SELINSGROVE — There hasn't been much reason for Southern Columbia quarterback Preston Zachman to utilize his legs this season.
Zachman carried the ball seven times over the Tigers' first two games, then just seven times in the 11 games that followed.
"He's made some plays this year, but tonight you really saw what he's capable of doing," Southern Columbia coach Jim Roth said. "We haven't had to use him much this year, but a couple times tonight, he took it upon himself."
Zachman ran for a season-high 120 yards and two scores on just three carries, adding 113 more yards and another score through the air as the Tigers rolled into the state semifinals for the fifth straight year with a 63-22 victory over Upper Dauphin in the PIAA Class 2A quarterfinals Friday night.
"I'm always wanting to pass the ball," Zachman said. "They were doing a pretty good job on Julian (Fleming). There were some plays where we thought he was getting held, but that's just football.
"I was lucky enough to get outside on those plays."
Southern Columbia (14-0) will face Richland, a 29-21 winner over Bishop McDevitt (District 12), in the semifinals next week at a site and time to be determined. Upper Dauphin ends its season as the District 3 champion at 12-1.
The Trojans tried to grab momentum early as Macklin Ayers returned the opening kickoff 46 yards to near midfield, but the Tigers' defense forced a quick three-and-out.
It took the Southern Columbia offense five plays to get on the board. Zachman was looking for Fleming on a first-and-10 from the Upper Dauphin 22 when he was flushed to his right. He moved backward to avoid a defensive end, then trucked down the right sideline for his first scoring run of the game with 8:19 left in the first quarter.
"I was looking for Julian, but they had him covered pretty good," Zachman said. "I was just lucky enough to get out of the pocket and get away."
Upper Dauphin's offense — using a muddle huddle, then a quick run to the line of scrimmage for a quick snap — caused issues on the next drive for the vaunted Southern Columbia defense.
The Trojans put together a 12-play drive, keyed by two big third-down conversions. The first came when Ayers broke contain when the Tigers pressured him, running 10 yards on third-and-4. Later in the drive, the 6-foot-2 senior rolled to his right to escape a blitz before hitting Kade Mattern for 14 yards to the Southern Columbia 15 on a third-and-6.
"The biggest adjustment to us was the speed and how quickly they got up to the line," said Zachman, who also doubles as an outside linebacker for the Tigers. "They ran a lot of different stuff that we usually don't see.
"It took us some time for us to make our adjustments (at the line) with how fast they came to the line and snapped the ball."
However, Upper Dauphin's Jake Ramberger fumbled, and Cade Linn jumped on the ball for the Tigers to end the drive.
"Anytime we've had any type of anything resembling adversity, the defense has made a stop or created a turnover for us," Roth said. "That's just another example of that."
Upper Dauphin picked up only one first down over its next five possessions, and, by that time, the Tigers led 42-0.
Southern's drive after the Trojans fumble covered 85 yards in just four plays. Zachman broke a designed quarterback run 54 yards for a touchdown on third-and-4 to give Southern Columbia a 14-0 lead with 44 seconds left in the first quarter.
Gaige Garcia (four carries, 95 yards) scored on his first carry of the game, a 48-yard TD with 10:21 left in the first half. After another Upper Dauphin punt, Gavin Garcia (eight carries, 91 yards) scored the first of his two touchdowns on a 6-yard run with 8:11 left in the second quarter. Gavin Garcia's score was set up by a 39-yard catch by Fleming.
Fleming got into the scoring action with 3:07 left in the half — making a 16-yard TD grab with an Upper Dauphin defender clinging to his jersey with two hands — to make it 35-0.
A short Trojans punt led to a 55-yard, six-play drive that pushed the margin to 42-0 on Ty Roadarmel's 2-yard TD with 1:41 left.
Upper Dauphin scored on the Southern Columbia defense to end the first half as Ayers — who had 138 yards in returns — return a kick 43 yards to set up a six-play scoring drive.
The Trojans hit two big passes in the series — a 20-yarder to Sam Kerwin, and a 35-yard completion to Kade Matter to Southern Columbia's 2. Ayers punched it in from 1 yard out at the first-half buzzer to make the score 42-6.
The Trojans joined Danville and Jersey Shore as the only teams to score a touchdown on Southern Columbia's first-team defense this season.
Gavin Garcia scored on a 20-yard run to open the third quarter. Wes Barnes added a 92-yard kickoff return TD and a 7-yard scoring run in the second half for the Tigers.
CLASS 2A QUARTERFINALS
at Harold L. Bolig Memorial Field, Selinsgrove H.S.
SOUTHERN COLUMBIA 63,
UPPER DAUPHIN 22
Southern Columbia (13-0)`14`28`14`7 — 63
Upper Dauphin (12-1)`0`6`8`8 — 22
SCA-Preston Zachman 22 run (Ethan Haupt kick)
SCA-Zachman 54 run (Haupt kick)
SCA-Gaige Garcia 48 run (Haupt kick)
SCA-Gavin Garcia 6 run (Haupt kick)
SCA-Julian Fleming 16 pass from Zachman (Haupt kick)
SCA-Ty Roadarmel 2 run Haupt kick)
UDA-Macklin Ayers 1 run (run failed)
SCA-Gavin Garcia 20 run (Haupt kick)
UDA-Ayers 1 run (Sam Kerwin pass from Ayers)
SCA-Wes Barnes 92 kickoff return (Haupt kick)
UDA-Ayers 1 run (Jake Ramberger run)
SCA-Barnes 7 run (Haupt kick)
RUSHING — Southern Columbia: Preston Zachman 3-120, 2 TDs; Gaige Garcia 4-95, TD; Gavin Garcia 8-91, TD; Wes Barnes 6-36, TD; Ty Roadarmel 5-33, TD; Jayden McCormick 2-14; Matt Masala 4-11; Braden Heim 1-3; Team 1-(-1). Upper Dauphin: Jake Ramberger 16-86; Macklin Ayers 16-35, 3 TDs; Hunter Lentz 2-17; Kade Matter 3-2; Christian Snyder 1-2; Aidan Wiest 1-1; Tyler Cleveland 1-1; David Johnson 1-1; Dalton Boyer 2-(-9).
PASSING — Southern Columbia: Zachman 4-6-0, 113 yards, TD. Upper Dauphin: Ayers 7-11-0, 137 yards; Ramberger 0-2-0; Cleveland 0-1-0.
RECEIVING – Southern Columbia: Julian Fleming 3-80, TD; Gaige Garcia 1-33. Upper Dauphin: Ramberger 4-60; Matter 2-57; Sam Kerwin 1-20.