BENSALEM – The Bensalem High football program never claimed to be dominant or pretty. But over the years, some very lean years in terms of wins, the Owls have been a dangerous opponent.
So while their playoff hopes looked to be on life support midway through the second half of Friday night’s home finale against Council Rock North, Bensalem still had a puncher’s chance.
Malcolm Carey landed that punch. His 43-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter sparked the Owls’ 13-point comeback. Then Rob Fund’s eight-yard scoring pass to Isaiah Murray in the final minute of the fourth capped off the Owls’ 21-20 victory over the Indians.
The win keeps Bensalem’s District One Class 6A playoff hopes alive. The Owls are 5-4 overall (2-3 in Suburban One League National play) and on the bubble for the 16-team postseason tournament. A win next Friday at Truman is a must. If Bensalem gets some outside help and makes the tourney, it would be the first playoff appearance in school history. The PIAA began a playoff system in 1988.
“We always feel we’re one play away, like we can take it to the house at any time,” Bensalem head coach Ed Cubbage said. “Malcolm got that big run and that was us. One play changed the whole game.”
Bensalem started the game brightly as Keith Parrish’s 15-yard touchdown run gave the Owls an early 7-0 lead. But CR North (1-8, 1-4) pulled ahead 20-7 early in the third quarter as Bensalem began to self destruct.
With less than six minutes to go in the first half, Bensalem held a one-point edge and had the ball at North’s 30. On second-and-five, the Owls passed incomplete. Then, they took a five-yard penalty. On third down, they passed incomplete again. The same happened on fourth down.
So instead of running some clock and moving closer to a crucial score, Bensalem surrendered the ball and gave the Indians plenty of time to do something with it.
North marched 65 yards in six plays, including Andrew Kelly’s two-yard touchdown run that made it 13-7 for the Indians heading into intermission. It was Bensalem’s first halftime deficit of the season.
Bensalem got the ball to start the third quarter, but fumbled on the first play from scrimmage. North took over at the Owls’ 35 and, nine plays later, scored on Kelly’s one-yard run.
A roughing the passer penalty on Bensalem sustained that drive and contributed to the 76 yards in penalties that the Owls took in the second and third quarters.
But just when it all seemed to be slipping away, Carey closed the third quarter with a 43-yard touchdown run. The powerful runner finished with 111 yards on 13 carries.
After Bensalem’s defense held down the Indians, the Owls constructed a long fourth quarter drive. They used 13 plays to cover 80 yards. Facing fouth-and-7 from the 8, Fund found Murray in the right corner of the end zone. The receiver dove to catch the ball near the North sideline. A hush covered Bensalem Memorial Stadium for a moment until an official signaled touchdown and cheers erupted.
Matt Corbett converted the crucial extra point kick, his third of the night.
“This was a program win,” Cubbage said.
NOTES: Rock North finishes the season vs. sister school South, which lost Friday night, Oct. 21 to unbeaten Neshaminy. The annual North-South duel is slated for 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28 at Walt Snyder Stadium in Newtown.
Bensalem 21, Council Rock North 20
(Oct. 21 at Bensalem)
CR NORTH (1-8) 0 13 7 0 — 20
BENSALEM (5-4) 7 0 7 7 — 21
B — Parrish 15 run (Corbett kick)
CRN — Huddy 15 pass from Devine (kick failed)
CRN — Kelly 2 run (Troia kick)
B — Carey 43 run (Corbett kick)
B — Murray 8 pass from Fund (Corbett kick)
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