Manheim Central has had a way of keeping you on the edge of your seat. Their previous two playoff games were decided by one point. Friday’s PIAA 5A State Semi-Final game versus WPIAL champ Gateway went down to the final seconds once again.
The Barons were able to score on their first two drives of the game. But after a Gateway injury delay, the Gators were able to tie the game by half time.
Manheim Central came out strong in the third quarter as well. Quarterback Evan Simon found Garret Fittery for his second TD of the game, but Gateway QB Brady Walker responded with an incredible deep pass to Courtney Jackson. The 61 yard pass and run tied the game at 21.
At the end of the third quarter Gateway botched a punt return attempt and Manheim Central recovered the ball in the redzone. The prime opportunity proved to be one of the biggest swings of the game. Central running back Colin Erb would fumble reaching for the goal line, giving the ball back to Gateway early in the 4th quarter.
Gateway QB Brady Walker wasted no time going deep again to his favorite target Jackson, this time for 66 yards and a 28-21 lead. But the Manheim Central defense would not collapse. An interception by Will Rivers set Central up in Gateway territory. Erb was able to get redemption for his fumble, busting off a 25 yard TD run to tie the game at 28.
But the three plus minutes on the clock proved too much for Walker and the Gateway offense. Aided by several penalties, the gators drove into the redzone and with 14 seconds left, Jayson Jenkins hit a field goal to give Gateway a 31-28 lead.
On the ensuing kick off, Manheim Central was able to run a lateral play that got the ball into Gateway territory but not before time expired. Manheim Central’s season coming to a close 31-28 at Mansion Park Stadium in Altoona.