Garnet Valley defensive back Matt Parker, left, stops Neshaminy quarterback Mason Jones in District One quarterfinal Friday night, Nov. 11 at Harry E. Franks Stadium, Langhorne, Pa. (J.S. Garber – For 21st-Century Media)
LANGHORNE, Pa.>> The Neshaminy High football team should have felt right at home in its District One Class 6A quarterfinal playoff game at Harry E. Franks Stadium. Instead, everything felt a little out of kilter.
On second thought, the scene was downright odd.
The biggest difference of all, of course, was that 10th-seeded Garnet Valley routed second-seeded Neshaminy, 42-14, on Friday night to deal the Skins their first defeat of the season in crushing fashion.
The Jaguars (10-2) were every bit deserving of that gaudy scoreline as their running attack steamrolled the hosts for most of the night. The Jags piled up 318 rushing yards and threw only a single pass, which fell incomplete.
But how about those oddities.
In a football season notable for its relatively mild weather conditions — conditions that invariably favored Neshaminy’s pass-heavy offense — the autumn blew into Heartbreak Ridge with a vengeance on Friday with temperatures in the mid-40s and wind gusts that grew stronger as the night progressed.
Things were also different for the Skins because senior quarterback Mason Jones’ arsenal of weapons was more depleted than ever. Senior wide receiver Zach Tredway barely saw the field due to a lower body injury. He hobbled out there for only a few plays and tallied just one six-yard reception.
Tredway’s prolific pass-catching colleague, sophomore tight end Oleh Manzyk, was also battling injury with his right arm heavily wrapped for the second game in a row. Still, Manzyk hauled in five passes for 138 yards, including a 59-yard touchdown toss from Jones early in the first quarter that provided the Skins (11-1) with their only lead of the night, albeit short-lived.
As an opponent, Garnet Valley embodied a significant departure for the Skins, too. By all accounts, the Suburban One National Conference had a down year, so none of those teams seriously challenged the Skins. On the non-league front, Neshaminy faced just two teams from outside Bucks County, and neither ended up with a winning record.
And as strange as it may have been for Neshaminy to face a quality opponent from outside the area, the Skins surely had not seen a quarterback with the crafty skill set of Garnet Valley senior Nick Juliano, who orchestrated the old-school triple option with baffling precision.
Juliano toted the rock 12 times for 61 yards and two touchdowns. And he read the Skins’ defensive alignment and pursuit expertly. Juliano chose to hand off to fullback Matthew Lassik 18 times for 140 yards. The quarterback also distributed the ball to halfback Jacob Buttermore (12 for 67) routinely and effectively. Eventually, another running back, Danny Guy, also got in on the frenzy with a pair of touchdowns and 26 yards on four carries.
Even with all of that running, the two Neshaminy back-breakers had nothing to do with Garnet Valley’s offense.
Trailing 14-7 early in the second quarter, Neshaminy’s defense had just forced the Jags into a three-and-out and the offense was on the move. Will Dogba ran 11 yards for a first down, followed by Jones’ 10-yard pass to Mike Garlick and Dogba’s 20-yard rumble.
On first down at the Jags’ 40, Jones ran up the middle and fumbled. Garnet Valley’s Sam Rudolph picked up the ball in stride and raced 61 yards untouched for a touchdown.
The score was still 21-7 at the start of the second half when Garnet Valley’s kick return team set up a reverse handoff that Buttermore ran down to Neshaminy’s 20-yard line. From there, it took the Jags two plays to score, including Guy’s 17-yard touchdown.
From there, Garnet Valley’s defense, led by linemen Rob Monachello and Joshua Ciarrocchi, kept Neshaminy at bay until Juliano’s one-yard touchdown sneak made it 35-7 on the second play of the fourth quarter.
Dogba ran 19 times for 60 yards for Neshaminy, but the Skins got nothing more from the ground game. Dogba’s one-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter got Neshaminy a bit closer, but Garnet Valley recovered an ensuing onsides kick to squelch thoughts of a miraculous comeback.
Jones finished 14 for 28 passing for 223 yards for the Skins.
Contact Bill Kenny on TWITTER: @NortheastKenny
Garnet Valley 42, Neshaminy 14
(Nov. 11 at Neshaminy)
GARNET VALLEY (10-2) 14 7 7 14 — 42
NESHAMINY (11-1) 7 0 0 7 — 14
N — Manzyk 59 pass from Jones (McDonald kick)
GV — Juliano 13 run (Buttermore kick)
GV — Lassik 1 run (Buttermore kick)
GV — Rudolph 61 fumble return (Buttermore kick)
GV — Guy 17 run (Buttermore kick)
GV — Juliano 1 run (Buttermore kick)
N — Dogba 1 run (McDonald kick)
GV — Guy 3 run (Buttermore kick)