LANGHORNE, Pa. – Soon after top-seeded Neshaminy advanced in the District 1 Class 6A Tournament with a 42-21 triumph over visiting Spring-Ford, Levittown radio station WBCB (1490 AM) selected as its stars of the game junior Cory Joyce and senior Joel Stills.
The media outlet couldn’t have chosen better.
On offense, the pair combined on four touchdowns and defensively, the duo teamed up on three interceptions.
Proving that it’s not how you start but rather how you finish, Stills ran for 147 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the second half to go with 91 yards and a score he recorded before the break.
His counterpart for the 16th-seeded Rams – senior Justin DiFrancesco – after notching 125 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns on 13 touches in the first half, was limited to just 30 yards and a TD on 10 carries after the intermission.
“That was a big difference,” admitted Neshaminy head coach Steve Wilmot.
“For the most part, the offense moved the ball the entire game and our defense buckled down in the second half.”
“We made some adjustments at halftime. Really, it was more of an attitude change,” added Joyce. “We weren’t really happy with how we played in the first half so in the second half, we came out trying to change that.
Two key plays on defense were registered by Joyce. The first came late in the first half and gave the offense a short field. The second came early in the fourth quarter as Spring-Ford attempted to draw within a touchdown of the Skins.
“Turnovers are key,” said Joyce. “If you can take the ball away, you take their momentum away and give yourself a chance on offense.
“It definitely helps winning football games.”
Given a short field after a sack and a partially deflected punt, the Rams needed to drive the ball just 22 yards to close within seven points midway through the fourth quarter. Soon after an apparent TD pass from quarterback T.J. Pergine to senior Mitchell Vagnozzi was called back on a Rams penalty, Joyce latched onto an ill-advised aerial from the Spring-Ford QB, ending the Rams’ possession at the Skins’ 10 yard line
“Fourth quarter, we wanted to seal the game,” said Joyce. “I made a good read on him and just put the game away.”
From there, Stills capped a nine-play, 90-yard touchdown drive with a 28-yard scoring sprint to help seal the win. Joel’s last two touches in the game netted 52 yards for Neshaminy and he recorded earlier TD scampers of 21 and 32 yards.
Stills gives all the credit to the offensive line, which is anchored by senior 265-pound tackle Gio Figueroa and senior 255-pound guard Nick Napadano.
“Breaking into the secondary part of the defense has to do with the offensive line,” he explained.
“They are really a big factor. If I can’t get past the front line, I can’t manage to get into the secondary and do my magic.”
With the win, the Skins advance to the D1 quarterfinals next Friday night versus eighth-seeded Pennsbury, a 17-0 winner over No. 9 CB South.
A week ago, Neshaminy needed a last-minute flea-flicker from Joyce to McAndrew to get past the Falcons 21-20.
In other District 1 6A playoff action, Coatesville outpaced Truman 51-22, Downingtown East eliminated Owen J Roberts, 42-13, Perk Valley got past Penn Wood 38-30, Pennridge blanked Quakertown 24-0, Garnet Valley surpassed CB West 32-13 and North Penn advanced with a 41-26 win over Haverford.
In the D1/D12 Class 2A playoff bracket, Bristol was upended by West Catholic, 50-6.
District 1 Class 6A Tournament
Neshaminy 42, Spring-Ford 21
(Nov. 3 at Neshaminy)
NESHAMINY (10-1) 7 14 14 7 – 42
SPRING-FORD (6-5) 7 6 8 0 – 21
S-F — Justin DiFrancesco 5 run (Taylor Smith kick)
N — Joel Stills 21 run (Matt Leonhauser kick)
N — Oleh Manzyk 1 run (Leonhauser kick)
N — Mike Crescenzo 11 run (Leonhauser kick)
S-F — DiFrancesco 36 run (Smith kick)
N — Joel Stills 32 run (Leonhauser kick)
S-F — DiFrancesco 7 run (T.J. Pergine run)
N — Cory Joyce 33 pass from Brody McAndrew (Leonhauser kick)
N — Joel Stills 28 run (Leonhauser kick)
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