STATE COLLEGE — That saying about football being more than a game certainly applies to the Harrisburg Cougars.
Mid-Penn Commonwealth partner State College really became the Cougars’ knight in shining armor Monday, agreeing to reschedule its division bout with Harrisburg as the latter was running out of time to qualify for the District 3 playoffs.
The Cougars took care of the rest, wrapping up the Class 6A top seed with a 41-6 victory over the Little Lions at posh Memorial Field.
Quarterback John McNeil threw for 183 yards and a pair of touchdowns, helping Harrisburg build a 27-0 advantage through 24 minutes. Head coach Calvin Everett and State College general Matt Lintal, a real hero in Harrisburg’s quest to reach the minimum four games needed to make the postseason, mixed in mostly reserves in a quick second half.
Unofficially, the Cougars will host No. 4 York High Saturday in one semifinal at Severance Field. No. 3 Central York will travel to No. 2 Central Dauphin Friday night.
Harrisburg scored on its first four possessions Monday, and Everett’s defense put a clamp on State College from the beginning. The Lions (2-3) were limited to one first in the opening half. In addition, it’s second first down came with 3:48 left in the third quarter.
The Cougars racked up 250 rushing yards, but it was back-up Nayquan Prather who led the way, carrying 9 times for 116 yards. Ameer Grandberry and Jaylon Johnston chipped in rushing touchdowns, while WR Marquise McMillian was a thorn in SC’s side.
McMillian hauled in both of McNeil’s TD passes, the first a 40-yard heave with 4:48 remaining in the opening quarter. McMillian struck again early in the second, this time from the SC 12.
Harrisburg’s run was capped by a slick strip and score by LB Roderick Rogers, who sprinted 29 yards with 7:41 to play.
With Harrisburg up 7-0, McNeil’s streak to McMillian came one play after Markil Strawbridge picked off a Conrad Moore pass near midfield. Sameir Barton also intercepted a pass. State College manufactured just 3 passing yards for the game.
THEY SAID IT
“It was a great feeling, knowing we got a great win to start us off toward the playoffs. We’re going to get back to practice tomorrow and get ready for York. Knowing we got another chance to play, we’ve got some great opportunities ahead. We had faith that coach Cal would get us a game.” – Harrisburg QB John McNeil
“I thought this could be my absolute last possibility. I just thanked [Lintal] because he was the only coach in the state who was willing to go out on a limb and play us. So, I definitely thanks him for that.” – Harrisburg coach Calvin Everett
Harrisburg 20-7-7-7 41
State College 0-0-0-6 6
H-John McNeil 4 run (McNeil kick), 6:38
H-Marquise McMillian 40 pass from McNeil (McNeil kick), 4:48
H-Jaylon Johnston 1 run (kick failed), 1:11
H-McMillian 12 pass from McNeil (McNeil