Vikings Derail Zephyrs In Convincing Fashion To Advance To State Semifinals
By Brian Ptashinski @BPtashinski on Twitter
NORTHAMPTON- The spotlight shone brightly under the lights at Al Erdosy Stadium at Northampton Area High School Friday night as the District 12 5A champion Archbishop Wood Vikings took to the field boasting several top-notch legitimate Division I type recruits in their contest with District 11 Champion the Whitehall Zephyrs. When the final whistle sounded, the Zephyrs season ended in a 56-13 resounding loss to the Philadelphia Catholic League school.
“We knew coming in what kind of athletes Wood had,” Whitehall coach Brian Gilbert said. “That is an all-star team no question. Dez Boykin is about the only player on our roster who could compete with their talent. The problem was they have six or seven on those kind of athletes. It’s tough to matchup,” he concluded.
It didn’t take long for Wood to showcase all that talent, size and speed. On just the fourth play from scrimmage, running back Shaun Thompson ripped through a gap at the line of scrimmage and dashed his way to the end zone to open up the scoring. Thompson rushed for 279 yards on the evening on just 13 tallies. The Vikings in total amassed over 500 yards on the ground for the contest.
— Brian Ptashinski (@BPtashinski) November 26, 2016
The Vikings scored on their next four possessions giving them a 35-7 lead by intermission. After the Zephyrs punted on their first possession, it took Wood just one play to cover the 71 yards as quarterback Jack Colyar lofted a perfectly thrown ball to Georgia Bulldog commit Mark Webb. He sped down the sidelines for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead. Thompson’s backfield mate and Temple University recruit Raheem Blackshear took over from there, as he ended up with three scores on the night and added 134 yards in total.
Whitehall managed to get on the board with 5:31 left in the opening frame, as quarterback Zach Gilbert connected with Boykin on a 25-yard score on a fourth and seven play, to cut the lead to 14-7. That momentum would not last long as Wood answered with a 70-yard drive, culminating in Blackshear capping the drive with a 14-yard dash and a 21-7 lead. Blackshear would extend the lead to 28-7 on a six-yard score capping off a 66 yard drive with 10:18 left in the half.
The Zephyrs had a chance to cut the lead in half as they drove down to the Vikings one, but couldn’t capitalize. They turned the ball over on downs at the five. The Vikings needed four plays, all via the ground to cover the 95 yards. Blackshear took it in from 14 yards out and the lead swelled to 35-7.
“We told our kids at halftime, play like Zephyrs in the second half. Hold your head high,” Gilbert said to his dejected team. “We came back strong during the season after the loss to Nazareth and we finished strong. We need to build on this going forward,” he concluded.
In the second half, Wood put the game into mercy rule mode as Thompson ripped off a 69-yard jaunt with 5:34 to play in the third stanza. With most of their starters on the bench later in the half, the Vikings still managed to find paydirt two more times when Adrian Lambert cashed in from 15 yards out with under a minute left in the third quarter. Chris Blackstone scored on a three-yard run at the 4:40 mark of the fourth quarter capping off a 74-yard drive.
Whitehall did get into the end zone on the final play of the contest as Gilbert fought his way, carrying several tacklers along the way from nine yards out. The PAT was not attempted.
Archbishop Wood (9-2) will now advance to next week’s PIAA 5A State Semifinal against Academy Park (13-1), who defeated Springfield-Delco 24-18 Friday night, at a site and time TBD. Whitehall finishes their season at 9-5.
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