HERSHEY — Jarrett McClenton said he didn't want to give up the ball. His Archbishop Wood High School teammates made sure he didn't.
McClenton, a junior running back, set PIAA Class AAA championship game records with 40 rushes for 238 yards and scored three times to lead in Archbishop Wood to a 22-10 victory over Harrisburg Bishop McDevitt Friday night.
McClenton's second-half touchdown runs of 4, 1 and 15 yards enabled the Vikings (13-2) to overcome a 3-0 first-half deficit and win their second PIAA Class AAA football championship in the last three years.
Bishop McDevitt (14-2) lost for the third time in the last four years in the state AAA championship, including a 52-0 loss to Archbishop Wood in 2011.
Wood's victory at Hersheypark Stadium made the case for power rushing in a way it has rarely been made in state championship games.
Few teams have ever controlled a half like the Vikings did after halftime. The Vikings compiled some staggering statistics: 20:20 of possession time in a 24-minute half, 184 rushing yards to McDevitt's minus-5 and a 22-7 scoring edge.
But no numbers loomed larger than an epic 97-yard drive that started with 4:11 to play in the third quarter and ended 12 minutes and six seconds later with McLenton's game-clinching 1-yard touchdown run. The drive took 21 plays, one of the longest in PIAA playoff history.
"I wanted the ball and I didn't want to give it up," McClenton said. "We wanted to end the game with that drive. We didn't care where it started."
Wood led 7-3 at the start of that drive thanks to McClenton's first score, a 4-yard run that ended a 72-yard, 11-play drive to start the third quarter. That erased the 3-0 lead McDevitt had taken on Bobby Zwigart's 33-yard field goal in the first quarter.
Still, the game was in the balance when Wood took over at its own 3 with 4:11 to go in the third. But McClenton picked up 29 critical yards on a third-and-13 draw from his own 21 that kept the drive alive.
Wood eventually converted another third-and-long on Tom Garlick's 16-yard pass to Kendall Singleton to the McDevitt 28 and a fourth-and-7 on Garlick's 9-yard flip to Josh Messina to the 16.
McClenton pushed in from the 1 to make it 14-3 with just 4:05 to play.
Bishop McDevitt was forced to throw deep, but went four-and-out. It would not run another offensive play and would possess the ball for just three minutes and 40 seconds in the final two quarters, including just 42 seconds in the 4th quarter.
"My biggest fear was that they would keep the ball away from us," Bishop McDevitt coach Jeff Weachter said. "That's what happened."
Wood and McDevitt would each add fourth-quarter scores, Wood on a 15-yard run by McClenton with 1:35 to play and McDevitt on Andre Robinson's 82-yard kickoff return 15 seconds later.
"We got on our kids a little bit at halftime," Archbishop Wood coach Steve Devlin said. "We'd played well in the first half, but not up to our standards. We knew we had to keep their offense off the field."
Bishop McDevitt had a 12-yard touchdown run by Robinson called back in the first quarter, leading to Zwigart's field goal. That was significant: Wood's monster drive gave the Vikings an 11-point lead, but if McDevitt was only down by 7, it could have played its final series differently.
The three combined points by Bishop McDevitt and Archbishop Wood in the first half tied the record for lowest point total by two teams in a half in a PIAA Class AAA championship game. Allentown Central Catholic and Moon also combined for 3 points in the second half on the 1998 championship game. Central Catholic had the field goal in its eventual 10-0 victory.