Bad Knight for Neshaminy
The two halves of North Penn’s 28-0 District One championship win at William Tennent’s field on a frigid Friday were like day and night.
In the first half, the #3 seed Neshaminy Redskins stood toe to toe with #1 seed North Penn.
But the second half was all (North Penn) Knight.
“This was absolutely a team effort, from the starters all the way to the backups,” North Penn coach Dick Beck told his happy charges after the game.
The Redskins opened the game with an impressive 13 play, 45 yard drive that advanced the ball to the Knight 19. Seth Jeffries just pushed his 36 yard field goal attempt wide left.
Despite Neshaminy’s apparent size advantage- all of their offensive linemen weigh at least 240 pounds- Knight stand out running back Ronnie Akins broke through the left side of the line, cut right and sprinted 42 yards for a touchdown seven plays into North Penn’s opening drive.
“Our undersized offensive line got low all game. They came through for us,“ said running back/ linebacker Tyler Smith.
Neshaminy threatened again late in the second quarter, moving the ball 41 yards on six plays. Smith picked off a Brian Titus (9 for 18, 113 yards) pass to kill the drive. It was one of four Redskin turnovers.
The Knights, who were outgained 142-95 yards in the first half, took a slim 7-0 lead into intermission. But they pieced together an impressive 13 play, 80 yard touchdown march to open the second half. Smith’s 31 yard run on the half’s third play broke the drive open, and he punched it in from the one to make it 14-0.
In a curious call, Neshaminy went for it at fourth and one at their own 29 once they got ball back. Running back Quilan Arnold (6 carries for 41 yards) was stuffed by linebackers Andrew Stoll and Smith. With the short field, North Penn needed just six plays to reach the end zone. Akins scored his second touchdown of the night on a 10 yard jet sweep to the left, making it 21-0.
Stoll stopped a Neshaminy scoring drive with a key interception in the third quarter. “I backed up, saw the pressure on the quarterback and just happened to be there,” he described.
North Penn got the ball back at their own 36 with 6:20 left in the game. Akins sprinted 45 yards off tackle on the right side on the second play of the drive, taking it to the N-10. On third and goal at the five, quarterback Justin Davey hit Akins on a fade for the final touchdown of the game.
The thermometer- which hovered at 35 degrees all evening- was the only thing that could stop the red hot Akins and Smith. The former ran for 145 yards on 14 carries; Smith lugged the rock 11 times for 81 yards.
Tailback Bryan Dean (14 carries for 60 yards) and fullback Jay Colbert (12 carries for 57 yards) paced the Redskins.
North Penn (14-0) averages nearly 37 points per game and has won 12 of their contests by at least 17 points. Against AAAA playoff teams this season, the Knights are 9-0, having outscored their opponents 317-108.
Akins won the 2008 SOL Continental Player of the Year. In the first three games of the playoffs, Akins picked up 562 yards on 41 touches and scored eight touchdowns. His performance almost overshadowed that of 1,000 yard rusher Tyler Smith, who ran for 210 yards and four scores in North Penn’s 51-21 rout of Downingtown West last week.
While North Penn generally won with their electric offense, coach Mark Schmidt’s Neshaminy (12-2) team was apt to beat teams with a punishing defense. Despite tonight’s performance, the 2008 Redskins averaged surrendering less than 10 points per game, thanks to four consecutive shutouts that they registered in September and October.
Paul Carrazola, Neshaminy’s Rutgers-bound tight end anchors the monstrous offensive line, whose starters average 261 pounds.
North Penn faces the winner of tomorrow’s standoff at Northeast High School between District 12 champ Washington (10-1) and favored District 11 champion Bethlehem Liberty (12-1). Liberty’s only blemish was an 8 point opening night defeat at the hands of North Penn.
North Penn will worry about the Liberty-Washington winner tomorrow during the day. For now, Frankie Valli’s classic “Oh what a (K)night” is apropos.
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