NEWTOWN – To say that Council Rock North’s win last weekend over visiting Pennsbury was historic would be an understatement. The 13-7 Indians’ triumph Sept. 24 at Walt Snyder Stadium is the first time CR North has ever topped Pennsbury (2-3, 1-1).
“Today’s a great win for the program,” stated Indians senior OT/DT Pat Bartlett. “We haven’t beat Pennsbury in a long time so it’s very exciting.”
The last time the Rock (1-3, 1-1) topped the Falcons was 1999, in a 25-15 victory for Council Rock High School. North wasn’t incorporated until 2002 with the opening of sister school CR South.
Mike Ortman was the head coach for CR and Mike Elko led Pennsbury. Ortman retired in 2006 after leading the Indians to the Suburban One League (SOL) Continental Conference championship. But North didn’t play the Falcons – who are and were in the SOL National Division – that season.
In this year’s duel, Pennsbury quarterback Zach Demarchis threw for over 160 yards but that’s because he had to. The Rock defense put the clamps on Falcons’ feature tailback Nasan Robbins, who was limited to 23 yards rushing on 19 carries.
Pennsbury went 3-and-out on its first drive while North’s defense forced a fumble on the visitors’ second possession. Junior Nick Muro recovered a Demarchis fumble at the Falcons’ 38 yard line and the Indians made the visitors’ pay for the mistake when senior RB Andrew Kelly took the ball to the house from six yards out, giving Rock a 7-0 edge with 3:30 to go in the first quarter.
“We knew we needed to come out and get some momentum,” explained Bartlett. “We came out early and hit them in the mouth and were able to move the ball downfield.
North junior quarterback Evan Devine rushed for 61 yards on 10 carries and classmate Michael Welde came through with 59 more on 19 rushes. Kelly added another 36 yards on nine totes for a 4-yard average-per-carry.
“We changed everything up; we’re going to be a run-first team,” stated Bartlett. “We’re just coming down and we’re going to try to hit you in the mouth.
“We proved it today – that we can compete against a lot of people with our line.
“Even if we didn’t open up a hole, the (backs) were able to make something out of nothing.”
After turning the ball over, then failing to convert a 27-yard field goal, the Falcons broke through on their third possession, using a short field to traverse 40 yards on 10 plays with Demarchis tumbling over the right pylon from two yards out.
Council Rock came right back however, capping a 12-play, 57-yard drive with a 2-yard TD pass from Devine to senior Mason Luff.
“We wanted to come out and make a statement early,” added Bartlett. “We knew we’re a great second half team; I think we’ve only given up one second-half touchdown this whole year.
“We were hoping to get them to fold and keep them from getting anything started in the second half.”
Senior DB Connor Collins grabbed an interception to stop Pennsbury’s last touch before the intermission and linebacker T.J. Ayrer latched onto one to stop the Falcons’ third touch in the second half. Pennsbury’s possessions after the break culminated like this: punt, punt, interception, punt, turnover on downs at North’s 41 yard line and a turnover on downs at CR’s 8 yard line.
“Our defense won this game for us,” admitted Bartlett. “We made a lot of not-so-great plays, a lot of mental errors, fumbles, false starts – I know I had one – but our defense was able to come up big.”
Still, the battle came down to one last fourth-down gasp by Pennsbury. But it was all over when a Demarchis aerial to junior WR Austin Palmer tipped off the fingertips of the receiver and out of the end zone.
For his part, Devine threw just 11 times in the game but was efficient throughout. Welde caught two balls for 24 yards, Senior Connor Collins grabbed one pass for 20 yards and junior Jason Walter added another for seven yards. Luff had only two catches for eight yards but one was for the game-winning touchdown with time winding down in the first half.
According to Indians head coach Matt McHugh, the Rock was forced to make some adjustments to its offense when junior running back Matt Shenot went down in a week two loss to Coatesville.
“We’re trying guys out at different positions, putting them in spots where we think they’ll be successful,” said McHugh. “The last two weeks, we’ve been getting guys into different positions and they’ve been picking it up really well.
Still, not a single point was scored by either side after the intermission. Council Rock’s second-half possessions ended like this: turnover on downs, interception, punt, punt, punt.
“Offensively, we kept going backwards,” admitted McHugh. “We had false starts, we had holding (penalties) and we had different things that just didn’t go our way.
“That made it very difficult to get anything going and it’s something that we’re going to have to look at and correct.”
On the other side of the ball, Pennsbury’s offense spent a large part of the second half beckoning to score the go-ahead points, starting three drives after the intermission from the 50 and another from the Falcons’ 45.
On its last drive, Pennsbury drove inside the Rock’s 10 yard line but made a big mistake when they spiked the ball lined up in the shotgun, resulting in a 5-yard penalty and a loss of down.
Demarchis got four yards back on second down then tossed twice into the end zone. The first ball was tipped aside by junior Andrew Cabo and the second was defensed by Ayrer.
“Bend but don’t break, baby,” added the coach. “We kept them out of the end zone there at the end and that’s all that matters.
“You do that and you’ll always win.”
Council Rock North 13, Pennsbury 6
(Sept. 24 at CR North)
CR NORTH 7 6 0 0 – 13
PENNSBURY 0 7 0 0 – 7
CRN – Andrew Kelly 6-yd. run (Alexio Troia kick)
P – Zach Demarchis 2-yd. run (Chris Knop kick)
CRN – Mason Luff 2-yd. pass from Evan Devine (kick failed)