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North Penn races past Haverford in District 1-6A opener

North Penn's KJ Cartwright sprints for long yardage against Haverford during their District 1-6A first round game on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

TOWAMENCIN >> Asked what his secret was to producing such game-breaking runs of 37, 70 and 80 yards, K.J. Cartwright replied with a big smile: “I just got in the gym this week, got in the weight room.”

Cartwright benches a hefty 235 and on Friday night rushed for 249, as he and the Knights out-muscled Haverford in the first round of the District 1-6A playoffs, 41-26 at chilly, windy Crawford Stadium.

“It feels real great,” Cartwright said of the victory, which sends the sixth-seeded Knights to a quarterfinal match-up at Garnet Valley next week. “We just wanna keep it rolling.”

Cartwright (5-foot-8, 175) broke free on the Knights’ second possession, bursting through a hole and racing down the left sideline for a 70-yard score that tied things at seven apiece.

North Penn, ranked No. 6 in this week’s Pa. Prep Live Top 20, would never trail again.

North Penn receiver AJ Catanzaro carries a pass for long yardage ahead of Haverford’s Shane Mosley and Nicholas George during their District 1-6A first round game on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

“On a couple of (the long runs), I saw a big hole and ran through it,” Cartwright said, “and then I just had one person to beat and I don’t think anybody can tackle me in the open field.”

After a blocked punt by North Penn’s Nick Intrieri set up a one-yard rushing TD by Anthony Andrews, making it 14-7, Haverford — ranked 17th in this week’s Pa. Prep Live Top 20 — came back on a 32-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jake Ruane.

It was Ruane’s second TD of the night — the first one went for 80 to put the 11th-seeded Fords (8-3) in front early.

“The quarterback’s very tough,” Knights coach Dick Beck said of Ruane. “And (wide receiver Jordan Mosley) and a couple of the slot receivers, I knew they would be tough.”

But North Penn went ahead again on Cartwright’s second score of the evening, an 80-yard sprint that rocketed the Knights into the lead at 21-14.

“Feed the hot hand, right?” Beck said of his variety of backs, which piled up a whopping 469 rushing yards. “Feed the hot hand.”

Cartwright’s contributions were about to carry over to the special teams.

After Mosley made a one-handed snag for a touchdown on 4th-and-6 from the nine, Cartwright got up and blocked the extra-point attempt, keeping the Knights’ lead preserved at 21-20.

“The coaches have been telling me all week to jump after one and get it,” Cartwright said.

Soon, he was back in the end zone.

The senior capped a six-play drive with a nine-yard score, lifting the North Penn lead up to 28-20 at halftime. Cartwright had 209 yards rushing in the first half alone.

Haverford quarterback Jake Ruane finds a hole in North Penn’s line and runs for a big gain on a keeper during their District 1-6A first round game on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

“Those are big backs, and there’s nothing sweet about that — they’re really good,” Mosley said. “And their line was good.

“It was a great game in the first half and then in the second half, we didn’t do what we needed to do to stop the run. They’re big.”

Mosley, headed to Maryland next year, had a sensational game for the Fords, grabbing seven balls for 119 yards. Ruane finished with 143 yards rushing and another 229 through the air. He hit Trey Blair over the middle for a 40-yard score, tightening the contest to 28-26 late in the third quarter.

The two-point attempt would be stopped, but Haverford — which lost 56-7 to North Penn in the first round last year — was right in it.

“We definitely came up since last year,” Mosley said. “We performed this year. It’s just unfortunate how it ended.”

The Knights defense performed better in the fourth quarter, allowing Ruane to complete only three of 10 passes.

“We tried to jam (Mosley) at the line and didn’t wanna give him a free release,” Beck said.

North Penn then pulled away, increasing the margin to 35-26 on a 12-yard blast by Khan Jamal and putting it away for good on a 76-yard score by Justis Henley.

North Penn was off to the races and onto the second round.

“They played us man and tried to load up the box,” Beck said. “And as soon as we broke through that first wave, we could outrun them to the end zone.”

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