HERSHEY, Pa. – Imhotep Charter came up short in its bid to gain payback for last year's crushing title-game loss to Erie's Cathedral Prep.
Hurt by turnovers and a rash of penalties, the Panthers fell to the undefeated Ramblers, 38-28, in Thursday night's PIAA Class 4A final at chilly HersheyPark Stadium.
In the third straight championship meeting between the squads, a sloppy third-quarter showing all but doomed Imhotep's goal of avenging last season's 27-20 defeat and gaining the series edge.
It began on the second-half kickoff, when Cathedral Prep recovered an onside kick at the Panthers' 44-yard line. Billy Lucas' 14-yard dart gave the District 10 champs a 24-13 advantage.
Imhotep (12-2) had a prime opportunity to trim the gap midway through the third stanza when it reached the Ramblers' 2, but the Panthers came up empty on a lost fumble on a wildcat-formation play.
Cathedral Prep quarterback Joe Mischler promptly found speedy wideout Terry Roberts over the middle for a 73-yard gain. Mischler's 4-yard keeper two plays later made it 31-13.
Imhotep, which hammered the Ramblers by 40-3 to claim the 2015 Class 3A crown, pulled to within 31-21 on Jalen Sutton-Christian's 21-yard pass to 6-foot-4 wideout Yusuf Terry with 4 minutes, 46 seconds remaining.
But Cathedral Prep (14-0) all but clinched the program's fourth state title on Lucas' 6-yard run with 2:56 to play.
Terry (nine catches for 162 yards) found pay dirt again, this time on a 50-yard grab at the 1:26 mark, to close the scoring.
The Panthers, who were penalized 14 times for 126 yards, again missed the services of senior captain Isheem Young. The Penn State recruit was charged for robbing a South Philadelphia last Friday.
Aided by a fumble recovery at the Imhotep 42 and a pass interference penalty, Anthony Lupo's 37-yard field goal with no time on the clock put the Ramblers in front, 17-13, at intermission.
Mischler connected with Roberts for a 17-yard touchdown to put the Ramblers in front, 14-13, with 55 seconds before the break. Mischler converted throws of 7, 17, and 9 yards on the seven-play, 68-yard series.
Down by 7-0 after the first quarter, the Panthers showed life by posting back-to-back scores in the second frame.
A 10-play, 50-yard drive that was capped by Tykee Smith's 11-yard run and Anthony Gordon's extra-point boot evened things.
A Cathedral Prep player bobbled the ensuing kickoff and Myles Nicholson recovered the ball at the 24. Carl Jones scored on a 4-yard run three plays later to make it 13-7.
Sutton-Christian hit on 13 of 24 throws for 188 yards. Smith carried 19 times for 89 yards, while Jones gained 69 yards on 22 tries.
Cathedral Prep 7 10 14 7-38
Imhotep Charter 0 13 0 15-28
CP: Billy Lucas 2 run (Anthony Lupo kick)
IC: Tykee Smith 11 run (Anthony Gordon kick)
IC: Carl Jones 5 run (kick failed)
CP: Terry Roberts 17 pass from Joe Mischler (Lupo kick)
CP: FG Lupo 37
CP: Lucas 14 run (Lupo kick)
CP: Mischler 4 run (Lupo kick)
IC: Yusuf Terry 21 pass from Jalen Sutton-Christian (Smith run)
CP: Lucas 5 run (Lupo kick)