TOWAMENCIN >> Julian White called it “football weather,” and it was a determined Knights ground attack as well as a resilient effort by the defense that produced a rain-soaked 21-13 non-league victory over La Salle.
“La Salle’s a great team. We expect nothing less – a brawl,” White said after the two rivals surged and slogged back and forth in the Crawford Stadium mud Friday night. “We consider them to be one of our biggest rivals, and we know it’s always gonna be a dogfight.”
White’s two rushing touchdowns and a 60-yard TD run by quarterback Solomon Robinson lifted the Knights to 2-0, in a contest in which North Penn, No. 4 in this week’s Papreplive.com Top 20, led the whole way and then held off one last Explorer charge in the final minutes.
“They’re always good. They’re always tough,” Knights coach Dick Beck said. “And they’re very well-coached. We’re happy with the win. We don’t have (RB/SS) Shamar Edwards and we don’t have (OLB/WR) Nick Intrieri (due to injuries), and to gut one out like that tonight is pretty good for us.”
White, dragging a defender along with him, powered into the end zone from 14 yards out to work the North Penn lead up to 21-6 with 8 minutes, 52 seconds left to play. White finished with 12 carries for 71 yards and a pair of scores.
“My blockers made the way for me. All I had to do was run behind them and they took me to the end zone,” he said of a new but rapidly-developing offensive line.
La Salle (0-2), No. 7 in this week’s Papreplive.com Top 20, sliced it to 21-13 when quarterback Jack Machita hit Kahlil Diarrah on a nine-yard slant with 7:13 left to play. North Penn gained one first down and then had to punt.
The Explorers took over with four minutes to play, with 60 yards of soggy real estate ahead of them. North Penn just needed one more stop.
“We weren’t concerned,” (RB/DE) White said. “I had 100 percent trust in my boys. We worked too hard.”
Machita, throwing against a North Penn defense that had pressured him most of the evening, drove the visitors to the Knights 25. On 4th-and-10 at the NP 25, Machita was flushed from the pocket, rolled left, then threw down the middle, where Erik Laughlin came up with the game-clinching interception.
“I wasn’t expecting anything less, especially against these guys,” Explorers coach John Steinmetz said of how hard-fought the game was. “We ran the ball early and just can’t close. We have to take advantage of the opportunities we have.”
Twice, La Salle had to settle for a pair of field goals – 35 and 29 yards off the foot of Jake Gandolfo. White’s two-yard plunge gave the Knights a 7-0 lead before Gandolfo’s kicks made it 7-3 at the half and 7-6 in the third quarter.
La Salle seemingly came up with an interception midway through the third, but it was wiped out on a roughing-the-passer call that granted North Penn a first down at its own 40. On the very next play, Solomon took the snap, exploited a seam, and was on his way to a 60-yard score that extended the margin to 14-6.
Said Beck of his offensive line: “For five inexperienced guys, I think they’re playing pretty tough.”
The Knights gained 248 yards on the ground and allowed just 59, the type of recipe that wins in any weather.
“We love it,” White said of the persistent rain drenching Crawford Stadium all evening long. “It feels good out here. This is just what we wanted.”
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