HERSHEY, Pennsylvania (WKBN) - Southern Columbia captures their record-9th state championship with their 49-14 win over Wilmington. The ‘Hounds held a 14-7 lead in the closing moments of the second quarter before Gaige Garcia made a touchdown grab to tie the game at the half. Garcia scored 5 touchdowns (3 rushing, 2 receiving). Southern finishes the regular season with a perfect 16-0 mark. Wilmington closes out the year with a 13-2 record. Those two losses came against state champions – Southern and Farrell.
After an impressive opening drive by Southern Columbia, the Tigers’ Gaige Garcia fumbled inside the Greyhounds’ 5-yard line – recovered by Colton Richards - to turn the ball over.
The ‘Hounds received a 46-yard run by Robert Pontius to get Wilmington out of the shadow of their own goal post. Finally, Wilmington punched the ball into the end zone on an Ethan Susen run on a 4th and goal from the 2-yard line. The drive took close to 8 minutes and went 97 yards on 14 plays.
Back comes the Tigers, Garcia scores from 5-yards out to bring Southern within a point (7-6). The play which sparked the scoring drive was a fake punt inside of Wilmington’s territory which their junior wide out standout Julian Fleming picked up. Fleming is being watched by Penn State head coach James Franklin at Hersheypark Stadium.
After falling behind by 1, the Greyhounds raced down the field and took a 7-point lead on a pass play to Cam Marett from Pontius and then a two-pointer from the team’s quarterback (Pontius) to Susen with just over a minute to play in the opening half.
As the first came to a close, Garcia caught a 32-yard touchdown pass from Stone Hollenbach – which appeared to be short of the end zone with a second remaining.
To open the second half, after two punts, Pontius was intercepted. Southern takes advantage, on a 4th and 2 play from the Greyhound 26-yard line, Garcia runs unscathed 26-yards to give the Tigers a 21-14 lead.
Garcia, once again, hurt Wilmington. This time, he caught a 37-yarder from Hollenbach to double up the Greyhounds (28-14) with 4 seconds left to go in the third quarter.
After an interception, Southern strikes again. Gavin Garcia crossed the goal line. From 38-yards away, the Tigers take a 21-point advantage. Gaige Garcia scored his 5th touchdown of the day - on an 18-yard run – to extend the Tiger lead to 42-14.
Gavin Garcia got involved again with a 33-yard touchdown run of his own as Southern has scored the game’s last 42 points (49-14).
Southern Columbia, 49-14 (FINAL)
W – Ethan Susen, 2-yard TD run (W 6-0, 10:22)
S – Gaige Garcia, 5-yard TD run (S 7-6, 6:59)
W – Cam Marett, 12-yard TD catch from Robert Pontius (W 14-7, 1:24)
S – Gaige Garcia, 32-yard TD catch from Stone Hollenbach (T 14-14, 0:01)
S – Gaige Garcia, 26-yard TD run (S 21-14, 4:46)
S – Gaige Garcia, 37-yard TD catch from Stone Hollenbach (S 28-14, 0:04)
S – Gavin Garcia, 38-yard TD run (S 35-14, 11:44)
S – Gaige Garcia, 18-yard TD run (S 42-14, 8:49)
S – Gavin Garcia, 33-yard TD run (S 49-14, 4:35)