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Cedar Crest clinches 5-5 finish with blowout of Penn Manor

LEBANON>> The plan was never for it to be easy. Building rarely ever is.

So when Cedar Crest allowed an opening-drive touchdown Friday to a team that had yet to lead by more than six all season, a Senior Night start far from ideal, the blue and white stayed simply true to its bumpy course. The Falcons were going to focus on the finish, just as they had done when sitting at 2-5 one month ago and when second-year coach Rob Wildasin took over their program after the previous three seasons had yielded a half-dozen wins.

Tackle by tackle, run by run and conversion after conversion on all six of their fourth downs, they built to a finish; a historic finish, in fact, that now should be worthy of a district playoff berth.

Cedar Crest powered its way to a 48-21 victory over Penn Manor in its regular-season finale, capping the program's first winning record in section play in 10 years. Senior Kobe Bolanos scored three touchdowns and junior Justice Belleman rushed for 184 yards to all but reserve a place in the opening round of next week's 16-team District Three Class AAAA playoffs. The Falcons (5-5, 4-3 Section One) entered Earl Boltz Stadium on Friday as the No. 15 team in the current power rankings, which will be finalized and released Sunday morning.

"It feels great because we've been through a 16-year slump," Bolanos said of the likely berth. "I've been a part of two teams and we've been six points away from making district playoffs. And now that I finally get to make it my senior year, it's definitely nice."

The Comets (0-10, 0-7) did all they could early to keep Cedar Crest from fulfilling its postseason aspiration, having had their own regular-season send-off spoiled last year by the Falcons. But Grant Gale's 68-yard scoring rush around the left end on the third play from scrimmage was quickly washed away when four Belleman running blows led to Bolanos's initial touchdown. The score, a weaving 18-yard sprint to the end zone, was later followed by a gritty, physical Bolanos push from 21 yards away. Between the two touchdowns came a fourth-down Belleman score around the right end, an effort fronted by a pile-driving offensive line that helped furnish every end-zone arrival.

Freshman quarterback Logan Horn then found senior tight end Raymie Ferreira for a 16-yard touchdown with 0:39 left in the half, the cherry on top of a 27-7 lead at the break.

"I thought maybe we could go in 14-7 at halftime and that didn't happen," Penn Manor coach Jon Brubaker, Jr. said. "But congratulations to Cedar Crest. They played with some enthusiasm out there."

Enthusiasm and an relentless ground approach, as Belleman again buried Comet defenders en route to another touchdown that jumpstarted the second half. From there, the Falcons traded scores to a comfortable finish, which they had designs on all along.

"As a program, that's what you want to see," Cedar Crest coach Rob Wildasin said. "I think everyone here is waiting for the other shoe to drop. Something's always happening at Cedar Crest. But now you've got kids in the district playoffs, at 5-5 for the first time in a long time, and they earned it."

Cedar Crest 48, Penn Manor 21

Penn Manor7077—21Cedar Crest1413147—48

First Quarter

PM — Gale 68-yard rush (Hart kick)

CC — Bolanos 18-yard rush (Peffley kick)

CC — Belleman 8-yard rush (Peffley kick)

Second Quarter

CC — Bolanos 21-yard rush (Peffley kick)

CC — L. Horn 16-yard pass to Ferreira (Kick fails)

Third Quarter

CC — Belleman 1-yard rush (Peffley kick)

PM — Grant 3-yard pass to Wright (Hart kick)

CC — Bolanos 9-yard rush (Peffley kick)

Fourth Quarter

CC — Roda 20-yard pass to Williams (Sharifi kick)

PM — McElheny 1-yard rush (Hart kick)

PMCCFirst downs1526Rushes-yards33-20756-334Passing7-13-16-10-2Passing yards6990Total yards276424Punts3-36.00-0Fumbles-lost0-00-0Penalties-yards1-158-57
Individual statistics

Rushing — CC: Justice Belleman 34-185, Greg Munnion 8-64, Kobe Bolanos, 5-61, AJ Apple 4-25, Adam Loehr 1-4, Evan Horn 1-2, Logan Horn 3-(-7). PM: Marcos Nina 10-89, Grant Gale 16-81, Theo McElheny 5-28, Blane Richardson 2-9.

Passing — CC: L. Horn 4-7-59-0, Roda 2-3-31-0. PM: Gale 6-11-55-0, Alex Scheivert 1-2-14-0.

Receiving — CC: Raymie Ferreira 2-37, Iziah Trimble 2-22, Greyson Williams 1-20, Sam Sierra 1-11. PM: Nina 3-40, Ben Wright 2-19, Xavier Roman 2-10.