By Noah Levick
Abington >> After running back Jackson Taylor wrapped up Abington’s first drive of the game with an 11-yard touchdown run, it looked like the Ghosts might run wild at home. But undefeated Bensalem managed to flip the script, coming back from a 12-0 halftime deficit thanks to several long runs to win by a 41-18 margin.
Taylor led the way throughout the night for Abington, carrying the ball 19 times for 131 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught three passes for 45 yards, including a seven-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Billy Griffenburg.
Keenan Lambright complemented Taylor well in the backfield, with 135 yards rushing on 23 carries. Yet the Bensalem defense neutralized the Abington passing game, limiting Griffenburg to 58 yards. The Owls also prevented any massive gains, keeping themselves in the game while their offense struggled in the first half.
On the second play from scrimmage in the third quarter, Keith Parrish III broke free for the game’s biggest play. Parrish sprinted past the Abington defense for an 84-yard score. Bensalem quarterback Jared O’Connell repeated the feat the next time the Owls got the ball, as his 79-yard run gave his team the lead, 14-12.
Abington head coach Kevin Conlin credited Bensalem for their second half resurgence, though he wasn’t happy with how his team lost focus after taking an early lead.
“They really stayed disciplined and blocked very well,” Conlin said. “We didn’t stay disciplined, we started going upfield more than we should have. We didn’t do the things we did in the first half. They had a few big plays that we were worried about obviously, but that’s a good, tough team.”
Though Abington did briefly re-take the lead on Taylor’s third touchdown of the evening, a one-yard run on fourth-and-goal with 1:33 left in the third quarter, Bensalem controlled the final period. The Owls scored 27 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, beginning with Parrish’s 20-yard touchdown run with 9:57 remaining. Parrish, who also handled the punting duties for Bensalem, finished with 173 yards rushing and three touchdowns on only 12 carries.
Following Parrish’s score, Bensalem’s special teams unit made an impact, forcing a fumble, recovering the loose ball, and returning it for a touchdown. Dawson Fontaine’s extra point extended the Bensalem lead to 28-18. Fontaine made five of six extra point attempts.
Despite Bensalem only outgaining Abington by 29 yards and actually converting just eight first downs compared to the Ghosts’ 13, Bensalem turned the contest into a blowout in the final few minutes, thanks to O’Connell’s second touchdown run and Parrish’s third.
Bensalem, who moved to 4-0 with the victory, next plays on Saturday the 23rd against Central Bucks West. Abington, now 2-2, also returns to action on the 23rd, against Council Rock South. Conlin expects his team to play at a higher, more consistent level going forward.
“We need to get healthy and we need to get tougher,” said Conlin. “In difficult games like this you need to stay disciplined, and you have to win those kinds of battles.”