QUAKERTOWN – It’s tough to win a football game when you turn the ball over on your first two possessions. However, Neshaminy proved that it is indeed possible Friday night (Nov. 20) in front of a standing room only crowd at Alumni Field in its District 1-Class AAAA quarterfinal win over Quakertown.
The 13th-seeded Skins spotted the home team Panthers 14 points after turning the ball over on an interception then muffing a kickoff following Q-town’s first touchdown midway through the first quarter.
Ironically, Neshaminy (9-3) won the game the same way it fell behind early – with points scored off of turnovers. Junior RB Will Dogba (28-141, 2 TDs) reached the end zone twice in the final four minutes, propelling the Skins to a 31-17 triumph over the 12th-seeded Panthers (9-3).
With the win, Neshaminy advances to face No. 9 North Penn (10-2), a 27-14 victor over top seed and previously unbeaten Downingtown East (11-1). The district semifinal is set for Friday, Nov. 27 at Crawford Stadium. Unbeaten No. 3 seed Upper Dublin (12-0) will play the winner of Pennsbury-Perkiomen Valley in the other semifinal.
Leading the defensive charge for the Skins was senior defensive back Jack Spingler, who recorded four takeaways in the battle including three interceptions.
“Our defense just kept battling all night,” said Neshaminy head coach Steve Wilmot. “This is the third week I’m saying it but our defensive coaches had a great plan.”
“And our guys went out there and they just executed it.”
While the picks stopped three drives by the opponent, a fumble recovered by Spingler of a ball let loose by Panthers quarterback Tom Garlick (11-20-4, 120 yards, TD) near midfield with seven minutes to go in the contest loomed larger.
“I saw the quarterback scrambling and all of a sudden I saw the ball on the ground,” said Spingler. “I just knew I had to jump on it. Once I got there, I just grabbed it and held onto it.”
With the teams deadlocked at 17-all, it gave the visitors the opening they were looking for.
That’s when Dogba capped a 51-yard drive off with a 19-yard TD run, giving Neshaminy its first lead.
With three and a half minutes to go, Spingler snared his third interception in the playoff and Dogba capped off a 41-yard scoring drive with a 24-yard TD run, sealing the win in favor of the Skins.
While the heroics turned in by Spingler and Dogba helped decide it, Neshaminy senior wideout Denzel Hughes deserves most of the credit for helping the Skins rebound from an awful start.
On Neshaminy’s second possession, he gathered in a third-down pass tossed by quarterback Mason Jones (10-17-1, 144 yards, TD) along the left sideline then stutter stepped his way through a broken tackle for a 60-yard touchdown.
On the Skins’ third possession, Hughes hauled in a punt at the 25, raced backwards across the field to his right then outraced the Quakertown defense for a 78-yard kick return that tied the score at 14 apiece.
“It wasn’t a good way to start the game but Denzel’s punt return really turned the momentum around,” said Wilmot. “It was a game-changer.”
The Panthers scored all of their points in the first half and none after the break.
The way the game began, it was tough to envision the ending. On its first possession, Neshaminy had driven the ball down to the Panthers’ 31 yard line. But after a 4-yard burst by Dogba, Quakertown senior Kyle Baskin (2-24, TD) latched onto a Jones aerial near midfield and returned it to the Skins’ 32 yard line.
A 15-yard pass to Baskin along the right sideline and a 15-yard run by Panthers senior RB Jon Potynski (4-40) got the ball down to the two and then Baskin outjumped Hughes in the end zone for the touchdown pass from Garlick just 5:29 into the contest.
Less than a minute and a half later, Q-town doubled its lead after recovering a kickoff muffed by Neshaminy at its own 32 yard line. Six plays later, the Panthers were in the end zone again, with Garlick (9-72, TD) racing around the left end for a 16-yard scoring scamper.
A 14-point hole less than eight minutes into the battle wasn’t enough to worry Spingler, however.
“We knew we needed to sharpen up, go out there and keep playing hard,” said the senior. “We knew if we just executed the game plan, we’d come out with the ‘W.’”
By the end of the first quarter, the two big plays by Hughes got the teams even and Spingler grabbed his first interception on the third play of the second frame.
However, the Skins failed to capitalize off the pick when Q-town stopped Kyle Smith just inches short on fourth and-one at the Panthers’ 30 yard line.
Using a 15-play drive that took a lot of time off the clock, Quakertown took a 17-14 edge on Anthony Soriano’s 24-yard field goal with 1:57 to go in the first half. Some key plays on the drive for the Panthers included a 17-yard gainer by Potynski on a fake reverse and an 11-yard catch by senior WR Aaron Besch (5-42) on 3rd-and-10 at Neshaminy’s 25.
While an 11-yard burst by Q-town senior RB Rob Burns (19-63) put the ball at the three, Neshaminy defenders Daulton Fox, Zach Tredway and Parker Minotti tackled Panther ballcarriers on three ensuing touches forcing the home team to settle for a field goal.
Little did Quakertown know at the time it would be the last points it would register in the playoff battle.
Fittingly, the Skins ended any chance of a Panthers’ comeback in the final minutes with a turnover, this one an interception gathered in by Hughes at the one yard line.
Unfortunately for Quakertown, Baskin failed to hold onto a near interception in the end zone on Neshaminy’s first possession after the break. That allowed Skins kicker Dylan McDonald to come in and tie the score at 17-all with a 21-yard field goal with only seconds to go in the third quarter.
With three takeaways in the final frame, the fourth quarter was all Neshaminy.
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Neshaminy 31, Quakertown 17
(Nov. 20 at Quakertown)
NESHAMINY 14 0 3 14 – 31
QUAKERTOWN 14 3 0 0 – 17
Q — Baskin 7 pass from Garlick (Soriano kick)
Q — Garlick 28 run (Soriano kick)
N — Hughes 60 pass from Jones (McDonald kick)
N — Hughes 78 punt return (McDonald kick)
Q — FG Soriano 24
N — FG McDonald 22
N — Dogba 19 run (McDonald kick)
N — Dogba 24 run (McDonald kick)
First Downs 15 16
Yards Rushing 169 183
Yards Passing 144 120
Total Offense 313 303
Comp. Passes, Int 10-17-1 11-20-4
Fumbles-lost 2-1 3-1
Penalties-yards 2-20 4-45
Punts-Avg. 1-39 1-38
Sacked-Yds. Lost 1-5 1-7
RUSHING: Dogba 28-141, 2 TDs; Jones 3-15; Smith 1-0; Pirrone 2-13
PASSING: Jones 10-17-1, 144 yards, TD
RECEIVING: Tredway 1-9; Hughes 7-122, TD; Rooney 1-2; Spingler 1-11
INTERCEPTIONS: Spingler 3, Hughes
RUSHING: Potynski 4-40; Burns 19-63; Garlick 9-72, TD; Bonomo 1-8
PASSING: Garlick 11-20-4, 120 yards, TD
RECEIVING: Baskin 2-24, TD; Besch 5-42; Burns 3-54
|November 20, 2015||7:00 pm||2015|