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North Penn grounds out win over CB East to stay undefeated

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TOWAMENCIN >> With North Penn clinging to a three-point lead in the fourth quarter, Julian White knew the path to holding off Central Bucks East was on the ground. 

“Let’s just run the ball,” the Knights senior said. “Let’s keeping punching it down their throat until they stop it, let’s just keep driving. We got the muscle up front, they’re playing well. Me and Shamar (Edwards) running the ball, Solomon (Robinson) running the ball, too. And we just kept it moving.”

Starting at its own seven yard line, North Penn kept collecting chunks of yards and burned almost eight minutes in putting together a 93-yard, 16-play drive — all runs — that ended on Edwards’ 7-yard touchdown run with 2:26 left as the Knights topped the Patriots for a 31-21 Suburban One League Continental Conference win Friday night at Crawford Stadium.

“It’s our guys – Shamar, Julian, RJ Macnamara, Nate Brown, Solomon Robinson — just running for tough yards, getting north and south,” North Penn coach Beck said. “And the guys – tight end-to-tight end – blocking their tails off.”

The Knights twice converted 3rd-and-1s as they earned seven first downs on the 7 minutes, 51 second drive. Edwards ran nine times during the series, collecting 51 of his game-high 162 yards as North Penn posted 302 rushing yards in improving to 5-0 (2-0 conference).  

“That drive, it was pretty tense,” said Edwards, who eclipsed 100 yards rushing for a third straight game. “We knew we had to score and every time we got the ball, I just knew I had to get a first down. I told Julian the same thing – if you get the ball, get a first. I told our o-line put ya’ll heads down and block, get a good push. We’re going to the rest on our feet.”

CB East (2-3, 0-1) went up 7-0 on Jake Ventresca’s touchdown on a 52-yard interception return at 6:41 in the first quarter then took the lead again 14-10 with 5:30 left in the first half on Ventresca’s two-yard TD run.

But North Penn went into the break leading 17-14 when White plowed over the goal line from two yards out at 2:54. The Knights extended their advantage to 10 at 8:43 in the third quarter on a Robinson 8-yard touchdown run.

“My favorite motto in all of football is three and yards and a cloud of dust. And I think we did that a little bit tonight,” Beck said. “As you could see, I don’t think we played our best game, but I mean, I thought, at times I thought we played pretty darn good.”

White added 68 yards on 10 carries as North Penn and followed up his second-quarter TD with being crowned Homecoming King during halftime.

“I didn’t know it was going to turn out that but I’m happy it did,” White said. “It was an exciting moment, lot of people in the crowd and cheering and all that. It’s one I’ll never forget.”

North Penn claimed its 12th straight win over Central Bucks East, which has not beaten the Knights since 2001.

“We came out pretty flat, but we just kept our heads up the whole time,” Edwards said. “We know that we’re good and they’re a pretty good team, but we’re tougher.”

Ventresca had 94 yards and a TD on 21 carries to lead the Patriots, who lost their second straight. East quarterback Evan O’Donnell was 10-of-18 passing for 97 yards and also ran 10 times for 37 yards and a touchdown.

“They mix it up a lot and you got to cover a lot when they’re on offense. But I thought on the whole, I thought we played pretty good D,” Beck said. “We gave them a touchdown by throwing one right to the defender who wasn’t even trying to intercept the ball. It just, threw it right to him.”

North Penn steps out of conference play Friday when it visits Council Rock South. Central Bucks East hosts Souderton in a SOL Continental matchup Saturday.

Robinson took a QB keeper eight yards around the left side for a touchdown to make it 24-14 NP at 8:43 in the third. But the Patriots responded with an eight-play, 75-yard drive which O’Donnell finished with a 1-yard score to pull within 24-21 6:18.

After the teams traded punts, North Penn drove 38 yards down to the East 13 but on 3rd-and-6, Robinson was intercepted by Joey Haug, who returned the ball to the Patriots 35.

The ensuing possession, however, ended at the 50 and East punted, pinning North Penn at its own 7 at 10:17 in the fourth. The Knights went on to put together their clinching 16-play, 93-yard drive to regain the 10-point lead when Edwards found a path through the right side of the line for a 7-yard TD at 2:26.

“We knew it was going to be a dogfight. Every game’s going to be a dogfight. Yeah, they came out tough, CB East is a very good team. But you know we had to be tougher,” White said. “Many times, they came up with big plays, we talked to the guys in the huddle, and we just basically knew, we had to make something happen if we want to come out with a win.”

Down 31-21, East took over at its own 25 and moved the ball to the Knights 26 but missed a 43-yard field goal with 13 seconds remaining.

Ventresca gave the Patriots the early lead with his midfield interception, retuning it down the sideline before cutting left across the field and reaching the end zone for a 52-yard pick six.

North Penn’s next drive began with a false start but on 3rd-and-1 from the Knights 29, Edwards broke away for a 38-yard gain to the East 33. Three players later, Jon Haynes scored on a 16-yard run – leaping over one tackle attempt then powering through another to cross the goal line at 4:03 in the first quarter.

The Knights had a 1st-and-Goal from the 10 after Robinson connected with Evan Spann for 39 yards but NP settled for an Ayoub Cherradi 23-yard field goal to go up 10-7 at 11:52 in the second quarter.

East reclaimed the lead with a 13-play, 80-yard drive. On 4th-and-2 at the NP 9, O’Donnell ran for seven. Ventresca then reached over the goal line for a 2-yard TD the next play at 5:30 and the visitors were up 14-10.

But North Penn marched 63 yards on seven plays in 2 minutes, 30 seconds with White’s 2-yard TD run at 2:54 giving the Knights lead for good.

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