Pennridge beats CB South; Wins 3rd in a row
By Don Leypoldt
From the October 29th issue of the Bucks County Herald
The wheel route went right into Zack Knepp’s wheelhouse.
Knepp, a senior cornerback for the Pennridge Rams (6-3, 3-2), astutely read Central Bucks South (3-6, 1-5) wide receiver Mike Doty’s route and intercepted a Tom Johns fourth down pass at the Rams’ 10 with 40 seconds left in the game. The pick preserved both Pennridge’s 35-28 Senior Night win and their playoff hopes.
“I saw the route coming the whole way and got in front of it,” said Knepp, a senior.
“It’s one of the greatest victories I’ve ever had,” declared senior co-captain and tight end Matt Pattison.
“We all knew that this could be our last home game. We stepped it up in the first half. Our defense was struggling a little bit but we made some adjustments,” said senior quarterback Brad Herrmann, who ended the game with 193 yards of total offense.
“We challenged our guys and they responded. We were physical in the second half and we played real tough in the second half. I’m proud of them,” noted C.B. South coach Bart Szarko
The pick overshadowed the insert-superlative-here performance of Doty, who snagged six passes for 152 yards and went well over the 1,000 yard receiving mark for the season.
“He’s the best wide receiver I’ve ever played against. We actually had one of the coaches acting as him in practice this week,” Knepp said.
It also overshadowed the 42 point scoring volcano which violently erupted in the second quarter.
Herrmann (12 for 23, 152 yards) completed 54 yards of passes to Pattison, which enabled Pennridge to take the game’s opening drive to the Titan six. But linebacker Julian Gulbinski killed the drive by sacking the slippery Herrmann for a nineteen yard loss on fourth down.
Doty then capped an eight play drive by sprinting 36 yards for a touchdown on a crossing route.
“We knew they were going to double cover me and we focused on getting it across the middle. I had great downfield blocking which helped me score the touchdowns,” said the 6’3” senior.
Pennridge responded with a nine play, 63 yard drive of their own, which ended when running back Ryan Metzler turned up the left side of the line and burst 21 yards for a touchdown.
“I saw a blitz and Pattison had a great kick out block. I just tucked the ball up in and there was the hole,” commented Metzler
A squib kick gave the Titans the ball at the Ram 48.
On the drive’s second play, sophomore quarterback Bobby DiPasquale ran 49 yards to the endzone. It gave the visitors a 14-6 lead. “We wanted to try and take advantage of Bobby’s athleticism and we felt he could give us a spark, which he did tonight,” said Szarko.
Then it was C.B. South’s turn to give the Rams good field position- at their own 46. Jesse Knepp- Zach’s younger brother- capped the 54 yard drive by punching in a touchdown from the one.
“Their defense was very fast and strong. I have to give them credit for the line because they’re the ones that drove them back,” said Jesse Knepp. Herrmann hit Erik Weichel on a slant for the conversion.
A successful onsides kick gave the Rams the ball back at the Titan 48. “We decided to do the onside because we were worried about giving Doty the ball. I think all three phases contributed to the win tonight,” said Pennridge head coach Randy Cuthbert.
Four plays later, on a fourth and one halfback option pass, Ian Walbridge connected with a wide open Caleb Swartley who streaked down the right sideline for a 39 yard score.
Olivia O’Neill- Pennridge’s homecoming queen- made the extra point to give the Rams a short lived 21-14 lead.
The Titans got the ball back and five plays into their drive, Johns connected with Doty on another crossing route. The explosive 6’3” senior took the ball 60 yards to the house.
Herrmann’s ten yard dash to the end zone- after failing to find an open receiver- capped the Rams’ response: a penalty aided 60 yard scoring march. Pennridge took a 28-21 lead into the half.
Those penalties made a Titanic impact on the game- C.B. South was flagged for 111 yards worth of violations.
But the penalties didn’t seem to matter when Johns plunged into the end zone with 4:55 left in the game, tying it at 28. Heejun Yang, C.B. South’s bowling ball of a running back, sparked the 75 yard, 12 play drive with several big runs. Yang led all rushers with 59 yards on nine carries.
Metzler returned the ensuing kickoff 36 yards to the Rams’ 47. With 2:12 in the game, Walbridge took a handoff around the left side of the line and scampered the 11 yards for what proved to be the game winning touchdown.
Doty- thanks to an outrageously difficult 21 yard juggling catch- helped to move the ball as far as the Rams’ 22 when C.B. South got possession back. That was the high watermark of the drive until Zach Knepp’s pick.
The win puts Pennridge back in the PIAA playoff conversation. Cuthbert’s Rams opened the season with a three game winning streak, suffered a three game losing streak and completed a second three-game win streak with the C.B. South victory.
Cuthbert observed, “When we lost the three in a row, we dug a hole and North Catholic was more physical than us. But (the) Souderton and East (losses) could have gone either way. They were heartbreaking losses. But our kids watched the film and saw that a couple of things here and there, maybe we’re looking at just one loss.
“They really circled the wagons and battled. It’s a credit to them to come back from dropping three and win three tight games.”
Across the sideline, they are teaching a new math at C.B. South: 10 equals six. Doty- who wears #10- scored his 14th and 15th touchdowns of the season.
A June transfer from Germantown Academy, Doty gives Szarko arguably the best wide receiver in the SOL…a year after Szarko had arguably the best running back in the SOL in the dynamic Eric Reynolds.
“As a high school coach, you really have to take advantage of what you have since you can’t recruit. Every year, we just try to adjust. Last year, we ran the ball 90% of the time. This year- some by game situations and others by who we have- we’re throwing the ball a little bit more,” said Szarko.
“I knew Johns before I came here and I had a really hard workout in the offseason. It just shows that hard workouts do pay off,” is how Doty explains his quick adjustment to Titan football.
“Doty is a special player and his quarterback (Johns) played great. Some of his catches were unbelievable and you just put your hands up,” said Cuthbert on the unenviable task of trying to stop him.
C.B. South can end their season on a high note with a Halloween victory over arch-rival C.B. East. “We’ve got to be ready to go on Monday to get after them. We’re already 1-0 in our rival games,” Szarko told his troops, referring to their 21 point win over C.B. West on September 26th.
Pennridge has a tough road to hoe in their finale, traveling to unbeaten North Penn. But this deep and balanced team-10 different Rams had a touch on offense- is bursting with confidence.
Said Herrmann, “We knew what it meant to win this game playoff wise. Coach said that we had to treat this like a playoff game and that is exactly what we did.”
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