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Pennridge scores 38 in 1st half, routs William Tennent for 3rd straight win

EAST ROCKHILL >> The final five games of the regular season have been turned into a five-step process by the Pennridge football team.

“We’ve won three games but we’re just taking it step-by-step up the ladder, climbing,” Rams junior Nick Tarburton said. “We got five — we got two more to go.”

Pennridge continued its success since starting the season 2-3 Friday night at Helman Field. The Rams scored the first 21 points in their Suburban One League Continental Conference matchup with visiting William Tennent, led 28-3 after a quarter and rolled to a 45-3 victory over the Panthers.

“It was an emotional start being Homecoming and especially Senior Night and I think the guys were just really ready to play and focused,” Pennridge coach Jeff Hollenbach said. “This could have been a trap game for us and it wasn’t. We just really came right out the gates, played as well as we could play.”

Quarterback Jagger Hartshorn ran for three touchdowns, Josh Pinkney added two more scores on the ground with the Rams also reaching the end zone on a blocked punt return in their third straight win, the first by at least 40 points since beating Hatboro-Horsham 54-14 in Week 10 of the 2012 season.

“I think that they’re feeling now that we got a shot at these (District 1-6A) playoffs,” Hollenbach said. “They’re playing that way. And they’re focused, they’ve been great.”

Pennridge (5-3, 3-1 conference) scored points on all five of drives in the opening half, the first four going for touchdowns while the fifth ended in Matt Mauer’s 35-yard field goal that gave the Rams a 38-3 advantage at 4:06 in the second quarter.

“It’s a great feeling, it’s an awesome feeling, coming out each series scoring and keeping pounding it,” Pinkney said.

For Tennent (0-8, 0-4), however, it was another tough night. The Panthers went 3-and-out on their first three series and by the time they converted a first down WT was already down by three touchdowns.

“We had a couple injuries coming into the game that we knew we’re going to hurt us. Seniors, leaders on defense,” William Tennent coach Leo Plenski said. “Pennridge is a good team. They’re solid, they’re tough, big kids. They’re where they are right now for a reason.”

Sean Bragen was the bright spot in the Panthers’ 15 straight loss, the junior running back collecting a game-high 103 yards on 14 carries against the Rams’ aggressive defense.

“He’s got the heart of gold,” said Plenski of Bragen. “He comes here ready to work every day. He gives us everything possible that we can ask from him. He’s a great kid to coach. He’s the kind of player that he’s the reason you coach football.”

Pinkney had 61 yards and two TDs on four carries to pace Pennridge. Hartshorn had 59 yards and three scores on nine carries while also going 2-of-4 passing for 72 yards.

Pennridge started this season 2-3 but its three losses came to Neshaminy, Perkiomen Valley and North Penn, a trio which has combined record of 24-0. Since falling 45-21 to North Penn Sept. 23, the Rams have put themselves back in the District 1-6A playoff picture, entering Friday 12th in the latest power rankings.

“I do think we’re playing better,” Hollenbach said. “I think Jagger, I think the game has slowed down for Jagger. He’s starting to see people down the field that maybe he wasn’t earlier in the year. I think defensively we’re playing more as a unit and also our over the top pass coverage has been better.

“Now, we’ll get tested next week so we’ll see how that plays out, but we can put pressure on the quarterback, too, which is good.”

Pennridge visits Central Bucks South Friday in a contest important for both teams’ postseason plans. The Titans – who beat Central Bucks West 14-7 Friday – were sixth in the recent rankings. The top 16 teams qualify for the District 1-6A tournament.

“To get three losses early in the season doesn’t happen much to us,” Tarburton said. “I know people were questioning us, but credit to them, they still beat us but they’re still also the top three (district) seeds. So, that’s helping us out as well. So we just go to get past that and win games.”

William Tennent, meanwhile, hosts North Penn in Week 9.

Down 21-0, Bragen set Tennent up with a 1st-and-Goal at the five with his 42-yard run in the first quarter. The Panthers could not get into the end zone, but posted their lone points on Dakota Wherrity’s 23-yard field goal at 1:03.

Pennridge quickly answered with a 3-play, 70-yard TD drive. Hartshorn connected with Anthony Kelly on the second play for a 52-yard completion then capped the series by slicing through the Tennent defense on a 15-yard scoring run with two seconds left in the quarter.

Tennent’s next series ended with the Rams’ special teams produced points as Kevin Reilly blocked a Panther punt, the loose ball scooped up by David Geltz, who took it 21 yards for a touchdown at 9:07 in the second quarter.

“That was really cool,” Hollenbach said. “It was great for him to score, for score on special teams was excellent and overall our punt, our punt return game was good. So, overall, it was really good night.”

Mauer’s 35-yard field goal gave Pennridge a 38-3 lead at halftime and enacted the 35-point running clock in the second half. The Rams made it 45-3 at 4:57 in the third quarter as Hartshorn scored his third touchdown on a 1-yard QB sneak.

Hartshorn first TD came on a 9-yard run to put Pennridge up 7-0 at 8:26 in the first quarter. The Rams doubled their lead when Pinkney found a seam and dashed for a 54-yard touchdown at 6:52.

“Got a nice pitch-off from Jagger and then I nice, really good block from Joe Robinson and I just found a big crease,” Pinkney said. “And my lineman, the blocking, they always do a great job. They’re always blocking, make sure I don’t get hit, always opening holes. I took the seam and ran.”

Pinkney added a second TD run as he plunged across the goal line from 4 yards out on 4th-and-Goal for a 21-0 Pennridge lead with 2:30 left in the first quarter.

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