Pennridge Wins Defensive Battle
To Run in the October 26th Bucks County Herald
Pennridge wide out Joe Devine’s fourth down, 19-yard touchdown reception put the host Rams up 14-0 against CB South. It was the eventual winning score in the Rams’ 21-7 win.
More importantly, Devine picked off a Titan pass on the game’s third play. Pennridge snagged five interceptions Friday night- a huge turnaround for a defense that gave up significant passing yards to William Tennent the week before.
“My coaches were on me all week and I was on me all week,” Devine admitted. “The whole backfield knew we had to step up. We had hours of 7-on-7 getting the scheme right. We came out tonight and performed. I’m proud of my guys.”
“I have total respect for what South does and the athletes they have so I’m really pleased we’re sitting with the win,” added Ram coach Jeff Hollenbach, who chalked up the plethora of picks to “player’s heart. We’ve seen a lot of offenses already and the kids were determined to win this game.”
After the Devine pick, Pennridge star Nick Tarburton caught a batted 4th and eight pass for eight yards and an inch, giving the Rams new life. The Rams capped their nine play, 50-yard drive with a Ryan Garner 13 yard touchdown juke.
“It was very well blocked,” said Garner, whose 118 yards on 17 carries led all rushers. “I saw a lane outside, a read, and I took it.”
South (6-3, 3-2 SOL Continental) punted and Pennridge (7-2, 4-1 Continental) moved 80 yards in 13 plays. Devine’s touchdown catch capped the drive.
“He was giving me the inside and I made a move,” Devine described. “(Quarterback) Zak (Kantor) put it on the money like he does and I came down with it.”
“Zak made some great decisions,” Hollenbach commended. “The touchdown pass with Joey: we had trips formation on the right and good patterns there. I said on the sideline that we might get single coverage with Joey on the post. (Zak) went right to it, took it and made a great play.”
“I have to give credit to (South’s) Matt Morris and Noah Collachi,” said starting right tackle Stephen Dadio. “They’re both great players. Our backs made great plays. Sometimes we had nothing but our backs took it into something.
“The second half didn’t work as well; they brought more guys. But in the first half we were aggressive,” Dadio concluded, “and hit harder than them.”
After a Titan three-and-out, the Ram offense refused to leave the playing field. Kyle Schetter’s one-yard touchdown was the fifth third down that Pennridge converted on their 15 play, 61 yard drive. Pennridge took a 21-0 lead with 4:06 left in the half.
And with that, the offenses were done for the night. South scored early in the third quarter when Sean Charpentier pounced on an errant Pennridge snap in the end zone.
The Rams picked up just 91 yards on 38 second half plays. South twice stopped the Rams on fourth down inside the Titan-25.
CB South racked up just 118 yards all game. Their biggest scoring threat was snuffed midway in the third quarter when Nick Tarburton wrapped up tailback Ryan Watson for a two-yard, fourth down loss at the Ram-41.
Kantor completed 14 of 23 passes for 120 yards. Devine’s 45 receiving yards and Josh Pinkney’s five catches paced Pennridge. South counterpart Ryan Schoch- the third Titan forced to start at quarterback this season as injuries took their toll- threw for 45 yards on 10 completions. Schoch led the Titans with 49 rushing yards.
Cooper Chaikin, playing his first 2017 game, had two interceptions for Pennridge. South linebackers Matt Norris and Matt Tobey had superlative games. The two combined for 11 ½ tackles for loss.
“They’re very, very tough kids with good instincts,” said South head coach Tom Hetrick. “Their linebackers coach, Pat Smith, does an unbelievable job with them. They’re fearless and they play downhill. They eat space, they play the box and they can play from hash to hash.”
Two weeks ago, South lost to Neshaminy in overtime. Last week, South blocked a point after try with one second left to defeat archrival CB West 21-20.
“For the second year running, we have a pretty intense gauntlet,” Hetrick pointed out. “You have to re-juice yourself. Clearly we came out in the first half and didn’t play like we’re capable of playing. The way we’re capable of playing is how we played in the second half. That was the character check and we have to build off of that.”
Pennridge entered Friday night ranked 8th in the District 1 6A power rankings; CB South ranked ninth. If the Rams can beat a strong CB East team next Friday, they should host a playoff game.
“The game plan was to just be ready and play with confidence,” Garner shared.
Dadio, a bass, sang the National Anthem with the Pennridge choir. Afterwards, he led his team in singing their alma mater.
“I’m one of only two players who know it,” he said
On Friday, Dadio helped to lead his team in more ways than one.
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