Football: Knights Mar Titans’ Field Dedication, Stay Unbeaten
To run in the October 6th Bucks County Herald
On a misty Friday evening, CB South proudly re-opened Titan Stadium after the completion of their $1.6 million turf installation.
But the North Penn Knights ruined the party, and showed why they are a state title contender. Behind Reece Udinski’s 377 passing yards, North Penn remained unbeaten (6-0, 3-0 SOL Continental) in their 42-13 convincing win over previously undefeated CB South. The Titans fell to 5-1, 2-1 in conference.
“North Penn is a good football team,” said CB South coach Tom Hetrick. “There were some things where we showed that we could compete. But they obviously have athletes who made some athletic plays. I’m proud of our guys.”
The Knights have won four straight game by at least 24 points.
“We were able to make some splash plays and build a little momentum midway through the first half,” Hetrick continued, “but against a team like this, you can’t make some of the mistakes we made. You have to make the important plays: getting them off the field and we didn’t do that consistently enough. But that’s a credit to them.”
The Knights struck first, marching 70 yards in eight plays, on a drive that ended on a Ricky Johns’ touchdown reception. They added to that lead on CB South’s next drive when Jon Haynes raced 61 yards on a pick-six.
But defense has been the Titans’ calling card all year- CB South surrendered just 31 points in their first five games- and they responded in kind. Tyler Watson picked off Udinski at the Titans’ 18, the first of three straight North Penn drives that ended in picks in CB South territory. On the next play, Watson raced 82 yards for a Titans’ score.
“My linemen opened the hole for me,” Watson said. “I just had to run through it and I showed off my speed and got into the end zone.”
A Noah Collachi pick killed the next Knight drive. South signal caller Jack Johns then hit Watson on a 46-yard bomb, to set up Sean Charpentier’s three-yard wheel route touchdown catch. The point after try missed, but North Penn clung to 14-13 lead midway in the second quarter.
“I saw the screen coming and we were taught on the short side to watch the running back,” said Titan defensive end Sean Gaida, who had the third interception as well as a tackle for loss on the evening. “I saw the running back and he threw it right to me.”
“We were expecting to get a lot of picks and we did get some turnovers,” added Watson, “but they made a lot of big plays and that hurt us.”
With 2:18 left in the first half, Udinski rolled left and hit Johns on a 41-yard touchdown pass. The back breaker came on the penultimate play of the half when Udinski connected with Jake Hubler on a 37-yard scoring bomb. It gave the Knights a 28-13 lead.
North Penn added touchdown runs by Dan Drop and Xzavier Gorski in the fourth quarter. Justis Henley personally killed three Titan second half drives with interceptions.
While the Knights commanded the game from late in the second quarter onward, South takes away some positives. Jack Johns attempted 28 passes and was not sacked. “We’re coached to step up, make the throw and let it go,” noted the 6’6” Johns.
Johns also connected with three different receivers on long passes of 38 yards or more. “The offense is a little hard to learn, but once you get the hang of it, it’s good,” he said. “We’re very complex, which is nice. They played a lot of man-to-man, which kind of helped us. We had the one wheel route and a couple of deep balls that I managed to hit.”
South’s defense also held North Penn to 66 rushing yards on 20 carries through the third quarter.
“We had good coaching. We had a lot of good B gap plays to set us up,” said Gaida, who averages a tackle for loss per game. “Our linebackers made plays.”
Watson gained 169 yards on nine carries and a catch for CB South. Udinski completed 22 of 41 pass attempts for 377 yards. West Virginia-commit Ricky Johns had 7 receptions for 165 yards; Hubler added 152 yards on nine touches.
“They have so many formations and looks and (Udinski) can buy a lot of time, so you can’t truly prepare for what all they can do,” Hetrick feels. “It gets down to you playing your position, going through your read progression and putting yourself in the position that that scheme tells you to be in. Then when the ball is in the air, you have to make a play.”
The one consensus winner was the new field.
“I love it. I love playing on the turf and it feels great,” Watson said.
“It’s awesome, especially on a night like this where the only thing that is a factor is the wind and not the field,” Hetrick pointed out. “It’s great to have a facility to play these types of games.”
Point After: The Titans named Michael Riotto, the father of Titan senior Theo Riotto, as the year’s honorary captain. Michael has battled multiple myeloma and will lead the Titans in the Light the Night fundraiser on October 8 in Doylestown. CB South wore red wristbands as a show of solidarity to the Riotto fam
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