Northern Cambria vs. Ferndale – Oct. 25, 2019

Northern Cambria’s Adam Kopera (center) eludes Ferndale defenders (from left) Tajahi Thomas, Nick Reynolds, Brendan Gorham, Justin Mitchell, Quamir Simms and Braedon Wagner during their game on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019, at Duffy Daugherty Memorial Stadium. Kopera surpassed the school’s single-season rushing record of 1,576 yards.

NORTHERN CAMBRIA – Just like the Energizer bunny, Northern Cambria’s Adam Kopera keeps going and going and going.

He and the Colts are going to the District 6 Class A playoffs.

Kopera broke the Northern Cambria single-season rushing record, coming up just shy of a second straight 300-yard performance and scoring four touchdowns in a 47-6 victory over Ferndale at Duffy Daugherty Stadium on Friday night.

Kopera ran for 299 yards on 28 carries. He entered the contest needing 291 yards to reach Ben Vasil’s mark of 1,576 set just a year ago, when the Colts advanced to the district semifinals. Kopera thought he, too, might need a couple of playoff games to catch Vasil.

“I did think that, but my line just has been picking it up these last few weeks,” said Kopera, who rushed for 314 yards last week in a win over Penns Manor. “It’s just been amazing to have this team with me.”

Kopera broke the record on a 9-yard touchdown run with 3:14 left in the third quarter.

The Colts rushed for 340 yards as a team. After losing five-straight games in the middle of the season, Northern Cambria will enter the postseason on the strength of two straight wins with a 4-6 record.

“We feel accomplished. We just go out there and do our jobs and let (Kopera) do his,” junior center Luke Tomallo said.

Ferndale finished the season 2-8. 

Playing without quarterback Loghan Furfari, the Yellow Jackets managed to pull within eight in the second quarter when Tajahi Thomas outleaped a Colts defender for the ball and scrambled into the end zone for a 30-yard TD pass from Justin Mitchell.

Mitchell also rushed for 66 yards.

Ferndale coach Shawn Furfari said after the game that he’d informed the school this would be his final game on the sidelines. He said the players didn’t want to play this week but were pushed early in the week to take the field by the school district. Furfari said the coaches stood by the players, citing injury issues.

“We’ve have been injured the last few weeks. It’s been tough. We lost five, six seniors,” Coach Furfari said. 

“We thought it was a safety issue.”

Northern Cambria brought the running clock into play early in the fourth quarter when Gavin Dumm accepted a Michael Hoover wide receiver screen pass and ran 54 yards down the sideline for his second touchdown catch of the game.

“The way we’re running the ball has really opened the pass game for us,” said Hoover, who was 6-for-8 for 133 yards.

Northern Cambria started its first possession at its own 4 and promptly covered the field in five plays. Kopera accounted for 84 yards on the drive, breaking off one run for 40 yards and going around the left side for 11 for the first points of the night 4:33 into the contest.

Kopera rushed for 98 yards in the first quarter.

Following an Owen Prasko interception, the Colts duplicated their earlier 96-yard drive. Kopera converted a third-and-22 with a 43-yard run, then Mike Hoover found Eric Lubert for 27 down to the Ferndale 6. Kopera took it in on the next play.

After Ferndale cut the difference to one score, Northern Cambria struck again on a seven-play, 50-yard drive capped with a Kopera 4-yard run. The next time the Colts got the ball, it was on the Yellow Jacket 43, and Hoover found Dumm wide open down the seam for a 27-yard score 1:17 before the half.

Northern Cambria finished 11th in the district standings, so the Colts will travel to meet the sixth seed next week if no one above them opts out.

“We’re still making mistakes, and those are things we’re going to have to minimize, and I think we will,” Northern Cambria coach Sam Shutty said. “Well, we’re going to have to, because we’re in the playoffs now.”

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