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Football: Big Plays Mar Strong Q’Town Effort

Written by: on Friday, September 27th, 2013. Follow Don Leypoldt on Twitter.


donweek52013To run in the October 3rd Bucks County Herald

Looks can be deceiving.

The North Penn Knights (2-3) have a losing record.…thanks to opening the season with three losses against three state title contenders.

The Knights rolled to their second straight impressive SOL Continental win, a 28-7 victory at Quakertown (3-2) on Friday, but the score did not do the Panthers’ defensive effort justice.

“I told the kids after the game that that scoreboard doesn’t indicate how well you played tonight.  It’s probably only a 14-point game,” relayed Quakertown head coach George Banas.  “We let up two big plays and we knew those plays could be our Achilles’ Heel because of what we were doing defensively.

“One was a quarterback counter and they got it.  Kudos to them.  But our defense played lights out.  They held a very good team- a top tier team- and we played them really hard and never gave up.”

North Penn’s defense was a little better than their hosts’.  The Knights held Quakertown to just five first downs.

But remove two plays, and the Panthers yielded just 154 yards all game.  Banas’ “D” forced four three-and-outs and recovered two North Penn fumbles.

“Just reading the fullback and their guards and going to the ball,” credited Panther junior linebacker Hunter Nice.  Nice, unofficially, had four tackles for loss or no gain.  Teammate and lineman Andrew Varichione recorded two tackles for loss.

Sophomore running back Nyfease West (15 carries for 138 yards) broke the scoreless tie with an 81-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter, giving North Penn a 7-0 lead.

Knight cornerback Michael Liddy then became the hero of this defensive standoff, picking off Quakertown passes in consecutive series and giving the Knights two short fields.  Quarterback Austin Shearer (7-for-12, 70 yards) hit wide out Justin Hudimac on a 9-yard touchdown pass to cap a two-play drive.  Fullback Luke Berry rumbled into the end zone from five yards out to cap a five-play drive the next time they touched the ball.

North Penn expanded their lead to 28-0 late in the third quarter when Shearer called his number on the counter and ran for a 50-yard score.

Down but not out, Quakertown recovered a North Penn fumble midway in the fourth quarter.  Two plays later, backup quarterback Pat San Angelo hit wide receiver Ryan Heegard on a beautiful go route that went for a 45-yard touchdown.

Quakertown threatened again late in the game.  Mason Schmauder recovered a Knight fumble on the next series and took it 28 yards to the NP-10.  Time expired before the Panthers could score.

The game served as a recovery for the Panthers’ defense.  Quakertown won their first three games by at least 17 points.  But the Panthers yielded more points in their loss to Pocono Mountain East than to their first three opponents combined.

“We were pushing the ball on offense and our defense played well,” explained Nice on the win streak.

Banas credited the line of scrimmage for Quakertown’s strong start.  “Our offensive line dominated those three games as did our defensive line,” he noted.  “If we can get back to that mentality where we’re able to dominate the lines…our offense had 15 and 16 play drives, which helps our defense by keeping them off the field.”

Quakertown doesn’t have one star; the Panthers spread the wealth.  Against North Penn, senior Micah Ruch was the most effective runner, averaging nearly six yards per carry.  But classmate Matt Stoneback is the bell cow, rushing for seven touchdowns and nearly 400 yards on this season.

“Early on in the year, Stoneback was getting 17 or 20 touches,” Banas observed.  “People started loading up on him so obviously you have to spread it around and make sure that they are playing balanced defense against you.  Once they’re balanced out, you can go back to Stoneback because he is a really good back for us.”

Stoneback is also effective as a punter.  Utilizing just one step, and facing heavy rushes this evening, the senior averaged nearly 33 yards per kick and helped to give North Penn long fields.

Quakertown hosts Hatboro-Horsham, a winnable game, this coming Friday.  Concluded Banas, “We have to work on our passing game and pick that up a little bit but overall, I was really proud of the kids and the effort that they gave tonight.”

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