Written by: Big 33 Staff on April 20, 1985.
The first all-star football game between the Mason-Dixon border states was more successful than anyone had reason to expect. It was a success from a football standpoint, with Pennsylvania opening a 17-0 lead before Maryland staged a second half assault that made the final score 17-14.
It was a success for the Pennsylvania High School Football Coaches Association, which gambled on a change from the Pennsylvania East-West game which many of the member coaches still favored. It was success for the fans as nearly 14,000 of them came to Hersheypark Stadium to see the Big 33 Classic return to its original home. It was a success for major sponsor United Republic Life and the other sponsors who helped make it possible for the game to be a financial success.
Augie Waibel, who had come into the game feeling his Maryland team might be overmatched, saw his worst fears realized when the Keystone State club scored 17 points in the second quarter.
This had been a defensive struggle those first 12 minutes. Quarterback Jim Penhanick finally got Pennsylvania moving in the second quarter. Pehanick’s 16-yard pass to Mike Hines moved the Keystone State team deep inside Maryland territory. A few plays later, Pehanick passed seven yards to Reggie Williams for a first down at the Maryland 17.
Little Walter Abercrombie found an opening on the right side of the line and never stopped running until he reached the end zone. Dan Crossman’s placement made it 7-0 with 10:23 left in the half. Linebacker Scott Gob kept the heat on Maryland by intercepting a pass and returning to the Maryland 10. On second down at the six, Penhanick fumbled the snap. He picked the ball up on the first bounce and saw an opening. Before Maryland could recover, he went right up the middle and was in the end zone. Crossman’s boot made it 14-0.
Gob made another big play when he recovered a fumble to stop a Maryland drive inside the Pennsylvania 10. The Keystone State club then got a 27-yard field goal by Crossman just before the end of the half.
Mark Ray took control of the game in the second half. The Maryland quarterback connected on 10-of-17 passes for 131 yards. Ray completed two medium range passes to set up a 16-yard run by tailback Irv Smith for the initial Maryland score. Ray’s pass failed and the visitors trailed by 17-6.
Pennsylvania, which had nine fumbled snaps, lost one of those on its own 32 on the next series. Ray dropped back and found Cal Williams over the middle. Williams split the two deep backs to score untouched. Once again, a pass play failed and Maryland trailed by 17-12. The Pennsylvania defense set its sight on Ray and picked off three of his passes in the final 12 minutes. Gob got one at the Pennsylvania seven. Darnell Warren got one at the Pennsylvania three with 5:32 left in the game.
Chris Ross got the third after Pennsylvania had taken an automatic safety following Warren’s theft. A clipping penalty nullified Ross’ return for a TD, but with only 1:23 to play, Pennsylvania had no trouble running out the clock.
“I was proud of our kids,” said Waibel. “We didn’t have a lot of big-name stars headed to big-time college programs. Our kids did a great job.”
Pete Antimarino agreed. “Their kids played hard,” said the Pennsylvania coach. “Our secondary got the big plays for us. Those fumbled snaps killed us all night.”