Needhammer and Taggart Tag Team Dismantles Downingtown East
Lansdale, Pa. – Behind a blistering running attack, the North Penn Knights outmuscled the Downingtown East Cougars 49-33. Seniors Craig Needhammer and Dominic Taggart let the Knights in the District 1 AAAA playoff game last night at North Penn’s James Crawford stadium.
The Knights took control immediately on their first series with a seven play, 70-yard drive with quarterback Corey Ernst scampering in for the TD from seven yards out. The Cougars then went on their own nine play drive but had to settle for a Tyler Mayes 24 yard field goal after their drive stalled on the Knights eight yard line.
On their next play from scrimmage the Knight’s offensive line led by center TJ Smink opened a hole a mile wide for Needhammer to run through and sprinted 70 yards for a TD and a 14-3 lead. On Downingtown’s next drive a lost fumble led to another quick score, this one a 39 yard strike from Ernst to Taggart for a 21-3 lead.
Following another Needhammer touchdown run (this one from 24 yards out) things went from bad to worse for the Cougars when Quarterback Trey Lauletta was intercepted by Gerard Wendowski, who turned it into a 55 yard touchdown and a North Penn 35-3 lead.
Downingtown East began to build some momentum of their own scoring on their next two possessions (a two yard and 14 yard TD by Junior Drew Harris). Both teams then traded touchdowns (a 17 yarder by the Knights Taggart and a Cougar 29 yard pass from Lauletta to Jeff Whitaker). The Cougars then recovered an onside kick and drove to the North Penn12 yard line. Lauletta scored on a 12 yard run apparently putting the Cougars to within 10 points but the play was called back due to a holding call. Lauletta was then sacked on the next play and lost a fumble killing whatever momentum Downingtown East had. The Knights put an exclamation point on the game with a nine play drive ending with Taggart’s 2 yard touchdown.
Needhammer ran for 200 yards and two TD’s while Taggart toted for 170 yards and three scores. The offensive line for North Penn was dominant throughout. Smink, Marcus McGraw, Willie Kye, Cliff Kim and Matt Donovan were very effective in controlling the Downingtown East defensive front.
North Penn (11-1) advances to the D1 Semifinals taking on Council Rock South next week. Downingtown East, with a prolific offense that averaged 35 points per game finished their season at 9-3.
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