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Interboro, Beckwith get hands on share of title with win over Academy Park

GLENOLDEN >> Time had stopped, ever so briefly, for Interboro’s Shane Beckwith.

He darted to the end zone and then stumbled. One thought raced through his mind as he stretched out and tipped the ball in the air with his right hand, a last-ditch effort to keep it from hitting the turf.

“I was just hustling for my life to get to that thing,” Beckwith said.

Academy Park's Dazhon Miller, center, runs past Interboro defenders Ryan Doughty, left, and Connor Adams. Miller ran for 135 yards, but the Knights fell, 29-24. (Digital First Media/Anne Neborak)

Academy Park’s Dazhon Miller, center, runs past Interboro defenders Ryan Doughty, left, and Connor Adams. Miller ran for 135 yards, but the Knights fell, 29-24. (Digital First Media/Anne Neborak)

Beckwith then hit the grass with the ball in firm grasp.

“(The defensive back) tipped it first, and I was able to get it,” Beckwith said. “I just knew I had to get there, trying with all my might to get that ball.”

Beckwith stood up and raised both arms. His teammates rushed over to celebrate. By making the biggest catch of his life, Beckwith had put Interboro in front for the first time in its game with Academy Park, with 36 seconds to go.

AP got within striking distance on its final drive, but the Bucs defense stood tall, forcing Taylor Moors to throw an incompletion on the final play of regulation.

Interboro claimed a 29-24 victory Friday to earn at least a share of the Del Val League crown. The Bucs will try to capture their first outright championship in seven years next week against Penn Wood, which is tied with AP for second place with one league loss.

Half of the credit for the game-winning touchdown goes to Interboro quarterback Nate Murtha, who was under fire when he made the miracle throw. Murtha eluded a fierce Academy Park pass rush to find Beckwith in the end zone.

“Honestly, I just wanted to put it behind the defender,” Murtha said. “He almost intercepted it, but Beckwith came down with it. Big catch.”

The Bucs moved the ball all night against the Knights. Chris Thomas racked up 221 yards on 34 carries. Murtha was 9 of 15 passing for 95 yards and added 40 on the ground.

And yet, the Bucs found themselves trailing most of the way. The Knights had seemingly pulled away midway through the fourth quarter when All-Delco Teddy Wright took a reverse 48 yards to the end zone to give AP a nine-point lead.

But the Bucs never said uncle.

“We were moving the ball extremely well. Our run game was very good and we were passing the ball, too. I felt like we were very strong on offense tonight, everyone was doing a great job,” Beckwith said. “We buckled down and kept it together, and made sure we were playing right. In the end, we got the win.”

Trailing 24-15 with six minutes to go, the Bucs quickly moved the ball downfield. Thomas ripped off a 13-yard run to set up Kalie Kuyateh’s 17-yard touchdown catch. Colin Ravert, who caught a TD pass from Murtha in the second quarter, hit the extra point to make it a two-point deficit.

“We came out to do what we had to do. We played Buc football,” said Thomas, the county’s top rusher with 1,193 yards and 16 touchdowns. “Last week, against Glen Mills (an 8-0 win), we might have looked past them a little bit because we were always looking forward to AP. We came to dominate and that’s what we did.”

Interboro's Kalie Kayateh, who caught a touchdown pass Friday, runs the ball in Interboro's 29-24 win over Academy Park. (Digital First Media/Anne Neborak)

Interboro’s Kalie Kayateh, who caught a touchdown pass Friday, runs the ball in Interboro’s 29-24 win over Academy Park. (Digital First Media/Anne Neborak)

The Bucs sensed that the Knights came into Friday’s showdown overconfident. That’s what can happen when you enter the night 8-0, winners of three of the previous four Del Val titles and without a loss to Interboro in four years.

“You got a team that is 8-0 and all over Twitter about how they run the Del Val, they do that and they do this,” Thomas said. “We came out to play football and they came out to show off.”

AP’s otherwise tough defensive front had a difficult time stopping the Bucs ground attack. Interboro racked up 13 first downs and accrued 194 yards of offense by halftime. While the Knights forced Interboro to fumble six times, they ultimately didn’t have an answer for Thomas and Co.

“Let me start by saying this,” AP coach Jason Vosheski said. “I think we got beat tonight because they outplayed us. I think they wanted it more than us and I think they owned us up front on both sides of the ball.”

Vosheski then made his opinion known about the officiating. The Knights were whistled for nine penalties for 77 yards.

“I think the officiating was completely horrendous,” Vosheski said, “and it came mostly from the opposing side of the field. I’ll say that.”

But Vosheski wasn’t placing all the blame on the guys in stripes. He admits that his team didn’t play well enough to win.

“They deserved to win that game,” he said. “The only thing I can say as to why we struggled on both sides of the ball up front is they wanted it more than we did, they were more physical than us. That’s the only thing I can think of.”

And the notion that his Knights were overconfident?

“Yes,” Vosheski said. “That’s how our week of practice was. We’re going to see what the mistakes were. We’re going to see if there were misalignments or guys not in the proper spot, and we’ll correct them. Other things may require personnel change.”

The Knights struck first when Shannon Fillis scooped up an Interboro fumble and sprinted 81 yards to paydirt. AP recovered a squib kick on the ensuing kickoff, then Moors (5 of 11, 88 yards) found Shymere Stroud on a post route 35 yards for a touchdown to put the Knights ahead, 12-0.

After Ravert’s scoring catch cut AP’s lead to five, the Knights struck again with 2:33 to go in the first half. Moors found Zach Cleary on a slant route for 14 yards to extend AP’s advantage to 18-7.

Dazhon Miller paced the Knights rushing game with 135 yards on 18 carries.

On the whole, though, the Bucs showed they were the tougher and better team. Next week, they’ll look to defeat Penn Wood and take back the Del Val title.

“We stuck together,” Thomas said. “That’s what we did and we got the job done.”

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