ABINGTON >> Council Rock South had to be feeling good about itself entering halftime Friday night against the home team Abington.
Trailing the Galloping Ghosts 14-7 after the first quarter, the Golden Hawks reached the end zone three times in the second period including an improbable touchdown pass from junior quarterback Christian Jabbar to sophomore Andrew Vera with 0:00 showing on the clock to take a 28-14 lead into the locker room.
To its credit, the Abington defense clamped down on CR South in the second half and the Ghosts’ offense sprung loose with a solid ground assault, thanks to junior Daryl Davis-McNeil, who rushed for over 270 yards on 34 carries.
Davis-McNeil scored all four of Abington’s offensive touchdowns including 33- and a 30-yard scoring jaunts that drew the Ghosts within three points in the second half. However, late in the fourth quarter, he fumbled the ball at the seven yard line.
Leading 31-28, all the Hawks had to do was make a couple of first downs and this game was over. Rather than worry about his mistake, Davis-McNeil – who also plays defense – chose to concentrate on the task at hand.
“I was just thinking we needed to put our heads together and focus on the defense – make a big stop and get the ball back,” said Davis-McNeil. “And that’s what we did.”
Abington freshman defensive tackle Maliq Strother provided the jarring hit on Jabbar to spring the ball loose from the CR South quarterback at the 3 yard line. And Ghosts junior nose guard Jamil Robinson pounced on the loose ball in the end zone for a 35-31 winning edge.
After losing its first two, Abington (3-2, 2-0: SOL) has now won three straight including wins over Cheltenham and Bensalem.
The Hawks – after winning their first game of the season a week earlier at Truman – must re-group. CR South head coach Vince Bedesem looked at the game as a building block, rather than a setback for the Golden Hawks (1-4, 1-1).
“We don’t look at it as a setback,” said Bedesem. “We did a helluva job tonight.
“In the end, the ball bounced funny ways.
“There was a lot of back and forth – good plays made by both sides. Opportunities were created by both sides and that’s the game of football.”
Back and forth, up and down – this game was a roller-coaster ride from the opening kick to the final gun.
Abington reached the end zone on both of its first two drives, taking just two plays from scrimmage to hit paydirt. After an 18-yard carry by Kennan Lambright, Davis-McNeil bounced off the right tackle and was off to the races. While his 58-yard TD scamper was his longest, it would not be the furthest a back would carry the rock to the house in this one.
The Hawks answered with an 8-play, 64-yard touchdown drive that was capped by a 5-yard race to the right side pylon by Elias Mayo. The junior running back beat Ghosts DB Jeremiah Scott to the corner, deadlocking the sides at 7-all.
Abington came right back with a 7-play, 68-yard scoring drive that was finished off with a 7-yard TD scamper by Davis McNeil.
While CR South turned the ball over on downs in Ghosts territory on its next possession, the second quarter was all Golden Hawks.
After forcing Abington to punt on its next drive – the Ghosts deferred three times on offense in the second quarter – South needed just two plays to reach the end zone on its next possession. Both were taken by sophomore Chase Patterson, who bounced off the left tackle and was off on a 68-yard touchdown jaunt.
On his next carry, Patterson would dig the stake a little deeper into the hearts of the hometown fans at Schwarzman Stadium, sauntering 60 yards to paydirt and putting his team on top, 21-14, with four minutes remaining in the first half.
Shocking the Abington fans a little more so was Vera – a first-year varsity split end for the Hawks. With no time left on the second-quarter clock, he came back to an aerial tossed high in the air by Jabbar, came down with the catch, shed a pair of tacklers then raced everybody to the end zone to send the visitors into the locker room with a 28-14 lead.
By the numbers, Patterson registered over 140 yards and two touchdowns on just five carries in the first half. Davis-McNeil, after springing loose for a pair of TDs in the first quarter, was held to just 28 yards on seven carries in the second period.
Fortunately for the Ghosts, there was plenty of football to be played in this one. After the break, the Abington defense put the clamps on Patterson and company while Davis McNeil went wild. The junior running back carried the ball 20 times for 160 yards in the second half and scored twice more, swinging the advantage back over to the home team.
On the Ghosts’ second possession after the intermission, Davis McNeil capped a 7-play, 54-yard scoring drive with a 33-yard touchdown scamper that drew Abington within seven with 3:50 remaining in the third quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, it looked like the Ghosts gave it right back, however, when Shane Carter took Abington’s second kickoff (the first was negated by a penalty) to the house. However …
While Carter’s coast-to-coast kickoff return was cancelled by a CR South flag, it gave the Hawks a first down at the Ghosts’ 26 yard line. Once again, Abington’s defense stiffened, holding South to a 24-yard field goal by Brett Gold on the first play of the fourth quarter.
After a nice return by Armon Jefferson to the 47, the Ghosts needed just three plays to reach paydirt again, with Davis-McNeil taking the ball 30 yards to the end zone, drawing Abington within a field goal at 31-28 with 10:56 still to play in the contest.
Starting their next drive at the 34, the Ghosts went 11 plays to the CR South 3 yard line with senior George Reid catching a big fourth-down pass from quarterback Billy Griffenburg.
While Davis-McNeil dropped the ball on his next carry (it was recovered by CR South sophomore T.J. Pritz), two plays later, the Abington defense stole the ball right back, putting this one into the win column for the Ghosts.
Next, Abington travels to unbeaten Neshaminy (5-0) for a 7 p.m. battle with the Redskins Friday, Sept. 30. At the same time, CR South hosts Pennridge (2-3), which lost last night 45-21 to North Penn.
Contact Steve Sherman at ssherman@21st-Centurymedia.com or @BucksLocalSport on Twitter
Abington 35, Council Rock South 31
(Sept. 23 at Abington)
ABINGTON 14 0 7 14 – 35
CR SOUTH 7 21 0 3 – 31
A — 58-yd. run Darryl Davis-McNeil (Casey Hesdon kick)
CRS — 5-yd. run by Elias Mayo (Brett Gold kick)
A — 7-yd. run Davis-McNeil (Hesdon kick)
CRS — Chase Patterson 68-yd. run (Gold kick)
CRS — Chase Patterson 60-yd. run (Gold kick)
CRS — Andrew Vera 44-yd. pass from Christian Jabba (Gold kick)
A — 33-yd. run Davis-McNeil (Hesdon kick)
CRS — Gold 24-yd. FG
A — 30-yd. run Davis-McNeil (Hesdon kick)
A — Jamil Robinson fumble recovery in end zone (Hesdon kick)