QUAKERTOWN >> Plymouth Whitemarsh looked like it was on its way to a big win Friday night in their regular season finale against Quakertown.
The Colonials won the coin toss, deferred and forced a three-and-out to start the game. They followed that with a 12-play drive ending with a Stephen Longo 27-yard field goal. They recovered a fumble on the second play of Quakertown’s ensuing possession and scored a touchdown three players later when Joe Stoberl found Dontae Wilson for a 32-yard strike.
That was just about the end of the fun in what would turn into a 26-17 loss that took away Plymouth Whitemarsh’s sole possession of the Suburban One League American Conference championship that they now share with Upper Dublin.
The Colonials next two possessions were a three-and-out and a long drive where the team committed an illegal block on another Longo field goal that took points off the board and they turned the ball over on downs.
Their final possession of the first half was a one-play drive where the ran the ball and let the clock run out to head into the locker room with a 10-0 halftime lead.
Wilson got the second half started with a 33-yard run on the very first play to set PW up in Panther territory. Two plays later Wilson fumbled the ball and Quakertown recovered.
The ball was snapped past Stoberl on the first play of the next possession. He scooped the ball, rolled right and threw a pass downfield that was intercepted by Quakertown’s Nick Cass.
Both of those turnovers were turned into Quakertown touchdowns — a two-yard plunge for Christian Patrick and a 22-yard run for Nick Lefkoski — and the Panthers led, 14-10, late in the third quarter.
“Turnovers are killer,” PW coach Dan Chang said. “It’s been a plague of ours a couple games this year. It caught up to us a little bit and gave Quakertown a couple short fields. They were tough. They were really physical. We had a couple guys go down — we were already down a couple guys — but that’s no excuse. Our offense stalled a little bit and that’s on me. We have to re-evaluate and see how we can improve for next week (playoffs) if we get into next week.”
The Colonials went three-and-out on their next possession and stopped Quakertown on fourth down to get the ball back, down four points, early in the fourth.
A block in the back penalty on third-and-five at the Quakertown 37-yard line put the Colonials in a tough spot, where Stoberl hurled a pass deep that was intercepted by Jacob Barndt in what was essentially a punt.
The Panthers responded with a 12-play touchdown drive — capped off by an Austin Clarke pass to Lefkoski — to take a two-possession lead with 2:10 remaining in the game.
PW followed with a five-play touchdown drive — a Stoberl eight-yard strike to Vince Martina — to cut the deficit to three, 20-17, but when the onsides kick attempt failed and PW only having two timeouts with 1:21 left, it would’ve taken some luck to come back.
There definitely wasn’t any luck on the ensuing possession. Quakertown’s Noah Wood took the first carry of the drive 56 yards for a touchdown to ice the game, 26-17.
Wood’s long run brought the Panthers rushing total to 225 yards — 198 of which came in the second half.
“Nothing new that we hadn’t seen,” Chang said of Quakertown’s second-half rushing attack. “They do what they do well. They kept at it and continued at it and just kind of wore us down as we went.”
Plymouth Whitemarsh entered Friday night needing a win or Upper Dublin loss to be the lone SOL American champion.
Upper Dublin beat Upper Moreland 41-21.
When Plymouth Whitemarsh came up short against Quakertown, it meant it was sharing its first league title since 2013.
“It’s still a good accomplishment for our team to get that share of the league title,” Chang said. “We obviously wanted it outright, but it’s still a nice accomplishment for this team.”
The Colonials entered Friday ranked No. 10 in the latest unofficial District 1 Class-6A power rankings. The top 16 teams make the playoffs.
“I’m hoping that we get in there,” Chang said. “I don’t really know. There are so many variables that go with the other teams that play. At 8-2 (overall) I’m hoping that we’re in there. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
The seeding meeting is Sunday morning.
Everywhere PW’s premiere receiver Martina lined up, Quakertown’s senior corner Cass followed him.
What was great about the matchup was that each player won some plays.
Martina finished with six catches for 71 yards. He drew a pass interference penalty against Cass and beat Cass on a slant for a touchdown late in the game.
Cass grabbed an interception and broke up a few passes intended for Martina, including a fade in the endzone.
“We were game-planning and (Quakertown head) coach (George Banas) had me all week watching film on (Martina),” Cass said. “He’s a good player. He’s a really good player. I was pumped to go into tonight lined up against him all game. I was determined. I wasn’t going to let him get the best of me. Some plays he may have got his shots on me, but I did my best to have him all game.”