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Suburban One League

North Penn outlasts Pennridge for third straight win

North Penn's Owen Thomas carries the ball in for a touchdown during the Knights' game against Pennridge on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Jeff Davis/For Digital First Media)

EAST ROCKHILL >> Holding a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter, North Penn needed two dozen yards to keep its drive going. Owen Thomas reached up and got the Knights 29.

On a 3rd-and-24 from the Pennridge 46, NP quarterback Steve DePaul deliver a ball down the middle that Thomas and his 6-foot-4 frame could haul in and take down to the 17.

“He made it difficult for me to catch, but he put it in a good spot, you know, being that I’m big and everything he put it up high and I went up and caught it,” Thomas said. “And then I wasn’t trying to score, I knew we had to get the yards, I was just trying to get the yards really quick. So did that and thankfully we did.”

Three plays later, DePaul rolled and connected with Khan Jamal from an 11-yard touchdown, putting North Penn up 14 with 2:48 remaining – enough of a cushion to outlast the host Rams at Helman Field and stay unbeaten in Suburban One League Continental Conference play with a 45-35 victory Saturday night.

“I thought on key downs we had some guys make some big plays,” Knights coach Dick Beck said. “Owen Thomas made some big plays. I thought the quarterback threw some great balls. The two fourth downs that were to Justis (Henley) were great outstanding plays. I thought Khan Jamal played really hard and I thought KJ Cartwright really ran tough.”

Jamal ran for two of his three touchdowns while Cartwright finished with a game-high 161 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries as North Penn (3-2, 2-0 conference) won its third straight after an 0-2 start to the season.

“The first two losses don’t mean nothing – that’s not league play,” Jamal said. “So for us to pull out this big W, it’s major.”

After Jamal’s TD catch put NP up 42-28, Ryan Garner gave the Rams some life as he took the ensuing kickoff 96 yards to the end zone, cutting the Knights’ lead to seven at 2:34.

Pennridge’s Ryan Angelini carries the ball in for a touchdown during the Rams’ game against North Penn on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Jeff Davis/For Digital First Media)

Pennridge went for the onsides kick, but the Knights recovered and with the help of two Pennridge 15-yard penalties made it a two-score game when Kelly Macnamara drilled a 36-yard field goal with 1:10 remaining.

“I never really know how long the field goals are, I just go out and it’s the same kick every time, the only difference is how far it goes behind the goalposts,” Macnamara said.

Garner also ran for a touchdown in the first quarter while Kyle Schetter had 118 yards on 10 carries to pace Pennridge (3-2, 1-1), which had a two-game win streak snapped.  Nick Tarburton crossed the goal line twice on one-yard runs for the Rams, who lost to the Knights for the teams’ fifth consecutive meeting.

“We just have to make plays. They can’t get a first down on 3rd and 15 and that’s what happened a number of times. That was a killer,” Pennridge coach Jeff Hollenbach said. “The positives certainly are that we played with them inside. Our offensive line played great, I think our defensive line played great.

“They certainly got some running yards, but we could establish a running game against them which is an awesome thing for us. I’m really proud, really proud of how these kids played. They gave terrific effort.”

Pennridge was up 14-7 in the first quarter before the Knights scored the next 21 points – DePaul connecting with Thomas for a 56-yard touchdown pass with 1:11 left in the second quarter to give NP a 28-14 lead at halftime.

“It was a like funnel route. I just came open,” said Thomas of the TD. “Steve made a nice ball, I think I made two guys miss or something and I just took off.”

The Rams, however, responded by scoring on two straight drives in the third quarter, pulling even 28-28 on Ryan Angelini’s 18-yard touchdown run at 1:23.

“We got that little screen pass over to the side with Ryan (Garner) that really helped us and then the crisscross we ran, the double handoff we ran with Ryan Angelini was a really good play. So that really helped a lot,” Hollenbach said. Their perimeter people especially are really good I mean they’re really athletic so it was a little difficult at times to get open receivers. That was part of what was going on.”

Cartwright began North Penn’s next drive with a 32-yard run to the Pennridge 26 then on a 4th-and-7 from the 23 DePaul hit Henley for a 12 yard game.

North Penn’s Owen Thomas, carries the ball in for a touchdown during the Knights’ game against Pennridge on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Jeff Davis/For Digital First Media)

Jamal finished the possession by reaching the ball over the goal line from a yard out at 9:29 in the fourth, putting the Knights up for good.

“You got one thing to do, you got to do your job, score a touchdown,” Jamal said. “That’s what we had to do. I wasn’t going to let the team down.”

After forcing a Pennridge three-and-out, North Penn made it 42-28 by traversing 67 yards on 11 plays, the biggest DePaul’s 29-yard completion to Thomas after a personal foul penalty back NP up 15 to the Rams 46.

“It was a great game,” Thomas said. “Obviously it’s great to get a win and we needed that, big for our league and seeding. It was a great effort. We needed to win.”

Thomas caught five passes for 120 yards and a score as DePaul went 13-of-18 passing for 187 yards and two touchdowns.

Pennridge quarterback Zak Kantor was 8-of-21 for 100 yards and two interceptions – both by Henley.

Both teams play Thursday. After four weeks on the road, the Knights return to Crawford Stadium to face Central Bucks South, the only other unbeaten SOL Continental side. Pennridge steps out of conference play to host Council Rock South.

On the first drive of the game Saturday, North Penn elected to go for it on 4th and 2 from its own 42 but the Rams stuffed the Knights’ run for no gain. Pennridge used to good field position to take a 7-0 lead on Garner’s six-yard touchdown run at 8:51.

It was 7-7 just 11 seconds later as Cartwright broke free for a 65-yard touchdown run on North Penn’s next snap. But after a Schetter 58-yard run down to the NP one, Tarburton punched it to put the Rams back up 14-7 at 6:28.

“I just feel like we didn’t play great on defense,” Beck said. “I think we’re better defensively and we’re just not showing it.”

The Knights even things again with a 10-play, 60-yard drive capped by a Jamal two-yard TD run at 1:43.

A Henley interception set the Knights up at the Pennridge 41 and 10 plays later Dars Bowsky scored from two yards out for a 21-14 NP advantage at 7:15 in the second quarter. Thomas’ 56-yard touchdown reception had the visitors up 14 at half.

Tarburton’s second one-yard TD came at 9:10 in the third to finish a 10-play, 65-yard drive.

Pennridge tried to advance a shanked North Penn punt, but the Rams lost the ball and the Knights recovered. NP proceeded to go three and out and the Rams knotted the contest 28-28 on Angelini’s 18-yard touchdown run on a double handoff with 1:23 left in the third quarter.

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