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Pennridge overcomes sluggish start to beat Council Rock South

EAST ROCKHILL >> Pennridge football coach Jeff Hollenbach tried to hammer home to his Rams to not let the loss to North Penn linger over the short week.

It took one play Thursday night to show the message did not take — Council Rock South’s Elias Mayo went around the right side on the Suburban One League non-conference matchup’s first offensive snap and kept going until he ran 75 yards to the end zone.

“We were talking about how many people say the game after the North Penn game can usually be really a tough one. So that’s what we were preaching all week,” Hollenbach said. “And I did feel we were flat in warmups, I did feel we were flat and then of course that first play, it’s like ‘Oh my goodness, here we go,’”

Yet whatever spark the Rams were missing early they found it the third quarter — scoring two quick touchdowns to grab the lead after trailing 21-14 at halftime. The Golden Hawks pulled even but the Pennridge defense made three stops inside its own 25 and with 3:32 left in the fourth Kyle Schetter plowed over the goal line from three yards out and the Rams found a way to claim a 35-28 victory at Helman Field.

“Something was off, just something wasn’t the same. It wasn’t Friday night, it wasn’t as intense,” Pennridge senior Joe Devine said. “We just had to come with the win because we can’t slip up.”

Devine caught four passes for 135 yards and a touchdown while Schetter finished with 105 yards and two scores on seven carries as Pennridge (4-2, 1-1 SOL Continental) bounced back from last Saturday’s 45-35 loss to North Penn and kept up in the District 1-6A playoff race. Pennridge came into Thursday 13th in the latest standings with 16 teams making the tournament.

“I’m thrilled with how these kids fought, the chips were down,” Hollenbach said. “This was kind of an ugly win. We did a lot of things poorly, we had too many penalties, but in the end we get the win.”

Council Rock South quarterback Christian Jabbar was 14-of-21 passing for 115 yards and two touchdowns — both to Andrew Vera — and also ran for 13 times for 106 yards and a score as the Golden Hawks (2-4, 1-1 SOL National) were denied back-to-back wins for the first time since a four-game win streak in 2015. Mayo collected 99 yards and a TD on 10 carries.

“This one right here got away from us just like the (Central Bucks) West game. But our guys can go toe-to-toe with anybody,” CR South coach Vince Bedesem said. “And we just have a few things we still got to work on and once we do I think, hey, anything can happen.”

Rams quarterback Zak Kantor threw for 170 yards and score on 11-of-22 passing and also ran nine times for 51 yards and another touchdown. Ryan Garner added 68 yards and a TD on 11 carries.


Both teams have road conference games on Friday, Oct. 6 — Pennridge is at Central Bucks West while Council Rock South visits Abington.

Just two plays into the third quarter, Pennridge knotted the game 21-21 as Kantor burst up the middle for a 41-yard touchdown at 11:28. The Golden Hawks were forced to punt from their own five on the next series and the Rams again needed only two plays to score — Schetter breaking away for a 32-yard touchdown, giving the home side its first lead 28-21 at 8:31.

“My teammate Stephen Dadio, he doesn’t say a word the whole game, all season and just reams us out in the locker room and I couldn’t be happier for him and the o-line, everybody,” Devine said. “We just do what we had to do and came out with the W.”

Jabbar made it 28-28, sprinting for a 43-yard touchdown at 7:14 in the third to cap a three-play, 50-yard drive

The Golden Hawks’ next three series all went below the Pennridge 25 with the game still tied, but all three ended with South unable to convert on fourth down. The toughest being the second of the three, as the Hawks came up just shy of the stick after a run on 4th and 2 from the 24.

“We had couple inches there, missing fourth down plays. And eventually we’re going to get back to the drawing board and do a better job,” Bedesem said. “We have the tools to get it done. This is a good football team we have. Unfortunately we’re not pulling these wins out yet. But we will.”

Pennridge took over after CR South’s third straight turnover on downs at its own 22 with 5:26 left in regulation. On 2nd and 8 from the Rams’ 24, Kantor found Devine open downfield for a 48-yard gain to the Hawks 28.

“Backside was there and I had to catch it,” Devine said. “I thought there was another kid, that’s why I twirled and spun around but it was the catch that counted.”

Three plays later, Schetter scored from three-yards out for a 35-28 lead at 3:26.

Council Rock South moved the ball to the Pennridge 43 but threw incomplete on fourth down. The Rams proceeded to picked up a first down to seal the win.

“We knew the second half was a totally different game,” Devine said. “We knew the first half wasn’t who we are, everyone here knew it.”

Council Rock South’s first offensive play was Mayo’s 75-yard touchdown run at 11:39, its second was a 57-yard run by Jabbar down to the Rams 9. Jabbar, however, was intercepted by Schetter on the next play.

The Golden Hawks went 14-0 after recovering a Rams fumble at the South 40, as Jabbar finishing the eight-play drive with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Vera at 10:50 in the second quarter.

Pennridge cut the margin to 14-7 at 9:42 left in the half when Devine won the battle for a Kantor pass downfield then raced in for a 53-yard score.

“Joe’s made some plays. And it was his great grandmother’s funeral (that) was today, so he told me after the game, ‘Coach, I really needed this.’ I said, ‘I get it Joe.’” Hollenbach said. “Cause that’s, away from football, we’re all people, we’re dealing with things. So to go to your grandmother’s funeral and be able to make some plays out here tonight, he’s doing great.”

Council Rock South reclaimed the 14-point advantage when Jabbar lofted a ball into the hands of Vera in the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown strike at 5:42. But the Rams were back within seven at 4:40 as Garner scored on a 47-yard touchdown run.

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