BUCKINGHAM >> After five consecutive punts and zero first downs, theCentral Bucks East football team finally figured out how to breakthrough against Pennridge and its determined defense. The Patriots cut right through the middle of field, broke the game open in the second quarter, and eventually went onto win 35-0 at Umbrell Field.
Luckily the loss did not remove the Rams (5-5, 3-3 in the Suburban One League Continental) from a spot in the newly formatted District 1-6A field.
District power rankings prognosticator Kyle Berger has the Rams facing Perk Valley in the first round next week. The Vikings beat coach Hollenbach’s bunch 38-20 earlier this season. The Rams will have to rebound quickly after the rough regular season finale.
“This is kind of mind-boggling actually,” Rams coach Jeff Hollenbach said. “I did not see this coming. No excuses, East played really well. I guess they got all three touchdowns in 22 seconds or some ridiculous thing. That took the air out of us.”
After going down three touchdowns quickly, the Rams passing attack was not moving the chains effectively enough to rally on Saturday. The Patriots — who look set on traveling to Spring-Ford in the 8-9 postseason matchup — took advantage of three straight drives starting in their own territory. East coach John Donnelly dialed up the same streak pattern and the Rams were unable to contain the call. Senior Matt Szczypiorski connected with three different receivers on the play. The signal caller threw for 135 yards in the win.
“Pennridge is a very good football team, very physical,” Donnelly said. “They give you a lot of different looks on defense. We got settled down and found our way. I think to win in the fashion we did, it is a great way to go into the playoffs.”
The Rams had an early chance to get on the scoreboard as they entered the red zone in the first quarter only to cough up their one and only turnover of the afternoon. Quarterback Jagger Hartshorn fumbled on the 9-yard line and Matt McKenney fell on it and the Patriots took over.
Hartshorn was constantly on the run, trying to extend plays all afternoon. He was sacked four times and limited to 20 yards on 17 rushing attempts.
“We had open receivers and just could not get the ball to them sometimes,” Hollenbach said. “Sometimes it was pressure from the inside, so credit to Central Bucks East.”
As the four touchdown passes allowed the Patriots (8-2, 5-2) to end their regular season on a high note, the Rams were unable to connect through the air. When big chunks of yardage were the only way to make the SOL Continental game interesting, Hartshorn complete three of his 16 attempts.
“We were not having much success early on, but eventually we did,” Donnelly said. “Coaches kept working hard and put our guys in the best position we could.”
While the Patriots will look to ride the momentum of their three game win streak the Rams will look to snap their two-game skid. They have played all the top seeds in the playoff field and look forward to the chance start fresh and make a big statement.
“Luckily we have another game to bounce back,” Hollenbach said. “We have played Perk Valley before and to me that is advantage. They are excellent teams and we are not going to be “oh-wowed”. We will see how it plays out.”
Top Photo: Pennridge’s Joe Robinson is grabbed by Central Bucks East’s Ryan Plack during their game on Saturday, Oct. 29,2016. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)