five and near midfield, Tsikalas made a breathtaking over-the-shoulder grab of Garrett Harrold’s deep throw, which the Central Cambria junior returned 44 yards to the Panther 25 with 1:45 left in the half.
Dylan Long went off left tackle from the 1 two plays later – Carter Seymour and Nate Wyrwas hooked up for 24 yards inside the 1 on the previous snap – and Central Cambria was well on its way to its second win in as many weeks.
“I got burnt for a touchdown earlier, so I had to make that play. I just ran back and tracked it down,” Tsikalas said of the momentum-changing pick. “Turnovers really have been key for us. Our offense is set up by the turnovers. Hopefully, we just keep getting better.”
Wyrwas stepped in front of a Penn Cambria receiver and took the interception back 99 yards for a score in the third quarter, and Levi Keiper later picked up a botched shotgun snap and ran it back 40 yards for a score that brought the running clock into play.
Fittingly, the game ended on a Central Cambria fumble recovery. The Red Devils have 11 takeaways through two weeks.
This is the first time Central Cambria has started the season 2-0 since 2010.
“It’s huge. In my past three years, we’ve only had four wins. To have two under our belts already, that’s just a great feeling,” Long said. “If we keep this going, it’s going to change the momentum of this program.”
When the Devils weren’t scoring on takeaways, they were setting themselves up for scores. Long rushed for 157 yards on just 12 carries. Meanwhile, Seymour finished with 174 yards through the air, and Wyrwas netted 118 yards on six receptions.
“It’s a lot of guys buying into the team concept. Just look at tonight. We have defensive touchdowns, special teams touchdowns, we ran the ball hard, we made some plays throwing,” Central Cambria coach Shane McGregor said.
Penn Cambria dipped to 0-2 despite a second straight 200-yard passing performance from Harrold.
The freshman finished with 222 yards through the air, connecting with Storm (48 yards) and Jake Tsikalas (30 yards) for touchdowns.
“You see potential, but potential is a dangerous word,” Panthers coach Nick Felus said. “We have to get some things cleaned up, and we will.”
Central Cambria forced four turnovers in its 54-7 opening-week win over Greater Johnstown. Everitt Fryer followed up Luca Tsikalas’ opening-play score when picked an interception off his shoelaces after Harrold was hit in the act of throwing and ran it back 31 yards to make it 21-0 with 7:25 on the clock in the first quarter.
In between those scores, Seymour lofted a perfect 21-yard TD toss to Wentz.
That was set up by a 65-yard Long run, who only was denied a touchdown by Storm chasing him down from behind.
“We’ve been practicing hard to do everything right. We’ve been watching film to get everything down,” Wentz said.
“We came out here wanting that trophy, and we came out here to get it.”
Central Cambria drove the length of the field in eight plays to start the second half, Hobbs Dill going the last 11 yards over the left side to make it a three-score difference again. Nick Marinak scored on a late 88-yard kickoff return to set the final.