LANGHORNE – Neshaminy might be concerned about its rushing attack but it sure doesn’t have to worry about its passing game. First-year quarterback Brody McAndrew threw for a pair of touchdown passes in the first half and ran for another score in the second in the Skins’ annual non-league Skirmish with rival Pennridge.
His biggest plays of the night, however, may very well have been a pair of tough fourth-down passes –in which no one scored – that were critical to Neshaminy’s second win of the season.
“We have 100 percent trust in Brody that he’s going to make the right play on fourth down,” said Skins junior wide receiver Cory Joyce (8 catches, 137 yds.), who caught one of those fourth down passes. “When he plays with confidence, I don’t think there’s anybody better than him.
“When he knows that he has a throw, he’s going to hit it.”
Completing 18 of 31 attempts on 296 yards passing and no interceptions, Brody was a difference-maker in this game. His counterpart, Rams QB Oliver Jervis, hit just two of 12 passes and threw a pair of picks, both of which were intercepted by junior DB Marcus Griffin.
With the Skins hanging onto a two-point lead, McAndrew tossed a 16-yard pass over the middle to senior Mike Garlick that kept Neshaminy’s scoring drive alive near the end of the third quarter. Two plays later, McAndrew plunged in from the one yard line, securing a 23-14 triumph for the Skins Sept. 1 at Harry E. Franks Stadium in Langhorne.
“We were moving the ball pretty well the whole game and we have a lot of confidence in Brody,” said Joyce. “People think he’s a young player and maybe we shouldn’t put that on him but he’s a great player and we know what he can do.”
Neshaminy goes to 2-0 including the previous week’s 14-7 win over Roman while the Rams fall to 1-1.
The Skins’ defense, after allowing a 76-yard touchdown run by Pennridge senior RB Josh Pinkney in the first quarter, limited the speedster to just 18 yards on 10 carries the rest of the way.
“He’s a great player but we had a great week of practice,” said Joyce. “We had that one slipup – those plays are going to happen – but we were prepared for what they were going to do.”
Neshaminy had been hanging on to a 16-14 lead at halftime on the strength of a pair of TD passes from McAndrew to Joyce and a Matt Leonhauser field goal. Capped off by a 35-yard TD pass, an early 74-yard scoring drive put the Skins on top, 6-0 (failed extra point) when Joyce latched onto his fourth catch of the evening at the 15, and eluded several tacklers on his way to the end zone.
It took the visiting Rams only a minute to retake the lead, however, with Pinkney racing 76 yards for the score on third down midway through the initial frame.
Both defenses seemed to take control in the second quarter with Griffin latching onto an ill-advised pass by Jervis at the Pennridge 26 yard line on the third play of the period. Neshaminy couldn’t punch it in for six but managed a 27-yard field goal on its ensuing possession, putting the Skins back on top, 9-8.
On the visitors next possession, a bad snap by the Rams on third down forced Pennridge to punt from their own end zone. While the Skins took over at the 50, they didn’t get any points out of the good field position, turning the ball over on downs instead.
On its third possession of the quarter, the Neshaminy offense finally broke through, with McAndrew again connecting with Joyce, this time on a 25-yard catch and run with just 1:26 remaining in the first half.
“He (the defender) had a good angle on me but I stopped, and as soon as I could, I just cut back,” said Joyce. “That made him miss.”
On the Rams next possession, the Skins’ defense broke down when senior Joe Devine caught a short screen pass from Jervis and took it 69 yards to the five.
“That was a coverage breakdown but we can defend every kind of play,” said Joyce. “Pennridge is a great team; they’re going to make plays.”
Two plays later, Pinkney was in the end zone again though he failed to convert on the 2-point play, leaving Neshaminy up two at the half. It was Garlick who came up with a big tackle on Pinkney on the conversion attempt and that allowed the Skins to hold onto the lead heading into the halftime break.
“I was pretty happy with the defense,” said Neshaminy head coach Steve Wilmot. “We gave up a few plays but overall, they were pretty stout against a pretty formidable offensive line and backfield.”
The week two duel was a rematch of the Skins’ District 1 playoff win over the Rams in the opening round of the 2016 postseason. Neshaminy also toppled Pennridge in the regular season last year.
Pinkney led the Rams last week with 134 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just nine carries (14.9 avg.) in a 41-7 season-opening win over Norristown and junior Ryan Garner (45 yds./5 carries) added a pair of TDs. Garner was limited to 34 yards rushing on nine attempts and didn’t sniff the end zone in this game.
The Skins are home again next week against Ches-Mont League rival Downingtown West then open their league schedule Sept. 15 at Council Rock North. Neshaminy toppled the Whippets – who are 1-1 – last year, 42-14. Pennridge will play host to PAC-10 rival Perkiomen Valley, which is 2-0 including wins over D-West and Upper Dublin.
TOP PHOTO: Neshaminy senior RB Mike Crescenzo (22), left, is pursued by Pennridge defender Evan Exner (22) in 23-14 Skins win over the Rams Sept. 1 at Harry E. Franks Stadium in Langhorne. (J.S. Garber – For 21st-Century Media)
Neshaminy 23, Pennridge 14
(Sept. 1 at Neshaminy)
NESHAMINY (2-0) 6 10 0 7 – 23
PENNRIDGE (1-1) 8 6 0 0 – 14
N – Joyce 35 pass from Brody McAndrew (kick failed)
P – Pinkney 76 run (Evan Exner pass from Oliver Jervis)
N – Matt Leonhauser 25 FG
N – Joyce 25 pass from Brody McAndrew (Leonhause kick)
P – Pinkney 5 run (run failed)
N – McAndrew 1 run (Leonhause kick)