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Mustangs defeat Crusaders for Spot in 3A District Championship
By Topher Tongel
What a difference a year makes. Or does it?
The West Perry Mustangs defeated the Lancaster Catholic Crusaders 49-20 Friday night in the PIAA District 3 5A semifinal. This followed last year’s decisive 63-20 decision in the same round.
The 90 minute commute from Elliottsburg to Rossmere did not phase the Mustangs as quarterback Marcus Quaker scored off a keeper less than a minute into the game. West Perry would score on the next drive, with Quaker handing the brown ball off to running back Brad Hockenberry. The Mustangs led 14-0 after the first frame.
Quaker hit receiver Bryce Smith for a 33 yard touchdown in the second quarter, putting the Mustangs up by three scores.
The Crusaders did not give up.
On the ensuing kickoff, Lancaster Catholic returner RJ Gonzalez utilized strong blocking and speed to find the endzone, connecting for a 95 yard return touchdown. The L-L Section 5 Co-Champions were within two scores.
The Mustangs continued their attack on the next possession as Hockenberry received the pitch from Quaker and ran for a 62 yard score. Their extra point attempt did not pass through the gold uprights, leaving it a 27-7 game.
With just 1:27 left in the half, Lancaster Catholic executed a perfect 2 minute drill with :29 left in the half. Gonzalez scored again for the purple and gold, this time on a red zone pass from junior quarterback David Stefanow. The Mustangs took a 27-14 lead and 290 yards rushing into the old barn at Maley Field for the intermission.
The Mustangs opened the half with a defensive turnover, giving their star quarterback another opportunity to shine.
Quaker, who has already received Division I attention, pranced into the endzone on a 1 yard scamper, giving the green team a three score lead.
The Mustangs ceased a comeback effort by the Crusaders late in the third quarter when they intercepted Stefanow in the red zone.
The visiting team would hold the ball into the fourth quarter, with that drive ultimately ending with another Quaker touchdown pass. Hockenberry would run for another touchdown five minutes later. West Perry led 49-14.
The Crusaders continued to play as Eli Cunningham pushed through the weighty linemen and powered for a 51 yard score just 30 seconds after Hockenberry.
The Mustangs would win 49-20.
Lancaster Catholic finishes the season with a 9-2 record. Former Millersville standout lineman Chris Maiorino and his staff have helped revitalize the Crusaders program, going 19-3 over the last two seasons and earning two section championships.
West Perry earns a spot in the District 3 3A Championship for the second year in a row. They’ll face Wyomissing in a title game rematch from last year.