EAST ROCKHILL >> There was simply too much Jagger Hartshorn for Council Rock South to handle as well as a swarming Pennridge defense that snapped Council Rock South’s wishbone attack in two.
A wet, windy Friday night at Helman Field saw the Rams thunder along with a dominant defense and ground attack, on their way to a 28-0 shutout that evened their record to 3-3.
“It was really important,” Hartshorn said of the victory, one in which he ran away to 212 yards rushing.
“We all wanna go to the playoffs — we all have that mindset, and to go to the playoffs we knew we had to win this game and keep winning — work hard and finish the season off right.”
A win that coach Jeff Hollenbach called “workmanlike” started to go right for Pennridge just minutes into the contest.
The Rams, loading eight men in the box, stifled Rock South’s running attack, forcing a three-and-out, and then Pennridge’s offense took over at its own 41.
Getting a good push up front, the Rams moved the ball 59 yards in nine plays, propelled by an 11-yard sweep by Austin Herrlinger and keyed by a 29-yard pass play off of play action, with Hartshorn hitting Herrlinger for a big pickup on 3rd-and-7.
Later, on 3rd-and-goal, Nick Tarburton blasted in from the one to put Pennridge in front 7-0 with 6 minutes, 54 seconds left in the first quarter.
“We came out strong. We came out excited and ready to win again,” Hartshorn said.
Rock South, using a 22-yard run by quarterback Christian Jabbar, mounted a sustained drive on its ensuing possession, but on 4th-and-9 at the Ram 33, Jabbar was corralled in the backfield for a loss of four.
Tarburton, Oliver Jervis, Alex Schmidt, Joe Robinson and company were penetrating quickly and had Jabbar on the run for most of the night, held to minus-one yard rushing. A couple of solid runners in Chase Patterson (42 yds) and Elias Mayo (25 yds) could also find little running room.
“I’m really proud of the way the guys play in there,” Hollenbach said of the defense. “I thought maybe (Rock South) might challenge us a little bit more through the air, throwing the ball, but the conditions, the wind, maybe they didn’t want to do that.
“So our defense played awesome, and to put up a shutout is a credit to (defensive coordinator Mike) Barainyak and his staff.”
Rock South hung tough for most of the first half but then the Rams doubled their lead just before the break, another one-yard plunge by Tarburton making it 14-0.
The third quarter was all Pennridge.
The Rams did not allow Rock South (1-5) a single first down in the quarter and after Hartshorn scored from 11 yards out — on a fake handoff — to make it 21-0, he scored again — this time from 86 yards away, to produce the most exciting play of the night.
“I had to hurdle over somebody and then cut back,” he said, “and it was wide open.
“They were fun,” Hartshorn said of the two TD runs. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the blocking, especially from the wide receivers.”
Up 28-0, Pennridge could send it many of it reserves in the fourth quarter and wind down the clock.
Rock South’s special teams came up with a nice play when the Golden Hawks blocked a punt midway through the third quarter, setting up the visitors at the Pennridge 20-yard line.
Joe Robinson knifed into the Rock South backfield on first down, bringing Jabbar down for a five-yard loss.
Jabbar was again stopped in the backfield for a loss of one, setting up 3rd-and-16, and after he found Mayo for a gain of 11, Pennridge forced an incompletion on fourth down, coming up with the stop on a short field.
Said Hollenbach: “The defense was super.”
“The kids are playing motivated,” he said. “I’m happy with this team. I like coaching this team. They play hard, they come every game to play.”