FAIRLESS HILLS – Things will get considerably tougher with longtime nemesis North Penn – due in town next week – but it’s already abundantly clear the Pennsbury High football team is back to once again operating on a much higher level than it did in last year’s rare non-winning 5-5 campaign.
Playing in front of its usual large Falcon Field home crowd for the first time this season, Pennsbury improved to 2-0 Friday night by crushing Del Val League rival Penn Wood, 41-28.
You can use the word crushed because the final score is not at all indicative of the game. Before giving up three late touchdowns with its subs on the field, Pennsbury held a 41-6 lead. The only touchdown against the Pennsbury starters came on a Hail Mary with :04 remaining in the first half after the Falcons had built up a commanding 27-0 advantage.
Penn Wood started fairly well with a drive into Pennsbury territory behind the hard running of Answered Gleplay, but it didn’t take long for the Falcons to figure out how to put the clamps on the Patriots running back.
The Pennsbury offense, meanwhile, was in high gear throughout and it did it with a nice mixture of passes and runs in second-year coach Dan McShane’s spread offense.
Operating behind a rebuilt offensive line that is much better this year in pass protection, senior quarterback Zach Demarchis struck right away by hooking up with Justin Shutt on a 64-yard go pattern down the right sideline to the Penn Wood 2 yard line.
Andrew Basalyga, who is an excellent two-way player, opened the scoring from there by bulldozing his way into the end zone on the next play.
There was no more scoring in the first quarter, but the Falcons then really went to work with three touchdowns in the second.
The first was a 2-yard run by Nasan Robbins, while the second was a 5-yard pass from Demarchis to Basalyga on a swing pattern. Basalgya’s touchdown was set up by an interception by Ryan Knauth, who jumped a pattern over the middle and returned his pick 65 yards to the Patriots’ 5 yard line.
Pennsbury also scored in the second quarter on a 3-yard run by good looking sophomore running back JayVon McNeil.
It was more of the same in the third period with Demarchis throwing a 41-yard TD pass to Dave Burke on the second play of the second half. Burke went high in the air to get his hands on the ball before doing the rest with a sprint down the sideine for his third TD reception of the young season.
Pennsbury also had a long drive in the third quarter that was culminated by a 6-yard keeper by Demarchis on a play in which the line opened up a huge hole in the middle.
For the game, Demarchis was 7-for-11 for 151 yards. He now has four touchdown passes for a Pennsbury team that in the past often didn’t throw that many in half a season. Demarchis also ran for 64 yards on just six carries when he was wasn’t pitching the ball to either Robbins or McNeil.
In addition to slowing down Gleplay, the Falcons had a lot of success putting pressure on quarterback Desman Johnson. Before he departed, he was sacked four times and was able to complete only three passes.
Pennsbury had a pretty good defense last year so that’s no surprise. As for how improved it is on offense, consider the most points the Falcons scored in a game last year was 28 and that was in double overtime.
Contact Rick Fortenbaugh at email@example.com OR on Twitter @RickFort7
TOP PHOTO: Pennsbury senior QB Zach Demarchis throws a pass Friday night, Sept. 1 against Penn Wood. (Gregg Slaboda — Trentonian Photo)
Pennsbury 41, Penn Wood 28
(Sept. 1 at Pennsbury)
Penn Wood (0-2) 0 6 8 14 – 28
Pennsbury (2-0) 7 20 14 0 – 41
P — Basalyga 2 run (Knop kick)
P — Robbins 2 run (Knop kick)
P — Basalyga 5 pass from Demarchis (Knop kick)
P – McNeil 3 run (kick blocked)
PW — Poles 46 pass from Johnson (kick failed)
P — Burke 41 pass from Demarchis (Knop kick)
P – Demarchis 6 run (Knop kick)
PW — Gleplay 67 run (Poles pass from Johnson)
PW – Poles 30 pass from Parker (Parker run)
PW – Poles 20 pass from Parker (pass failed)