Levittown, Pa. – You couldn’t help but note the irony of what transpired Friday night at Truman’s Hank Morgan Stadium.
Two years ago, the Tigers had their hearts broken when they lost by one point on the last play of the game and missed out on its first ever playoff berth.
On the very same field Friday evening, Bensalem missed out on its first playoff berth in program history when it came up on the short end of a 44-43 thriller against Truman. With the loss, Bensalem finished at 5-5 and out of the playoff picture. The Tigers, meanwhile, ended up at 3-7 with the annual Thanksgiving Day game against Conwell-Egan now a thing of the past.
This was as wild a game as you could ever want to see in a marathon filled with penalties, turnovers and one spectacular big play after another.
Favored Bensalem appeared to have things under control when it erased a halftime deficit to take a 35-23 lead late in the third quarter. Owl touchdowns in the third came on a 28-yard fumble return by Kobe Jacobs and a two-yard plunge by fullback Malcolm Carey.
But just when Bensalem fans could begin to contemplate their first trip to the playoffs, Truman struck right back with a long drive capped by a 28-yard touchdown run David Akiwande, who finished with 111 yards on 23 carries.
Disaster then followed for Bensalem on its next possession when it fumbled near midfield. On the play, the Tigers’ Mike Nicholson scooped the ball up and returned it 43 yards to put Truman back ahead by the score of 37-35.
Amazingly, on the very next play, Bensalem’s Keith Parrish took off on a scintillating 65 yard scoring jaunt in which he broke at least four tackles to put his team back in the lead, 43-27, with 10:51 remaining.
Once again, Truman had the answer, driving from its own 26 and reaching the end zone on a 1-yard sneak by quarterback Jordan Freeman, whose return gave the Tigers a big boost after he was injured several weeks ago against Pennsbury.
Bensalem had two more possession from there. The first ended on an interception by Shakell Hall. The second one basically ran out of time around midfield as the Owls were forced to throw desperation passes after an intentional grounding call and less than a minute remaining on the clock.
There were also two huge plays in the first half. Truman’s Sayyid Saunders, who is one of the elite sprinters in Pennsylvania, raced 85 yards on a kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter. Bensalem quarterback Rob Fund then answered Saunders’ TD with a 63-yard touchdown run.
Here’s one last bit of irony. When the Tigers missed out on the playoff berth two years ago, the game ended when Truman missed a two-point conversion. One of the big reasons Bensalem came up one point short last night was because the Tigers converted three two-point conversions out of a muddle huddle formation.
You really can’t make this stuff up.
Contact Rick Fortenbaugh at email@example.com or @RickFort7 on Twitter
Truman 44, Bensalem 43
(Oct. 28 at Truman)
Bensalem (5-5) 7 14 14 8 — 43
Truman (3-7) 16 7 0 21 — 44
T — Baba 6 run (Nicholason pass from Tressler) B – Carey 1 run (Corbett kick)
T – Saunders 85 kickoff return (Tressler run)
B — Fund 63 run (Corbett kick)
T — Akinwande 4 run (Linebaugh kick)
B – Parrish 2 run (Corbett kick)
B — Jacobs 27 fumble return (Corbett kick)
B — Carey 2 run (Corbett kick)
T – Akinwande 28 run (Nicholson pass from Tressler)
T – Nicholson 43 fumble return (kick failed)
B — Parrish 65 run (Murray pass form Fund)
T – Freeman 1 run (Linebaugh kick)