EAST ROCKHILL >> Cooper Chaikin was confident Friday night was the start of bigger things.
“Nobody’s seen nothing yet,” he said. “There’s definitely more to come.”
Playing his first game since a preseason off the field injury, the Pennridge sophomore provided a much-needed boost to a secondary that struggled a week earlier against William Tenennt, coming away with two of the Rams’ five interceptions as they shut down Central Bucks South in claiming a 21-7 Suburban One League Continental Conference win at Helman Field.
“He was our starting safety all year, gets hurts before our first game, he hasn’t played at all. And he’s pretty good player and he showed it tonight,” said Pennridge coach Jeff Hollenbach of Chaikin. “And so it was great to have him back there. So now I really think we’re back at full strength and Cooper really helped.”
The Rams’ offense scored on their first three drive to build a 21-0 halftime lead while their defense essentially shut out the Titans (6-3, 3-2) — South’s points came on a fumble recovery in the third quarter — as Pennridge picked up a fourth consecutive victory on Homecoming.
“We knew we could shut down the run we couldn’t get beat on the back end, we couldn’t let anybody get overtop,” Rams senior Joe Devine said. “We got our one sophomore safety (Chaikin) back, he finally got off an injury. He balled out — two interceptions. So it’s big win, huge win.”
Devine, Nick Tarburton and Jadin Bass also had interceptions as the Pennridge’ D bounced back from giving up 353 passing yards in its 35-26 win over Tennent last Friday to allowing the Titans just 46 yards through the air and 115 yards of total offense.
“We’re playing down to their level. It wasn’t right, something wasn’t right,” said Devine of the Tennent game. “But tonight, the energy was high, you could feel it in the air we going to do something special. We came out here and performed.”
The performance resulted in the Rams holding an opponent to seven points of less for the fifth time this season and South scoring its fewest points since it beat Souderton 7-0 in Week 5 of 2016.
“Those guys we were kind of preaching ball hawk all week. We figured they were going to try to throw the ball against us and we spent a lot of time on pass coverage,” Hollenbach said. “We spent probably half an hour more on passing coverage during practice than we usually do and it really paid off. (Defensive coordinator) Mike Barainyak did a great job again defensively and for us to do the things we did defensively, again, I’m just really proud.”
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) October 20, 2017
Ryan Garner ran 16 times for 115 yards and a touchdown while QB Zak Kantor was 13-of-21 passing for 118 yards withe one touchdown and one interception for Pennridge, which looks to better its spot in the District 1-6A tournament when it hosts Central Bucks East Friday. The Rams entered Friday eighth in the district rankings. CB South, which is home against Tennent Friday, came in ninth.
“I’m thinking we would be in the top eight if we win next week and get a home playoff game. We would love for these seniors to have a home playoff game,” Hollenbach said. “We’ve never had a home playoff game on this field at Pennridge.”
Ryan Shoch — CB South’s third-string quarterback who made his first varsity start last Friday in the 21-20 win over Central Bucks West — completed 10-of-23 passes for 46 yards and five picks while also rushing seven times for 50 yards to pace the Titans, who have lost three of four since starting 5-0.
“They’re a good team. They obviously want to run the ball at you and they were able to do that in the first half,” said CB South coach Tom Hetrick of Pennridge. “I was a little disappointed that we weren’t able to slow up some of the drives, I don’t even know if we made them punt in that first half. You can’t do that against good teams.
“And obviously when they own the ball like that you got to take advantage of every opportunity that you get when you get the ball and we didn’t do that. We didn’t make the plays when we needed to and the better team won tonight.”
Devine intercepted Shoch’s first pass of the game, setting Pennridge up at the 50 and eight plays later Devine scored on an 11-yard TD run at 7:50 in the first quarter for a 7-0 Rams lead.
Pennridge pushed its advantage to 14-0 on its next series — a 13-play, 80-yard drive capped by Kantor hitting Devine for a 19-yard touchdown on a 4th and 5 at 11:20 in the second quarter.
“He was giving me the inside the whole time so I just gave him an outside move,” Devine said. “And Zak put it on the money.”
After a South three-and-out, the Rams made it 21-0 when Kyle Schetter finished a 15-play, 61-yard drive with his one-yard touchdown run with 4:06 left before halftime.
The Titans cut the margin to 21-7 70 seconds into the third quarter as the teams combined to turn the ball over on three consecutive plays. Dante Scipione picked off Kantor but Bass intercepted a Shoch throw in the end zone. But a high snap by the Rams at their own 20 sent the ball into the end zone, where Sean Charpentier corralled it for a touchdown at 10:50.
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) October 20, 2017
“They won the second half — not that we’re here for moral victories but they stepped and they finished strong so we’re going to build off of that,” Hetrick said.
South forced a Pennridge punt and drove the Rams 39 only to turn the ball over on downs as Tarburton tackled Ryan Watson for a two-yard loss on 4th and 1.
The Rams couldn’t tack on any points in the second half but did chew up plenty of clock, to using more than 11 minutes on two drives (6:13 and 5:05), the latter ending on an incompletion on 4th and Goal from the four.
“I was kind of conservative with my calls, but we were playing ball control most of the time and again, I would have like to put up more points,” Hollenbach said. “We were down here a couple times and couldn’t score so that was a little disappointing, but at the same time you’re sitting with a pretty good defense that we can rely on.”
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