HERSHEY — Manheim Twp. took a page from the Cumberland Valley playbook and made the Eagles play defense for long periods of time.
The Blue Streaks finally grabbed the District 3 Class 6A championship by edging Cumberland Valley 24-21 at Hersheypark Stadium on Saturday night.
Their first District 3 football gold moves them to the PIAA Class 6A semifinals Dec. 2 at 1 at Mansion Park in Altoona against Pine-Richland.
“We felt there were some things we could exploit against them, but we knew we needed to stop or slow down the run,” Blue Streaks coach Mark Evans said. “I thought our defense was solid and we made some plays down the stretch — they converted four fourth down plays in the contest. We felt that was one place where we could win the battle.”
Manheim Twp. (12-1) took advantage of two Eagle mistakes in the first half to tally two scores. Luke Emge tossed two scoring passes to Xavier Roman and Hilton Ridley to take a 14-7 halftime lead. They struggled to run the ball in the first half against the Eagles.
Cumberland Valley (10-3) ran an 18-play drive that ate up six minutes, but ended in a blocked 27-yard field goal.
On their next possession, the Eagles tallied a score as Jared Plessinger found Charlie Katshir on two consecutive plays for 64 yards.
Township came out in the third quarter and ran 13 plays but came up empty on a 37-yard field goal that missed wide left.
The Eagles went three-and-out, and the Streaks came back and ran 12 plays before settling for a 27-yard field goal by Jack Rodenberger for a 17-7 lead.
The Eagles’ quick-strike offense hit again as Cole McCoy caught a 22-yard pass for the score. Plessinger had hit Katshir for 34 yards one play earlier to set it up. CV trailed 17-14.
“We had some big plays tonight and I can’t say enough about this senior group and their leadership,” Eagles coach Mike Whitehead said. “This has been like a bowl game for us with the ability to get some young guys some reps and extra practice. They are a good team and they made a couple of more plays than we did tonight.”
The two teams exchanged touchdowns in the final quarter as Sallade (29 carries for 120 yards) scored from 10 yards out and Katshir scored out of the wildcat from 3 yards out with less than two minutes left.
Luke Emge, a Harvard commit, caught the onside kick to end the contest. Emge finished 13-for-21 for 135 yards.
Sallade will play lacrosse at the University of Virginia next fall.
“They came out and punched us in the mouth first and that is not like us,” said Katshir, who has been battling a shoulder injury. “The shoulder feels fine, but I am going in Wednesday to have it fixed. This was a tough loss for us.”
Katshir caught seven passes for 157 yards and rushed four times for 26 yards. He scored two touchdowns. Plessinger completed 14-of-21 for 224 yards, two scores and one interception.
The Eagles struggled to run the ball, rushing 26 times for only 96 yards, but part of that was the Blue Streaks ball possession.