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North Penn erupts in 1st half, rolls past Pennridge in SOL Continental opener

North Penn's Shamar Edwards runs for a 56-yard touchdown during the first half of the Knights' game against Pennridge on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (Debby High/For Digital First Media)

EAST ROCKHILL >> The rate at which the North Penn football team was racking up points in the first half Friday night even left Knights coach Dick Beck a bit surprised.

“I mean, we scored five touchdowns in a matter of like six minutes. I looked up, I was like ‘Oh my God, there’s still five minutes to go in the half,” he said.

In a span of 3 minutes, 33 seconds in the first quarter against host Pennridge, North Penn needed just two plays and a punt return to flip a 7-0 deficit into a 21-7 lead.

From there, the Knights found the end zone two more times before halftime, building a 35-7 advantage as they started Suburban One League Continental Conference play by besting the Rams 42-20 at Helman Field.

Shamar Edwards and Julian White both ran for a pair of touchdowns while Jon Haynes return a punt 73 yards for a TD then ran for another score in the third as the Knights (4-0, 1-0 conference) posted a season-high in points to earn a sixth consecutive victory over Pennridge (1-3, 0-1).

North Penn quarterback Solomon Robinson throws a pass during the Knights’ game against Pennridge on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (Debby High/For Digital First Media)

“We always talk about how explosive we are. We worked so hard this offseason and sometimes – it’s like that for all of us – we can turn a 10-yard play into a touchdown,” Haynes said. “Fortunately, it all just happened the same night.  We all just had the hot hand tonight.”

Pennridge cut the margin from 28 down to 15 in the third quarter after quarterback Zak Kantor’s two long touchdowns passes to Jonathan Post and Shane Hartzell made it 35-20. But the Knights responded with an eight-play, 70-yard drive capped by Haynes’ 13-yard touchdown run at 3:27 in the third to put North Penn up 42-20.

“It was a tale of different quarters. First quarter, I think we came out flying, we can out and threw some punches and did some good things. Second quarter, we stepped off a little bit,” Rams coach Cody Muller said. “Credit to Coach Beck and North Penn and those kids cause they’re a great team. You can’t be up and down against a good team like that.”

Edwards finished with a game-high 166 yards on 16 carries, caught a pair of passes for 49 yards and also intercepted Kantor late in the second quarter. White added 74 yards on 10 carries while quarterback Solomon Robinson was 10-fo-19 passing for 146 yards.

“We work real hard, so once we go up we just keep our foot in the pedal and we just keep playing,” Edwards said.

Kantor completed 10-of-25 passes for 247 yards, two touchdowns and a pick. Post finished with four receptions for 113 yards.

Pennridge, which as has lost three straight for the first time since 2016, looks to end its skid Friday hosting Souderton.

“I told the kid, ‘Man we saw four tough teams in the first four games,’” Muller said. “Del Val does great things up in that Northern Conference then Neshaminy’s been a power, North Penn’s been a power, Perk Valley’s been a playoff team for a few years now. So it definitely was a good measuring stick, it was a good challenge to see where we were at.

“And we just got to keep building. I’m proud of these kids, the way they responded, the way they handed adversity it was awesome.”

North Penn, 4-0 for the second time in three seasons, is home Friday against Central Bucks South.

“I just think we need more consistency throughout the entire game,” Beck said. “If we’re first down, we can’t lose yardage on first down with a direct run. We got to be three yards and a cloud of dust. Whether it’s an o-line missing a block or the quarterback turns the wrong way or fullback goes the wrong way, we still have some mental errors we need to clean up.”

Pennridge’s Chris Feralio sacks North Penn quarterback Solomon Robinson with the Rams recovering the fumble for a touchdown during the first quarter of their game on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (Debby High/Digital First Media)

On its first offensive series, Pennridge turned the ball over on downs at the North Penn 6 after coming up a yard short on 4th and 10. But two plays later, Rams linebacker Chris Feralio forced a fumble on his sack of Robinson and Stephen Yencha recovered the ball in the end zone for a 7-0 lead at 7:20 in the first quarter.

“The sack and the fumble, the kid made a really nice play,” Beck said. “It was a great blitz, 25 (Feralio) came through the B gap, our play-side guard whiffed on him. That’s a big play. I say congratulations – nice play, bad play call by me.”

Edwards answered quickly for the Knights. On 3rd and 1 from the NP 44, he found a seam to the right and dashed 56 yards to the end zone, tying the contest 7-7 at 5:39.

“Saw the hole – daylight,” Edwards said. “I just hit it as fast as I could.”

After stopping the Rams on 4th-and-1 as their own 44, the Knights went ahead on the next snap – White bursting up the middle for a 55-yard touchdown to make it 14-7 North Penn at 3:18.

Haynes proceeded to put the Knights up 21-7 after a Pennridge three-and-out, finding a path on his punt return down the right sideline then working back across the field to score on a 73-yard TD with 2:06 left in the opening quarter.

“We were to the short field, I cut back left, broke one tackle and I give a lot of credit to my teammates, none of them stopped blocking on the play when I cut back right and they opened up a seam,” Haynes said. I hit in the seam.

“I give a lot of credit to the kid on Pennridge, he never gave up on the play, but I knew it was a crucial moment in the game, I knew we needed points, so I knew I wasn’t stopping until I got in the end zone.”

North Penn extended its lead to 28-7 after another Rams three-and-out, with White completing a seven-play, 53-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run at 9:47 in the second quarter.

The Knights began their next possession at their own five but on 2nd-and-10, Edwards broke off a 35-yard run to the 40.Seven plays later, Edwards scored on a 10-yard run to make it 35-7 with 4:04 to go in the half.

Pennridge’s Jonathan Post breaks loose of the hold of North Penn’s Evan Spann during their game on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (Debby High/For Digital First Media)

Three plays into the second half, Kantor hit Jonathan Post down the sideline with Post shrugging off a tackle and racing in for a 73-yard touchdown at 10:33 in the third.

The Rams needed just one play its next possession to pull within 35-20, as Hartzell made a one-handed snag over the middle and sped off for an 80-yard TD at 6:59.

“Just playing ball, doing the things that we do. Jon made a great catch and Shane made an amazing – that one-hander, Shane’s a stud,” Muller said. “I mean there’s no doubt about it. He can do things like that any day. Him doing something like that I think was a big play that we needed. Unfortunately we just didn’t have enough.”

North Penn, however, took a 42-20 lead on the ensuing drive – Haynes tight-roping the sideline to score on a 13-yard run at 3:27 in the third.

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