La Salle earned a spot against State College in tomorrow night's PIAA Class AAAA football championship at Hersheypark Stadium with an impressive 35-7 romp over Ridley in a state semifinal Saturday.
The Explorers' road to the title contest went through interesting twists and turns in the previous 13 games.
Today, we conclude our look at six important games and how they helped form the team that will end its season Saturday.
Wednesday: Sept. 11 vs. Malvern Prep and Sept. 18 vs. West Catholic.
Yesterday: Sept. 26 vs. St. Joseph's Prep and Nov. 20 vs. St. Joseph's Prep.
Today: Dec. 5 vs. Easton and Dec. 12 vs. Ridley.
Dec. 5, La Salle 17, Easton 14. In a snowy contest, La Salle, known for its pass-heavy offense, had to rely on a go-ahead 35-yard field goal in the third quarter to push past Easton in a state quarterfinal.
The Explorers fell behind by 14-0 after Easton scored on its first two possessions, the second touchdown coming on an 85-yard run by Jashaad Gaddy.
La Salle failed to get on the scoreboard in the first quarter but came alive in the second, scoring touchdowns on a 17-yard run by quarterback Drew Loughery and 5-yard pass from Loughery to tight end Steve Jones.
With the snow becoming more of a factor, the offenses stalled. Loughery wound up completing seven of 18 passes for a season low of 74 yards, and running back Jamal Abdur-Rahman had 61 yards on 17 carries.
So the winning play turned out to be Mike Bennett's field goal with 53 seconds left in the third quarter. Late in the game, Abdur-Rahman made another clutch play with an interception at the goal line to seal the victory.
Dec. 12, La Salle 35, Ridley 7. The La Salle defense put up gaudy numbers throughout the season. But perhaps the most eye-opening stat was the five forced fumbles in the upset victory over Ridley in the state semifinal.
La Salle also held Ridley's highly touted quarterback, Chris Masterson, to just 11 completions in 27 passes, good for 131 yards.
The Explorers' offense turned only one of those fumbles into points, but did its part as La Salle outscored Ridley by 28-0 in the second half.
With the Green Raiders looking more desperate as the game went on, La Salle linebacker Anthony Cognetti returned Ridley's last fumble 36 yards, setting up Tim Wade's 9-yard touchdown run, which put the Explorers ahead by the final score.
Two La Salle turnovers accounted for a low-scoring first half that ended in a 7-7 tie. There weren't many big plays for the La Salle offense.