HERSHEY, Pa. – For the St. Joseph's Prep football team, its bid for a second straight state title and fourth in five seasons was derailed by a highly impressive dual-threat quarterback, four lost fumbles, and several missed scoring chances.
Notre Dame recruit Phil Jurkovec ran for four touchdowns to spark Pine-Richland to a 41-21 triumph over the mistake-prone Hawks in Saturday night's PIAA Class 6A final at chilly HersheyPark Stadium.
On a field that was sprinkled with snow that fell before the game and in the first quarter, the undefeated Rams captured their first state crown and snapped the Prep's 27-game win streak.
Jurkovec, a 6-foot-5, 220-pounder who is the No. 8-ranked QB in the country in the class of 2018 according to ESPN, found pay dirt on keepers of 1, 17, 13, and 6 yards.
Jurkovec carried 20 times for 88 yards and two scores in each half. He also completed 15 of 27 passes for 200 yards and a TD.
"He beat us with his legs," Prep coach Gabe Infante said. "He's exceptional when he decides to run the football. I still think our defense did a decent job of containing him."
Pine-Richland (16-0) grabbed a 7-0 lead just 28 seconds into the game on Jurkovec's 1-yard plunge. Jordan Crawford's 50-yard kickoff return, a pass-interference penalty, and Crawford's 15-yard dash set up the tally.
Midway through the first stanza, Hawks wideout James Cherry was about to score on a 21-yard catch over the middle, but was hit at the 2-yard line and fumbled the ball into the end zone, and the Rams' Tyler King made the recovery.
The Prep (13-1) evened things at the start of the second with an 11-play, 48-yard scoring drive that included a pair of fourth-down conversions and was capped by halfback Marques Mason's 5-yard run.
Jurkovec's 17-yard dart with 35 seconds left until intermission gave the Rams, who outscored foes by 755-209 this season, a 14-7 advantage.
"The reality was, we were still in the game at that point," Infante said.
Jurkovec's third and fourth TD runs and his 25-yard pass to Ben Jochem put the District 7 champs ahead, 35-14, late in the third quarter.
The Hawks had committed only six turnovers coming into the final.
"Listen, they're kids," Infante said. "You never know what's going to happen."
Kolbe Burrell, Mason's backfield partner, carried 13 times for 158 yards. The fleet-footed sophomore escaped for a 56-yard, third-quarter score.
Of the winning streak being snapped, Infante said: "We never thought about streaks or anything like that. We never talked about it. It never crossed our minds."
The Prep's Marquez McCray connected on 12 of 35 passes for 121 yards, including a 16-yard TD strike to Brandon Sanders in the late going. Mason netted 72 yards on 15 attempts.
"I'm very proud of what these kids did this year," Infante said. "One game doesn't define them."
Pine-Richland 7 7 21 6 – 41
St. Joseph's Prep 0 7 7 7 – 21
PR: Phil Jurkovec 1 run (Vittorio Orsini kick)
SJP: Marques Mason 5 run (Anthony Tigano kick)
PR: Jurkovec 17 run (Orsini kick)
PR: Jurkovec 13 run (Orsini kick)
PR: Jurkovec 6 run (Orsini run)
SJP: Kolbe Burrell 56 run (Tigano kick)
PR: Ben Jochem 25 pass from Jurkovec (Orsini kick)
PR: Jordan Crawford 12 run (kick blocked)