Tailback Duo, O-Line, Carry North Penn Through
By Ryan Fitzpatrick, EasternPaFootball.Com
Lansdale, PA – Neshaminy’s defense made it tough early, dishing out cold, hard hits, but North Penn playmakers Dan Gevirtz and Kyle Mayfield combined for 249 yards of offense as the Knights rolled to a 21-7 victory over the Redskins in a District 1, AAAA quarterfinal game at North Penn’s Crawford stadium.
A lot of history surrounds these familiar foes, with the most recent chapter coming in a 42-6 North Penn win in last year’s District 1 final. Covering almost 30 years under their respective helms between the two of them, coaches Dick Beck of North Penn and Mark Schmidt of Neshaminy have both won state titles and seemingly know they have to go through each other to move on. There was nothing different in this hard fought 2011 installment.
After a quick three-and-out by the Redskin offense to start the game, the Corey Ernst led Knight offense looked like it picked up where it left off in last week’s 48-21 win over West Chester Rustin, capping a three minute drive with a 15 yard touchdown pass to WR Dan Gevirtz. Neshaminy delivered a message of their own on their next possession with six straight runs, culminating in a four yard tally by senior Sean Ulmer. The gritty drive went in motion with a 33 yard reception by Mike Koder from the arm of QB Joe Bianchino. Five more minutes ticked off the clock, and the game was tied at seven with 2:50 left in the first quarter.
The defense took center stage with four straight three-and-outs. Both quarterbacks had trouble advancing the ball. Bianchino looked rushed with all the attention the Knight defensive line was giving him. A glimmer of momentum for the Redskins seemed to bounce their way as a beautiful 51 yard punt turned muffed catch by Gevirtz gave them excellent field position. North Penn’s defense held the Redskins in check and another well placed punt backed the Knights down to their own three yard line with eight minutes left in the first half. Five plays later, last week’s WR turned RB, Gevirtz showed his power play potential with a 76-yard scoot to the outside for a touchdown. Both teams traded the ball and ate clock as the Knights took their 14-7 lead into halftime.
The second half seemed littered with penalties, as the mistakes and defenses caused both offenses to halt. Neither team was driving very deep, but as the clock continued to tick, North Penn started to pull away in total offense. As the clock struck zero to mark the end of the third quarter, the Redskin total offense had just been able to eclipse the 100 yard mark while North Penn had racked up over 300 yards.
The fourth quarter started with a Neshaminy short run and two incomplete passes. After a Redskin punt the Knights’ offensive line which has been one of their major strengths all season began to take the game over. Led by John Garland and T.J. Smink, the O-line shoved their way to free up space for both Gevirtz and Mayfield. Mayfield’s power was undeniable with some great explosiveness through the middle of the defense. Nine runs, and a fourth down Redskin encroachment penalty set up a six yard touchdown pass from Ernst to Danny Wynne. The drive not only put the Knights up by two scores, but shaved almost six minutes off the clock late in the final stanza and in effect, the game.
The win assures the Knights a home D1, AAAA semifinal matchup next week against Pennsbury, who overtook Coatesville in their quarterfinal win. Neshaminy ends their season at 8-4 and with a number of starters returning should contend in the Suburban One National Conference next year.
Notes: This is the sixth consecutive year that these two teams have met in the District 1 playoffs. Schmidt won his state title in 2001, Beck in 2003. The Knights held Ulmer who has rushed for over 1,200 yards, to 39 yards on 17 carries. Senior Ralph Reeves contributed some monster hits on defense.
Scoring by Quarter
North Penn: Gevirtz: 15 pass from Ernst: PAT: Brandon Mandes: 7:12
Neshaminy: Ulmer: 4 run: PAT: Nick Tucci: 2:50
North Penn: Gevirtz: 76 run: PAT: Brandon Mandes: 5:39
North Penn: Dan Wynne: 6 yard pass from Ernst: PAT: Brandon Mandes: 4:54
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