Towanda steals one From North Penn in OT.
BLOSSBURG: The Black Knights of Towanda had a real scare to start their 2009 season. After an hour-long trip west to take on the Panthers of North Penn, they started out well by jumping to a 14-0 lead. On their very first series they traveled 63 yards on five plays, which began with a well executed dump screen to Travis Chesla by quarterback Dakota Roof, and capped by a two yard draw run by Kodi Thompson. The extra point missed, making it 6-0 less than four minutes into the contest. Early in the second quarter Towanda put together a sustained eleven play drive which reached the endzone on a 15-yard toss to Nate Bennett. Another quick throw to Chesla converted for two points making the lead 14-0.
North Penn, on the other hand, continued to struggle as they went three-and-out on their first three offensive series. But the tide began to change after their third punt of the night when Towanda fumbled the ball on the return over to North Penn’s Logan Wise. With great field position at their opponent’s 23 yard-line, the Panthers started making things happen. Tyler House hauled in a pass from Mackey Stiner for twelve yards. Then Ryan Dinger took it in from the five yard-line to score. Two plays after the kick-off Towanda’s Roof was intercepted by Greg Pomarico, setting up a field-goal attempt which failed on a high snap. However, two plays after that, North Penn’s Dinger picked off another pass and ran it all the way to the Towanda 22 yard-line. A screen pass to Dinger netted 18 more, down to the three, where Skye Stiner ran it it for the tying score. The half ended at 14-14.
The Black Knights regrouped at half-time and came out in the third quarter with another sustained drive of twelve plays and 59 yards. They held the lead again at 21-14.
Early in the fourth quarter, North Penn battled back to a 21-all tie, on a 10-yard touchdown catch by Dinger. The Panther defense came up big, stopping Towanda after three plays and forcing a punt. Then Marquis Delgado ran around the left side and broke free for a 47-yard TD, giving North Penn its first lead of the night at 28-21.
Towanda was not about to give up though. Hard running by Chesla and Roof, along with a 12 yard reception by Dean Frutchey, got the Knights within striking distance. Chesla got to first-and-goal on an 11-yard run to the one yard-line and the took it in from there on the next play. With the score knotted at 28 each, both defenses held strong through the end of regulation.
Towanda had the first shot at scoring in overtime. Chesla had rushes of five and four yards to get the TD. The P.A.T. by Roof extended the lead to 35-28.
Now it was the Panthers’ chance. After a sack on the first play drove them back to the seventeen, a strike from Mackey Stiner to younger brother Skye found the endzone. However, on the ensuing P.A.T. attempt the snap was low and caused the kick to be low as well. The Black Knight defense batted it away and won the game in heart-break fashion over North Penn, 35-34.
Overall, I think most fans were surprised by the Panthers’ good showing against an always tough Towanda team, even if it came up a point short. They showed they could hang in there with the best in their league. While the Black Knights showed resilience, being able to battle back despite three turn-overs and many mental mistakes. It should be an interesting season in the NTL. North Penn(0-1) travels to Cowanesque Valley next week to take on the Indians (0-1). Towanda will try to continue their winning ways at home against the Sayre Redskins (0-1).
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