BENSALEM, Pa. >> The undefeated Neshaminy football team already had their playoff ticket booked, but Bensalem High had some more urgent business for the visiting Redskins on Friday night, Oct. 14 on the Owls’ home turf.
There was a full moon and a larger than usual homecoming crowd at Bensalem Township Memorial Stadium. And the resurgent Owls played like they wanted to take their backyard rivals down a notch.
The Redskins needed a big second-half rally, but they eventually dashed Bensalem’s upset hopes with a 35-22 victory in Suburban One League (SOL) National Conference play.
Council Rock South and Pennsbury are the final two opponents standing between Neshaminy (8-0, 4-0 SOLN) and a perfect regular season, as well as a likely top-two seed in the District One Class 6A playoffs. Bensalem (4-4, 1-3) still holds playoff aspirations, too, with CR North and Truman remaining on its schedule.
Although Neshaminy closed out Friday night’s game by scoring the final four touchdowns, while yielding a lone field goal, it was Bensalem’s early run that flipped the expected script. The Owls reeled off 19 straight points to close the first quarter and start the second.
Statistically, Bensalem dominated the first half, too. The Owls led in yardage, 224-121, at the midway point, including 199-27 rushing.
Bensalem used a fluke fumble recovery, a spectacular individual play by quarterback Drasaun Moore and a methodical drive to reach the end zone on three consecutive possessions.
Late in the first quarter and with the Owls near midfield, Moore lofted a short pass to Keith Parrish near the right sideline. When the ball bounced off of the receiver, then hit the ground, the defense stopped momentarily. But the pass was actually a lateral. Parrish was first to react. He scooped the loose ball and raced 43 yards for a touchdown.
On Bensalem’s next possession, the Owls faced a third-and-seven from Neshaminy’s 17. The Redskins’ Oleh Manzyk looked to have Moore sacked in the backfield, but the quarterback spun out of the defender’s grasp and spotted running back Malcolm Carey open in the secondary. Carey caught the pass and ran untouched into the end zone.
Bensalem’s third touchdown came with 2:41 left in the first half. Parrish’s four-yard run capped a nine-play, 69-yard march that also featured running by Moore and Carey.
For the game, Parrish ran for 114 yards, Carey for 109 and Moore for 76. The quarterback was forced to leave the game midway through the third quarter when he landed hard on a tackle. He did not return.
Neshaminy cut its shock deficit to 19-14 by halftime when quarterback Mason Jones marched the team 63 yards in one minute, 22 seconds, of game clock. Jones passed 17 yards to Tom Garlick to cap the drive.
Neshaminy running back Will Dogba took over the game in the second half, when he gained 110 of his 137 rushing yards. Dogba also left the game in the fourth quarter and appeared to be favoring a leg injury, although he walked off under his own power.
Dogba’s eight-yard touchdown capped a 60-yard drive to start the third quarter. Another eight-yard touchdown from the Skins’ senior running back late in the third put Neshaminy up 29-19.
Dogba’s fourth touchdown, a two-yarder, to start the final frame effectively clinched the victory for the visitors.
Neshaminy 35, Bensalem 22
(Oct. 14 at Bensalem)
NESHAMINY (8-0, 4-0 SOLN) 7 7 15 6 – 35
BENSALEM (4-4, 1-3 SOLN) 6 13 3 0 – 22
N — Dogba 2 run (McDonald kick)
B — Parrish 43 run (kick failed)
B — Carey 17 pass from Moore (Corbett kick)
B — Parrish 4 run (kick failed)
N — Garlick 17 pass from Jones (McDonald kick)
N — Dogba 8 run (Tredway pass from Jones)
N — Dogba 8 run (McDonald kick)
B — Corbett 32 field goal
N — Dogba 2 run (kick blocked)