HERSHEY, PA -
It was all Southern Columbia from the very beginning as the Tigers dominated the Wilmington Greyhounds, 48-0, to win the PIAA AA football state championship, their eighth in school history. In front of a crowd of over 3,000 fans at Hersheypark Stadium on Friday afternoon, the Tigers star duo of quarterback Stone Hollenbach and running back Gaige Garcia put on a show.
Hollenbach got things started midway through the first quarter with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Justin Fleming. After a 29-yard field goal by Elijah Hoffman, Southern Columbia led Wilmington 10-0 after one quarter of play.
With about five minutes remaining in the first half, Hollenbach connected with Preston Zachman on an 8-yard pass to make it 17-0. Then with less than 30 seconds left until halftime, Hollenbach hit Garcia over the middle and the power running back forced his way through three Wilmington defenders to get into the end zone, making it 24-0 at intermission.
On the first play of the second half, Garcia took a handoff up the middle 57 yards across the goal line thanks to some great down field blocking by his linemen and wide receivers. After a 21-yard field goal by Hoffman, fullback Jeffrey Cox plunged forward for a 1-yard touchdown, thus enforcing the running clock mercy rule.
Wilmington just could not get anything going on offense. The Greyhounds only crossed midfield twice, and both times they entered Tigers territory, Wilmington turned the ball over on a fumble.
The Wilmington Greyhounds, the District 10 champion from New Wilmington, PA in Lawrence County, will finish their solid season with a record of 14-1.
Meanwhile, the Southern Columbia Tigers, the District 4 champion from Catawissa, PA, finished with a perfect 16-0, outscoring their opponents 815-193. This was the Tigers third straight trip to the AA state championship game, having won the title in 2015 over Aliquippa and falling short to Steel Valley in 2016.