SILVER SPRING TWP. — The Cumberland Valley offensive line bulldozed their Hempfield counterparts into the defensive backfield all evening as they led the Eagles to a 28-7 victory over the Black Knights in a District 3 Class 6A semifinal contest Friday night at Harry Chapman Field at Cumberland Valley High School.
“This was special to win tonight in our final senior game at the Chap,” Cole McCoy said. “We have been to the championship game three times in our career, and we are gunning for gold next week in Hershey.”
The Eagles will face Manheim Township, a 28-14 winner over Wilson, at Hershey Park Stadium for the District 3 championship and a berth in the PIAA semifinals the following week.
Cumberland Valley (10-2) exchanged punts with Manheim in the first quarter and then embarked on a 17-play, 88-yard drive that culminated in a 4-yard scoring pass from Jared Plessinger to Charles Katshir. The Eagles converted on two fourth-down plays, both passes to Katshir, in the drive.
Hempfield (8-4) dropped two fumbles in the first half, giving the Eagles quality field position on both drives. They tallied a touchdown on one and Katshir missed a 40-yard field goal wide left on the other.
On the next Eagle drive, Jake Palmer scored from 8 yards out. The score was set up by a 23-yard completion to Katshir.
The Eagles committed a personal foul on a kickoff return, and the Black Knights started at the Eagle 43. Two plays later, quarterback Mark Himmelsbach fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Rumi Khan.
A 12-play, 58-yard drive by the Eagles in the third ate up six minutes. It was completely on the ground, with McCoy racing in from the one-yard line to give the Eagles a 21-0 lead.
“This group of seniors are special. They have been in the championship three years in a row and they are focused on gold,” Eagle coach Mike Whitehead said. “We have so many weapons, and it doesn’t matter who gets the ball, we can spread it around. Their leadership has been great.”
The Eagles fumbled away a chance, but the defense held serve and forced two incomplete passes on two Hempfield drives.
Galen Witmer, who toted the ball 17 times for 124 yards, rambled off tackle for 28 yards and the final Eagle score.
Hempfield finally dented the scoreboard as Himmelsbach found Nash Beinhauer on a second-down pass from the 1-yard line with 4:35 left in the game.
An eight-play Eagle drive wrapped the game up for the home team.
The Eagles rushed 49 times for 246 yards and limited the Black Knights to 64 yards on 21 carries.
Jake Palmer rushed for 86 yards and McCoy added 39 yards in addition to Witmer’s total.
“We had heard Steven Wentzel wasn’t going to play so we were able to focus on containing Himmelsbach, who handles the ball the majority of the time,” Whitehead said.
Himmelsbach threw for 96 yards on 12 of 17 completions but very little downfield as the Eagle defense didn’t give him time.
“Jared (Plessinger) has just been unbelievable this year, he finds that little window and fires the ball in there,” McCoy said. “He has made some huge plays this season.”
Plessinger completed eight of 13 passes for 124 yards, six to Katshir for 68 yards.