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Pennridge shuts out Quakertown in District 1-6A 1st round

Pennrige's Nick Tarburton carries the ball during the Rams' District 1-6A first round game against Quakertown on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017. (Debby High/For Digital First Media)

EAST ROCKHILL >> The rivalry could wait until Thanksgiving. Friday night, the Pennridge football team was set on claiming its fist playoff victory in five years.

“We knew it was Quakertown, there’s a lot of emotion this week,” Rams senior Oliver Jervis said. “But coach was just keep it even keel, no social media, no nothing. And just a normal week, 1-0.”

An inability to finish drives had seventh-seeded Pennridge ahead just 6-0 at halftime of their District 1-6A first round matchup with visiting No. 10 Quakertown. But two touchdowns in a 20-second span in the third quarter push the lead to 18 and that was more than enough for the Rams’ defense, which posted its second shutout of the season as Pennridge reached the quarterfinals with a 24-0 victory at Helman Field.

“We had — I don’t know if adversity is the word — but we could of certainly put up more points in the first half,” Rams coach Jeff Hollenbach said. “Missed the pass down there, missing the pass here, not scoring when we’re on the six inch line. All that kind of stuff. It felt like it should have been more than 6-0 but again credit to Quakertown, the kids played tough and I’m thrilled with my team coming out the second half with some pressure and really playing well under the pressure.”

Pennridge’s Kyle Schetter takes the handoff from quarterback Zak Kantor during the Rams’ District 1-6A first round game against Quakertown on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017. (Debby High/Digital First Media)

Nick Tarburton had 111 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, Kyle Schetter ran 15 times for 99 yards and two scores and Pennridge got big plays in special teams — a punt block and a kickoff recovery both led to touchdowns —  as the Rams (9-2) earned the program’s first district victory since a 4A quarterfinal win over Pennsbury in 2012.

Pennridge advances to visit No. 2 Perkiomen Valley — which rallied to beat No. 15 Penn Wood 38-30 — in a rematch of a Week 3 contest that saw the Rams blank the Vikings 29-0.

“Special teams were huge. And Oliver making his two plays, the onsides kick worked great,” Hollenbach said. “I’m still a little disappointed offensively we couldn’t punch it in when we needed to. Really for most of the year, we’ve been pretty good inside the red zone and tonight early we weren’t.”

Quakertown (7-3), trying to reach the district quarters for the third time in four seasons, recovered its opening kickoff but gave the ball back to the Rams three plays later when quarterback Brad Bryan was intercepted by Jadin Bass. That was the start of the Panthers’ struggles against the Rams’ D as they gained just 168 total yards of offense and were only inside the Pennridge 30 once, that coming late in the fourth quarter.

Quakertown was shutout for the second time in 2017, having previously been blanked by Central Bucks West 20-0 in Week 3.

“Just some miscues on some special teams that hurt and we couldn’t get the offense rolling because of that,” Panthers coach George Banas said. “Our offense, they need a couple big plays to get momentum going. And it didn’t seem like we got enough big plays out of it. Their defense is stout, but I thought we gave them a heck of a test. I’m proud of our program, I’m proud of our kids.

“We’ve been in the playoffs three out of the last four years and that shows that you’re a quality program and these guys, they’re a senior-heavy team and they’re a tough out, but I thought we gave them a really good test tonight.”

Christian Patrick paced Quakertown on the ground with 87 yards on 16 carries.

Pennridge — which has won six in a row — was playing its first-ever postseason game at Helman Field and claimed its second straight win over the Panthers. The Rams had lost the prior three games in the rivalry, including a 14-10 defeat in the 2014 District 1-4A first round.

Pennridge’s Josh Pinkney carries the ball during the Rams’ District 1-6A first round game against Quakertown on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017. (Debby High/For Digital First Media)

“For some of us here it’s a deja vu from three years ago,” Hollenbach said. “So we had the same situation three years ago and so for us to come back and kind of turn that around now — at least on this game — is just awesome.”

Pennridge made it a two-score game when quarterback Zak Kantor got outside the pocket and found Tucker Chaikin in the back corner of the end zone at 7:56 in the third quarter to put the Rams up 12-0.

Quakertown could not handle the ensuing kickoff and Anthony Dechant’s recovery set Pennridge up at the Panthers 46. Kantor connected with Joe Devine for 41 yards with Tarburton capping the two-play drive with a five-yard touchdown run at 7:36 for an 18-0 lead.

“I thought 6-0, that’s we’re we wanted to be at half,” Banas said. “We wanted to be a one-score game either way, so I was really happy with the half, the first half, the scoring coming out of the first half. Just a couple miscues and they got momentum and in high school football, that’s a lot.”

Schetter extended the lead to 24-0 with 5:42 left in the fourth on his 14-yard touchdown run, making amends for losing a fumble close to the end zone on the Rams’ previous possession.

“I felt so bad and then next drive I was like I got to get redemption,” Schetter said.

The Rams first two drives ended with turnover on downs at the Quakertown 1 and 21. Jervis’ punt block and return to the Panther 15 resulted in the Rams scoring the game’s first points — Schetter crossing the goal line from a yard out to make it 6-0 with 5:52 left in the second quarter.

“We’ve been practicing it all week. We knew they punted a little bit differently so we just worked on me going off the end,” said Jervis, who also had an interception. “And, you know, you just push a guy back and the rest of the team did their thing, so it worked out for us.”

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