Pennsylvania blanks Maryland in annual Big 33 football game

Monday, May 31, 2021 | 5:45 PM

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania defeated Maryland, 20-0, in the 64th Annual Big 33 Classic on Monday afternoon at Central Dauphin Middle School.

Bralen Henderson, a 6-foot-3, 265-pound defensive end from Central Catholic, opened the scoring with a 14-yard fumble return for a touchdown with 3 minutes, 56 seconds left in the first quarter.

“I was just getting off the block around the guard and saw Cam’Ron (Stewart, of Gov. Mifflin) come around and make the strip sack,” said Henderson, an Ohio recruit.

Henderson also made a big play in the third quarter, making a sack to force a Maryland turnover on downs on the first defensive series of the half.

On that same series, Stephon Hall made two key plays. The Central Valley defensive back helped force an incompletion with tight coverage and made a key tackle two plays earlier. Late in the contest, he made a game-sealing interception on a deep ball, preserving the shutout.

Luke Miller of Pine-Richland also made some critical plays on defense. He had back-to-back tackles during Maryland’s second possession of the second half, one play before his teammates recorded another turnover on downs with a fourth-down stop. Miller, who also played special teams, finished with four tackles.

“That means everything,” Miller, a Kent State recruit, said of the shutout. “That was the goal every time we got together for practice. Our goal was to the get the shutout.”

Henderson and Miller combined for what was essentially the clinching play in the forth quarter, when Henderson recorded his second sack and forced a fumble. Miller recovered, with Pennsylvania up 13-0, with 4:58 to play.

“There’s been a lot of great defenses in the Big 33,” Henderson said. “I just think in a year with covid and the restrictions, it was a great ending to beat the best players from Maryland.”

The Pennsylvania defense forced five turnovers. Maryland was held to 159 yards of total offense on 51 plays.

Though the Pennsylvania offense did not light up the scoreboard , it never turned the ball over. Several WPIAL athletes made an impact on that side of the ball.

Ky’ron Craggette of Connellsville had nine carries for 34 yards. Ed Tillman of Central Catholic carried the ball eight times for 21 yards. Central Valley’s Myles Walker had one catch for 8 yards.

Offensive linemen in the game included Aaron Gunn of Union, Cam McLaurin of Montour, Harrison Hayes of Pine-Richland and Grant Cullen of Central Catholic. Each were on the field for half or more of Pennsylvania’s snaps.

The two offensive touchdowns by Pennsylvania were on touchdown passes. In the second quarter, Evan Clark of Manheim Township threw a 64-yard strike to Judah Tomb of Central York. In the fourth, Joey McCracken of Warwick hit Malik Cooper of St. Joseph Prep in the back of the end zone for a 20-yard scoring play.

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