Central Dauphin beats N. Penn for Class AAAA title

HERSHEY, Pa. - December 17, 2011

Leading by seven points with 4:18 to play in the game, Central Dauphin (15-1) was faced with a fourth-and-1 at its own 48. North Penn, seeking its second state championship, had no timeouts remaining.

Central Dauphin coach Glen McNamee had a decision to make: punt and pin North Penn deep, or go for the first down and try to run out the clock.

McNamee didn't hesitate, calling for a quarterback sneak by Brandon LaVia, who plowed behind the Rams' offensive surge for a first down.

North Penn (13-3) never got its hands on the ball again, and Central Dauphin won its first PIAA football championship.

"We wanted to win the game right there," McNamee said. "We had faith in this team all year, and we had faith in them on that play."

Central Dauphin also had faith in versatile back Drew Scales, who came up with big plays that propelled the Rams. Scales produced 307 all-purpose yards including 109 rushing, 74 receiving, 97 on kickoff returns and 27 on punt returns.

Scales broke a scoreless tie 6:35 into the second quarter when he pulled in a deep pass from LaVia for a 74-yard touchdown play that gave Central Dauphin the lead. The scoring play set a record for the longest in a Class AAAA state title game.

North Penn tied the game early in the fourth quarter with a nine-play, 78-yard drive. James Fielder's 5-yard run and Brandon Mandes' PAT made it 7-7 with 10:09 to play.

On the ensuing kickoff, Scales found a seam in the middle and returned the ball 47 yards to the North Penn 46.

Central Dauphin ran just over two minutes off the clock before Zayd Issah punched in from the 2 with 8:08 left.

The score was Issah's 32nd TD of the season and was set up by Adam Hollinger's 36-yard run two plays earlier. Evan Brandes' PAT made it 14-7.

"I just come out every week and play my hardest," Scales said. "That's what wins football games: whoever works the hardest."

North Penn coach Dick Beck, whose 2003 team won the state Class AAAA title, thought his team could handle Central Dauphin.

"I thought we could beat them in the passing game and maybe run the ball a little better," Beck said. "But that's a good team and credit goes to them."

The games was the second-lowest scoring Class AAAA championship game in the 24-year history of the state football playoffs. Only Upper St. Clair's 12-7 victory over West Lawn Wilson in 1989 produced fewer points.

The Rams finished the season with a school-record 15 wins.

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