Pennridge Football Marches Past West
By Don Leypoldt
To Run in the 10/29 Bucks County Herald
Ian Walbridge was stopped dead in his tracks, wrapped up by three C.B. West defenders.
But the Pennridge senior RB somehow squirmed free and raced 27 yards for an opening touchdown.
Not a bad analogy for Pennridge’s (4-4, 2-2) season. After their loss to C.B. East on October 9th, the then 2-4 Rams’ playoff hopes also seemed dead in their tracks.
But after a win against Hatboro-Horsham, followed by a rain-soaked 23-14 defeat of C.B. West (1-7, 0-5) this past Friday, the Rams’ postseason odds- while still long- are a little bit brighter.
“It was similar to last week where we had a really bad weather situation,” observed Pennridge head coach Randy Cuthbert. “We definitely wanted to get up in the first half.”
DB Dan Wolfe picked off a West pass at the CBW-25 three plays after Walbridge’s (19 carries, 140 yards) touchdown. Dan Caya ended the drive with a 22 yard field goal, giving Pennridge a 10-0 lead.
Speedy West sophomore Larry Winton returned the kickoff 61 yards; the Bucks marched 36 yards in five plays, capped with Liam Houck’s (9 carries, 43 yards) six yard scoring run.
Blessed with a short field midway through the second quarter, quarterback Kyle Peters 17 carries, 75 yards) completed a 15 yard pass and scrambled for 14 more yards to highlight a 42 yard drive. Tailback Jesse Knepp (16 carries, 56 yards) made the score 17-7 with his two yard touchdown sweep.
“It was nice to have Kyle back this week,” noted Cuthbert, who also credited Pennridge’s quarterback platoon against Hatboro-Horsham. “He did a real nice job managing the offense, managing the situations and running the ball.”
West was so distraught that it took them an entire 20 seconds to respond. Dylan Langley returned the kickoff all the way to the P-30. Quarterback Ward Udinski, dropping back to pass and seeing no one open, scrambled 30 yards for the score.
The Rams got the ball back at the P-31 with 2:22 left in the second quarter. Two West penalties provided 30 of Pennridge’s 69 yards. With just six ticks left on the clock, Peters found tight end Brandon Cope in the end zone for a touchdown pass.
The halftime score of 23-14 remained the final. Mother Nature morphed from a first half drizzle into a second half hard rain and gave both defensive coordinators the benefit of a 12th man. The two teams combined for just 130 total yards in the second half.
Noted Cuthbert, “When the second half came around, it turned into a field position game. We were trying to run the clock, get first downs, punt the ball.”
The Rams ran 62 plays to West’s 34 and outgained the visitors by 200 yards.
“This is one of the muddiest games we’ve played all year,” commented Knepp, “it was like ice skating out there. It’s real hard to make your cuts.”
The rain doesn’t undermine two great defensive efforts. Junior Cope recorded four tackles for loss from the linebacker position; West LB Jarrett Shugars- also their leading receiver- registered double digit tackles on the night.
“Usually there is an opening and my coaches always tell us to push through the open space,” explained Cope on the TFLs. “You try to pick your way through the garbage, you locate the ball and try to keep your head up.
“You have to keep your feet, especially in this game. You’ll latch on and they’ll just drag you because there is no friction.”
Pennridge benefited from three different heroes emerging in their first three wins. Knepp’s 159 yards on the ground sparked a shutout of Bensalem. Walbridge ran for 218 yards in the Rams’ 42-6 blowout of Plymouth-Whitemarsh. Ryan Metzler’s 84 yard kickoff return for a touchdown accented a win against Hatboro-Horsham…and possibly salvaged Pennridge’s season.
Knepp and Walbridge have rushed for nearly 1,200 yards this season. “We both have our designed plays,” compared Knepp. “Ian’s tend to go more up the middle, I’m more to the outside.
Knepp, a leader in Pennridge’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes, is quick to deflect credit. “I give God all the glory. Our line too, is why we do well. If it isn’t for the line making the blocks then we’re nowhere,” he said.
C.B. West has struggled this season, although five of their losses have been within two scores. Buck fans can anticipate two more full seasons of sophomore RB Jake Poeske; pesky Poeske (9 touches, 41 yards) led West in total yards during their prior three games. The sophomore averaged almost six yards per touch in that span.
Pennridge must win against C.B. South next week and then beat North Penn- a Ram Tough challenge- to be in the playoff mix. But if they do that, no one can accuse them of squirming into the post-season.
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