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Cartwright runs North Penn to 8th straight win as Knights rout Abington

North Penn's KJ Cartwright II carries the ball during the Knights' game against Abington on Friday, Oct. 27, 2017. (Debby High/For Digital First Media)

TOWAMENCIN >> K.J. Cartwright spent Senior Night in the end zone and North Penn went sprinting into the playoffs with its eighth straight win Friday night, a 46-8 rout of Abington at chilly Crawford Stadium.

“I think it’s probably the first time I’ve ever had four touchdowns in a high school game,” said Cartwright, who scored on runs of six, 30, 35 and five on the way to 98 yards on 10 carries. “It just felt really good.

“(Winning eight in a row) helps a lot. We had a slow start and we’re just trying to keep moving, keep moving and get better. Hopefully we can take it as far as we can.”

The Suburban One League Continental Conference champs improved to 8-2 overall and will host a first-round playoff game next week in the opening round of the District 1-6A tournament.

The game was barely six minutes old when Cartwright provided the first points, running left and showing a tremendous burst to the corner, holding the ball inside the pylon for a 7-0 North Penn lead.

Cartwright would score the Knights’ first three touchdowns. He bolted through a gap in the line and raced away to a 30-yard TD, then topped that when he scored from 35 yards out, beating an Abington defender to the corner. It was 21-0 Knights early in the second quarter.

“Our offense is really clicking right now,” said Cartwright, one of several Knights seniors honored before kickoff. “We had a lot of motivation to come out and try and get this last win of the regular season. We’re just trying to get hyped up for the playoffs.”

North Penn also welcomed back a healthy Shamar Edwards, who showcased his speed when he caught a 33-yard scoring pass from Steve DePaul in stride — on 4th-and-13 — to make it 27-0 North Penn midway through the second quarter.

“It’s good to get him back. He had been hampered a little bit with a groin pull but he is another weapon that we have,” Knights coach Dick Beck said. “I don’t think other teams can say ‘we have to cover this guy or this guy,’ I think all four guys can really catch the ball and along with Owen (Thomas), that’s five pretty tough receivers.”

North Penn’s Shamar Edwards takes the ball runs in to end zone on his 33-yard touchdown reception in the 2nd quarter of the Knights’ game against Abington on Friday, Oct. 27, 2017. (Debby High/For Digital First Media)

Justis Henley displayed some nifty moves and breakaway speed on a 37-yard score that boosted the Knights’ lead to 33-0. A fourth-down stop by the defense preserved the shutout at the break.

“I thought we tackled well on defense,” Beck said of a unit that got run-stuffing performances from Nathan Brown, Noah Fox, Owen Verespy and Julian White. “(Darryl Davis-McNeil) is a really good player so to get a chance to play against him in the open field, I thought we did a pretty good job.”

The Ghosts were shut out for almost three quarters, with Davis-McNeil scoring Abington’s only TD (six yards) after the game had gone to a running clock. Davis-McNeil added the two-point run to make it 40-8.

“We had a good week of practice. We expected more,” the running back said.

The Ghosts (4-6) battled the whole way, with Davis-McNeil logging 183 yards on the night on 23 carries.

North Penn opened the second half with another efficient drive, fittingly capped off by a five-yard touchdown run by Cartwright. The transfer from Germantown Academy scored his fourth TD to make it 40-0 Knights.

“K.J.’s been kind of a bonus for us,” Beck said of the 5-foot-7, 175-pounder. “At the beginning of the year, we didn’t really know about him. He came in and we were like ‘okay, he looks pretty good,’ but he’s really come into his own.

“He’s got a great feel for what we’re doing on offense and how we’re running the ball. Obviously he’s very explosive — when he gets past anybody, nobody’s catching him so he’s been a real, real pleasant surprise.”

The final points of the night came on a two-yard run by backup QB Kolby Barrow.

Said Beck, whose son, Joey, was one of the Knights’ seniors honored on this evening: “All of the seniors are special to me. I’ve known these kids for a long time. I’ve seen them grow up playing Cannoneers football and I had an opportunity to coach some of them when my son was younger so the whole senior class is very special to me.”

North Penn’s KJ Cartwright scores a touchdown during the Knights’ game against Abington on Friday, Oct. 27, 2017. (Debby High/For Digital First Media)

North Penn’s only downer of the evening was when Thomas was injured during the pregame warmups, but the star linebacker is expected back next week.

“I think he was extremely disappointed (to not be able to play on Senior Night) and that’s a tough pill to swallow, for all of us,” Beck said. “I’ve known Owen almost his entire life, so a kid that works so hard and is so special, you hate to see him not get an opportunity to play tonight, but we’re gonna get him back next week and hopefully we can make up for it.”

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