HOLLIDAYSBURG — Lampeter-Strasburg’s football team has been riding one of the most memorable postseason waves in program history.
Friday afternoon, some 170 miles from home here in Blair County, the Pioneers’ magical playoff run came to a crashing halt.
Shane Stump had three touchdown passes, Dylan Mallozzi rushed for 152 yards and two scores, and powerful WPIAL champ Thomas Jefferson feasted on four interceptions in a dominating 44-2 victory over L-S in a PIAA Class 4A state semifinal game in Hollidaysburg’s Tiger Stadium.
“Tip your cap,” L-S coach John Manion said. “That’s all you can do — tip your cap and enjoy what we did to get here.”
Stump, who has multiple Division I offers, hit Dan Deabner for 54-yard and 35-yard TD strikes in the first quarter, and TJ (15-0) triggered the mercy rule with a 22-point third-quarter blitz and booked a seat in next Thursday's PIAA-4A state title game.
TJ will take on undefeated District 2 champ Dallas for state gold.
L-S finished its season 11-4 overall, including the program’s second district championship, when the Pioneers topped the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, all on the road, as the No. 8 seed in the bracket.
“It’s been the best year of football of my life,” L-S senior Jacob Kopelman said. “This last month has been crazy. There’s been a lot of highs and only a few lows. Like today. But we’ve made some great memories.”
Friday, L-S mustered just two points, when linebacker Christian Garver crashed through the line and sacked Stump in the end zone for a safety with 7:53 to go in the first half. The Pioneers' offense had a couple of trips into the red zone, but L-S never cashed in.
“When you get the ball down there against a team like that, you have to punch it in and get some momentum on your side,” Manion said. “This moment stinks. But this experience, and all of the moments that got us here, were fantastic.”
Already ahead 22-2 at the half, nine-time WPIAL champ TJ iced the game with three third-quarter scores: Stump, who now has 36 TD passes against just one interception this season, hit Ian Hansen for a 34-yard score. Later, Mallozzi darted 12 yards for a TD, and Stump’s 2-point run triggered the mercy rule.
Nathan Werderber’s 22-yard TD romp capped the scoring with 5:14 to play, as TJ held L-S to six rushing yards on 19 carries, just six first downs and 128 total yards. Hansen had two interceptions, and Jake Pugh and Preston Zandier each had picks for the Jaguars, who piled up 379 total yards.
L-S did some good things: Ian Herr successfully executed a fake punt in the first half, tossing an 18-yard completion to Kopelman. QB Conner Nolt, under pressure from TJ’s unrelenting pressure all afternoon, hit Alex Knapp for a 50-yard completion in the first half. And the Pioneers sacked Stump three times, and won the field-position battle on a couple of occasions.
But TJ, which will angle for its fourth PIAA crown, never let L-S up for air.
“(Manion) told us how proud he was, and how honored he was to coach us this year,” Kopelman said, after emerging from L-S’s last postgame huddle this season. “He thanked us for giving our hearts, day in and day out. And for getting to this point, to the state semifinals. Nobody can take this away from us.”