WARREN, Pa. – Cambridge Springs led for nearly all of Saturday’s District 10 Class 1A semifinal against Eisenhower, but the Knights came up with an answer when it mattered the most.
Rewatch the game:
Trailing 20-19, Benji Bauer’s 58-yard touchdown run with 2:59 to play gave Eisenhower (11-0) a 25-20 lead.
And with Cambridge Springs (8-4) driving at the Eisenhower 41 on the ensuing possession, Garrett Jensen intercepted Blue Devils’ quarterback Morgan Applebee with just over a minute remaining, and the Knights were able to run out the clock, setting up a date with Reynolds for the D10 title.
“It was blocked great,” Bauer, who finished with 209 yards in the game, said of his go-ahead touchdown run. “I saw one or two guys out there and I knew I couldn’t get run down.”
See Bauer’s full interview here:
Eisenhower coach Jim Penley credited the defensive adjustments with the big play late.
“Jensen, you’ve got a smart kid who’s all about the team he does his job sits back like he’s supposed to, sees it coming, and makes a huge play,” Penley said.
Kris Bunk was one of a number of Eisenhower players who stepped up on defense in the second half to send the Knights to the goal they have been building toward all season – playing for a D10 title.
“Coach told us at halftime just to play our game and we did and we were able to come out with the W,” Bunk said.
See Bunk’s full interview here:
It was a game in which Eisenhower twice got within one in the second half, with Cambridge Springs stopping them on 2-point conversion attempts both times.
“I mean, I’d like to believe that my teams have always been like this,” said Penley. “All those years playing against Mercer County teams and getting beat, just getting to a point where you have an expectation that these guys are in any game and there’s no game that’s too far out of control.”
Cambridge Springs led 14-7 at the half on the strength of a pair of Morgan Applebee touchdowns, one rushing and the other a 17-yard touchdown strike to Preston Gorton with 1:18 to go in the half.
Kaiden Boozer intercepted Shawn Pascuzzi on the Knights’ opening drive, but Eisenhower’s defense stood tall until Tucker Lindell’s 12-yard touchdown run with 1:49 left in the quarter made it 14-13.
Lindell talked about the win afterward:
The Knights went for 2, and got it, but it was called back due to penalty and they failed on the ensuing attempt.
Cambridge Springs answered right back, with Applebee hooking up with Gorton on a 54-yard scoring strike with 9:59 to go in regulation.
Again, the Knights had the answer, as Bauer’s 10-yard touchdown run with 5:50 to play made it 20-19 after Cambridge Springs again stuffed the Knights’ 2-point conversion attempt.
“Well, you know, I think a lot has to be said for this group because when everyone knows you’re gonna do it and you still do it, and when you can do it and pick up big chunks of yardage when everyone else needs to pass, I think it’s pretty special,” Penley said of his team’s ability to run the ball. “Benji, Tucker, running and blocking tonight, Pascuzzi running simple quarterback sneaks and picking up big chunks yards, blocking from the receivers downfield … you know these guys know what it’s about. It’s about making plays and winning a game.”
Cambridge Springs made a statement on the opening drive that they were ready to play, driving the ball right down the field, all on the ground, capped off by Applebee’s scoring plunge.
Eisenhower got on the board with 10:02 to go in the second quarter on Lindell’s first touchdown of the game, a 1-yard plunge.
Connor Younger, an anchor on the Knights’ offensive line, talked about the win afterward:
Pascuzzi finished with 98 yards on the ground and Lindell 37 for Eisenhower.
Applebee finished 8-of-12 with 111 yards for the Blue Devils, 76 of which went to Preston Gorton. Jones had 54 yards on the ground.
The win for Eisenhower sets up a showdown with Reynolds.
“Number one, the goal is the district title game,” Penley said. “For us, that’s always been the goal. To be able to play high-quality football in Western Pennsylvania and go play a program like Reynolds, coach (Josh) Mull, all those players down there, man, that’s what it’s all about. That’s why you do this.”