Imhotep Survives and Advances To Hershey
SLATINGTON- Interim football coach Kyle Haas preached to his football team all week about playing for each other and playing Bethlehem Catholic football. He wanted them prepared for their opponent Imhotep Charter out of Philadelphia Friday night at Bulldog Stadium on the Northern Lehigh High School campus. When the dust settled Imhotep managed to survive a gutsy and outstanding Golden Hawk challenge by a 24-13 margin to advance to next week’s 4A state championship in Hershey. The Panthers (13-0) will face Erie Cathedral Prep (13-0) in a rematch of last years’ state 3A title game, won by Imhotep by a 40-3 score.
“We thought if we could get them into the fourth quarter, we may tire them (Imhotep) out being they are not used to having the starters in in second half of their games,” Haas said afterwards.
The Golden Hawk defense was challenged early in the contest, as two drives by the Panthers were snuffed out by the swarming Becca defense inside the red zone in the first half. Imhotep broke through the stalemate with just 58 seconds gone in the second quarter as Chris Wells scored from eight yards out. Imhotep does not use a placekicker so they went for two, came up empty, but led 6-0.
Bethlehem Catholic had an answer on the ensuing drive, when running back Damien Diaz cashed in from two yards out. Anthony SaSilva connected on the point after, giving the Hawks a 7-6 lead with 7:14 left before half.
A wild sequence of events occurred to close out the half. Imhotep went on a 64-yard drive on their next possession with Isheem Young finishing it with an eight-yard score. The two-point conversion failed again leaving the score at 12-7. On the Golden Hawks possession, they were forced to punt. The ball took a bounce near midfield, where returner Young tried scooping the ball up. He batted it forward where it was recovered by Becahi at the Imhotep 48. Quarterback Javon Clements connected with Karim Powell as the the wind held the ball up. Powell adjusted better then his defender and outran his pursuers into the end zone. The point after clanked off the upright leaving the score at 13-12, led for the Hawks. Imhotep took advantage of a big kickoff return by Aamir Brown to set his team up on the 45 of Bethlehem Catholic. Two plays later Nasir Boykins found Brown in the end zone from 35 yards out with just 32 seconds on the clock, giving the Panthers a 18-13 lead at intermission.
“That score before half, was a turning point. We could have had the lead at 13-12. It changed the momentum,” Haas mentioned. Both defenses settled back in the second half, as The Hawks forced a Imhotep punt and they made another stop of the potent Panther offense, turning them over inside the Hawk 20. Imhotep also stepped up to the challenge by stopping a Bethlehem Catholic drive to the Panthers 20.
With just under five minutes left in the contest, the Golden Hawks caught a break when Brandon Kelly picked off an errant Boykins pass and retuned it to the Panthers 38. From there the drive went sour, in their bid for the monumental upset as a penalty and a sack pushed Becahi backward. Then a bad snap on punt gave possession to the Panthers on the Hawks 38. Imhotep was facing a third and eight. Boykins, running a perfectly setup bootleg play, slipped by the would-be tacklers on his way to the end zone. The Panthers failed on their fourth conversion leaving the score 24-13.
Desperation set in for Bethlehem Catholic team trailing by two scores with about two minutes to play. Knowing they would be passing on every down, Imhotep rushed Clements on every play, forcing him to throw a game clinching interception.
Imhotep coach Mark Schmidt stated, “We were tested tonight, like no other time all season. I didn’t know how we would respond, but we stepped up and made plays when we had too. Credit to that team(Bethlehem Catholic). They did a heck of a job,” he concluded.
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