Mount Carmel over North Penn-Mansfield
MOUNT CARMEL – Mount Carmel had reason to be concerned at halftime of its District 4 Class 2A semifinal against North Penn-Mansfield on Saturday afternoon. Despite holding a 157-58 yards advantage over the Panthers, the Red Tornadoes only held a slim 14-7 lead, as it was hurt by 72 yards of penalties, which included a pair of touchdowns being called back.
But John Darrah wasn’t the slightest bit concerned. Instead, the Red Tornado coach had his team continue its bread and butter offensively, while the defense continued its strong performance for the remainder of the contest as both lines were dominant and Mount Carmel committed just one more penalty for the rest of the game, as Red Tornadoes pulled away in the second half and topped North Penn-Mansfield 34-14 to advance to next week’s championship game.
“I wasn’t concerned. I thought we were playing well and there’s nothing you can do about some of the stuff that happened,” said Darrah. “I felt confident the way we were playing but some unfortunate things happened. We talk about imposing our will and at halftime our guys were pretty fired up and the plan was just to come out and run it and we did a good job blocking and running.”
The Red Tornado defense dropped the Panthers for losses on 16 of the Panthers’ 49 offensive plays, including six sacks.
“We spent a lot of time defending their run this week,” said Darrah. “They presented some trouble with some of the screens they throw off the run game but our guys did a good job in the box really shutting the run game down.”
“We knew we were in for an uphill battle but our kids came in and competed and made it 14-7 at half but they wore us down like I’m sure they did to many teams,” said North Penn coach Tom Dickinson. “They’re a big, physical football team and they instilled their will and we had trouble stopping them and that’s their type of game so hats off to them.”
Although Mount Carmel was largely dominant up front on both sides during the first half, outgaining North Penn 140-35 on the ground in the first half, they took it up another notch in the second half as they started the second half by putting together long drives that both ended in touchdowns, effectively putting the game away by the end of the third quarter.
The Red Tornadoes received the kickoff to open the second half and from there, put together a nine-play, 80-yard drive that took over four minutes, and was capped by John Ayres’ four-yard touchdown. All nine plays on the drive were rushes, including a 25-yard run by Shane Weidner that flipped field position. That play was the just the start of what would be a big second half for Weidner, who finished with 178 yards on 17 carries, 154 of which came in the second half. Ayers finished with 112 yards on 21 carries with three touchdowns.
On North Penn’s ensuing drive, Mount Carmel forced the Panthers into punting after a short four-play drive, and the Panthers pinned Mount Carmel deep at their own 13-yard line about halfway through the third quarter.
That field position would be of no worry for the Red Tornadoes, who proceeded to go 87 yards in 11 plays, all rushes, and Ayres finished the drive again with a five-yard plunge into the end zone to put Mount Carmel on top 27-7 with :36 left in the quarter.
Weidner busted loose for a 24-yard run with 7:02 left in the fourth quarter to put the Red Tornadoes up 34-7 before North Penn was able to answer on a 76-yard touchdown pass from Brent Burleigh to Justin Shedd with 5:33 remaining. That touchdown pass, which barely made it above the outstretched hands of the Mount Carmel defensive back, was responsible for nearly half of North Penn’s 159 yards of total offense on the contest.
Burleigh finished with 131 yards passing on 10-of-15 passing with two touchdowns and an interception. Shedd caught three passes for 92 yards but North Penn’s running game was bottled up by Mount Carmel as the Red Tornado defense held North Penn to just 28 rushing yards on 34 carries.
“We picked up a couple of first downs here and there but just couldn’t put it together,” said Dickinson. “The kids worked hard at it but that’s what happens when you face good football teams at this time of year.”
North Penn scored its earlier touchdown on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Burleigh to Dylan Meyer, who snagged the ball in the front left corner of the end zone against good coverage. That play capped a drive that was set up by an interception by Cameron Andrews who returned it 26 yards to the Mount Carmel 28. A pair of Mount Carmel penalties gave North Penn 21 free yards before the touchdown pass, which came on a fourth-and-goal play.
An 88-yard return for a touchdown by Weidner on the ensuing kickoff was called back due to a block in the back penalty, and Mount Carmel’s drive was stalled just before halftime when Reisinger was pickoff off for the second time.
Aside from that five-play scoring drive by North Penn in the first half, the Red Tornado defense only allowed the Panthers to run eight of their other 29 plays from Mount Carmel territory in the first half.
Earlier in the half, after Mount Carmel had its first score called back due to a holding penalty on its first drive of the game, an interception by Weidner set up the Red Tornadoes near midfield midway through the first quarter. Three plays later, Tom Reisinger, who finished with 52 rushing yards, ran a bootleg around the left side and found the end zone from 18 yards out to give Mount Carmel a 7-0 lead.
Another solid defensive possession combined with a bad snap on North Penn’s punt again set up Mount Carmel near midfield to start its next drive, and the Red Tornadoes methodically marched down the field in seven plays, capped by Ayres’ first of three touchdowns to go up 14-0 on the second play of the second quarter.
Mount Carmel 34, North Penn-Mansfield 14
North Penn-Mansfield (9-3) 0 7 0 7 – 14
Mount Carmel (10-2) 7 7 13 7 – 34
4:23 – (MC) Tom Reisinger 18-yard run (Julien Stellar kick), 3-53, 1:12
11:48 – (MC) John Ayres 3-yard run (Stellar kick), 7-52, 1:49
2:19 – (NP) Dylan Meyer 11-yard pass from Brent Burleigh (Kevin Alexander kick), 5-28, 2:02
7:59 – (MC) John Ayres 4-yard run (Stellar kick), 9-80, 4:01
:36 – (MC) John Ayres 5-yard run (kick failed), 11-87, 5:21
7:02 – (MC) Shane Weidner 24-yard run (Stellar kick), 4-50, 1:19
5:33 – (NP) Justin Shedd 76-yard pass from Brent Burleigh (Alexander kick), 3-75, 1:29
First downs 9 22
Rushes-net yards 34-28 55-368
Passing yardage 131 17
Passing 10-15-2-1 1-8-0-2
Fumbles-lost 3-0 1-0
Penalties-yards 2-10 9-74
RUSHING: North Penn-Mansfield: Micah Kolb (15-10), Brent Burleigh (9-(-12)), Garrett David (8-27), Noah Spencer (2-3); Mount Carmel: John Ayres (21-112-3), Shane Weidner (17-178-1), Tom Reisinger (8-52-1), Noah Berkoski (5-24), Julien Stellar (1-4), Tyler Owens (1-1), Damon Dowkus (1-0), Dylan Pupo (1-(-3))
PASSING: North Penn-Mansfield: Brent Burleigh (10-15-131-2-1); Mount Carmel: Tom Reisinger (1-8-17-0-2)
RECEIVING: North Penn-Mansfield: Justin Shedd (3-92-1), Sawyer Freeman (2-17), Dylan Meyer (2-7-1), Micah Kolb (1-15), Garrett David (1-3), Noah Spencer (1-(-3)); Mount Carmel: Shane Weidner (1-17)
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