YEADON — Penn Wood seniors Edmund Dennis and Kennedy Poles were in agreement Saturday night.
That 28-7 on the scoreboard at Kerr Field looked … OK. Not bad, not great.
The Patriots had routed previously undefeated Oxford. It was supposed to be a battle pitting Del Val League and Ches-Mont League powerhouses. Instead, it was ugly, and it was one-sided.
The offensive slugfest never happened. The Patriots played their C-minus game on offense and still scored three touchdowns. Penn Wood’s other score was a 45-yard interception return by Aliyoh Turay.
In his post-game talk, coach Ato Troop gave his guys a stern talk. Not good enough, men. You’ve got to be better.
This Penn Wood team has district and state championship aspirations. By the way, even if they weren’t on their A-game, they are 4-0 and the No. 2 team in the Daily Times Super 7, so there’s no reason to be down on the Patriots.
But they were sloppy Saturday night. It showed in the 100 yards of penalties and three turnovers. It showed in the eight times star quarterback Desman Johnson was sacked.
Despite the offense’s struggles, this was a game that Penn Wood’s defense could be proud of. The unit was mean and nasty and left Oxford players wanting no part of returning to the field, especially in the fourth quarter when the Hornets (3-1) casually ran their hurry-up offense but with no real sense of urgency.
Sophomore defensive end Christian Suber wore a big chain around his neck. Hanging from it was a custom license plate with the Penn Wood Patriots logo.
— Matt Smith (@DTMattSmith) September 16, 2018
They call it … the Turnover Chain. PW’s defense forced Oxford to turn the ball over on three occasions. Linebacker Dhymere Johnson and end Dashawn Brickle combined for a handful of tackles-for-loss.
“They were exactly like the team we planned on in practice,” Suber said. “But we were ready for them.”
Oxford managed only 59 yards rushing on 34 attempts. Hornets quarterbacks Brett Kochmansky and Tom Repetz went a combined 7-for-26 through the air for 90 yards and two picks.
Unfortunately for the Hornets, Kochmansky, their No. 1, had to be helped off the field in the first quarter. He got his ankle wrapped and did not return.
— Matt Smith (@DTMattSmith) September 16, 2018
Penn Wood’s defense committed only one real mistake and that’s when Oxford got its only big play of the night. Brandon McWilliams was left wide open out of the slot, caught a perfect pass from Repetz and sprinted 47 yards for Oxford’s only touchdown in the second quarter.
“Busted coverage,” Dennis said. “Nobody needs to blame anyone. We knew what happened.”
Dennis is one of the top DBs in Delco … and nobody ever throws in his general vicinity. That has left the senior feeling frustrated because he never gets interception opportunities. But his persistence and hard work paid off in the fourth quarter. Repetz threw an errant pass across the middle and Dennis was waiting.
“My first pick since sophomore year,” he said. “It feels good … real good.”
Poles scored on a 41-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Delco’s leading receiver was in motion when the ball was snapped. Johnson tossed it to him coming across and Poles darted for the corner. It’s very jet-sweep-like but in Penn Wood’s playbook … it’s a pass-and-catch.
“I just followed my blocks. Actually it all happened because of (wide receiver) Brian (Parker),” Poles said. “He had the key block, opened it up for me.”
Poles wasn’t done. With the Patriots (4-0) leading 20-7 in the second quarter, Johnson hit Poles in stride for a 32-yard touchdown. Johnson’s third touchdown pass come in the waning seconds of the first half, rolling to his right and finding running back Tayshon Harmon for a two-yard score.
The Patriots did all of their damage in the first half. The offense sputtered in the final 24 minutes. Johnson completed 50 percent of his attempts (9 of 18) for 176 yards. He threw two interceptions and was sacked eight times.
“He’s got to learn to get rid of the ball. He did the same thing last year, and we’re trying to work with him to get out of that cycle of taking sacks,” Troop said.
“We were playing with our backup center today, so he had to step up. I give (Oxford) credit because they did some things up front, like shooting gaps, and we didn’t help ourselves. I don’t know how many penalties and sacks we had, but those just killed our drives. It killed all momentum. I think we have to work on a lot of little things this week. There are times, I think, when we can be a little bit complacent and we can’t do that. We’ve got to put teams away.”
The Patriots got away with it Saturday. Oxford simply wasn’t at the Patriots’ level.
Next week they’ll see another Ches-Mont team, West Chester Rustin, before officially beginning their Del Val title defense Sept 29 at Chester.
“We’ve just got to keep our foot on the gas and not let teams back up,” Dennis said. “We know what we can do.”
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