FRANCONIA >> It was midway through the second quarter, and North Penn was still without a first down, outgained 154-25, and trailing 17-0.
“I just knew we couldn’t go out like that,” said Knights running back Shamar Edwards. “We had to make a comeback. We had to play tough.”
“They came out ready to fight,” backfield partner Julian White described, speaking of rival Souderton Area. “We just had to respond.”
Edwards and White ran deep into the night, quarterback Solomon Robinson had an extra zip on his passes, and determined North Penn battled its way back, rallying for a 29-27 victory over Big Red in a Suburban One League Continental Conference contest.
“North Penn is that ultimate program that finds ways to win those games,” Indians coach Ed Gallagher said. “They found a way to win the Council Rock South game last week, they found a way to win the Neshaminy game, and they win those games down the stretch because their kids don’t accept losing.
“And that’s what we aspire to be.”
North Penn remained perfect, raising its overall record to 7-0 and its conference mark to 3-0. Big Red, still in playoff contention, saw its three-game winning streak stopped, falling to 3-4 overall and 3-1 in the Continental.
The Knights came to life with four minutes and 32 seconds left in the first half, when Robinson hit a streaking Jon Haynes down the left sideline for a 59-yard score. The extra point was no good, but North Penn was back in it, down 17-6.
“That was an unbelievable throw, and Jon ran a great route,” Knights coach Dick Beck said. “It was good to see him catch a long one. The two throws that Solomon made — the one to Jon and the one to Evan Spann (for 43 yards in the third quarter) were big-time throws for us.
“And the one to Spann in the middle of the field to help get us to 14 points was big.”
That 31-yarder to Spann set up a three-yard touchdown run by Edwards (69 yards, 2 TD), cutting the deficit to 17-12. North Penn went for two, and Robinson (51 yards rushing, 133 passing) ran to the corner, bringing the Knights within 17-14.
William Leyland booted home a 40-yard field goal for Big Red in the closing seconds of the half, making it a 20-14 game at the break.
North Penn received the second-half kickoff and marched to the go-ahead score. Gains by White and Edwards got the drive in motion, and then Robinson hit the big one to Spann, setting up a two-yard burst by Edwards that pushed the Knights into the lead for the first time at 21-20.
That’s the way it remained until late in the fourth, as North Penn, missing its top three defensive tackles due to injury, found a way to protect its one-point lead.
“I thought we played pretty well on defense in the second half,” Beck said. “We were playing some guys up front that really haven’t played defense this year, playing both ways. So I think early on that was a little bit of a struggle.
“And in the second half, I think they started to get their footing a little bit more.”
— Kev Hunter (@khunter10) October 5, 2018
The North Penn defense made its biggest play with about two minutes to play, when Erik Laughlin pounced on a Souderton fumble on the Big Red 13.
On the very next play, Robinson sprinted into the end zone, extending the Knights’ lead to 27-20. Souderton jumped offsides on the extra-point attempt, moving the ball closer, and North Penn decided to go for two in order to try and push the lead to nine.
Edwards charged in, making it a 29-20 Knights advantage with 2:11 to go.
Souderton, and quarterback Andrew Vince, refused to call it a night.
“Every time they scored, we responded and came back,” said Gallagher, who praised Vince’s two-way play: 216 yards through the air, eight tackles on defense. “I’m so proud of the kids. And the way they fought. They fought hard, gave it everything they had.
“We just made too many mistakes. But you certainly can’t fault the effort.”
The Indians cut it to 29-27 when Vince threw a 13-yard strike for a touchdown to Nick Guthre with 1:32 to go.
Leyland’s ensuing onside kick was well-placed, but recovered by North Penn.
The Knights then pounded their way to victory, runs by Edwards and White providing the crucial first down that allowed NP to work down the clock.
Said Edwards: “We knew if we got first downs, the game was over. Every time in the huddle, we just said ‘first down, first down. O-line, just give us a push, and Julian and I are gonna get the first downs.'”
Early on, Souderton’s Wing-T moved the ball in waves, marching swiftly downfield for a 7-0 lead when Ethan Moyer scored from six yards out. Deandre Wakefield, hampered later in the game by a foot injury, had 93 yards on 15 carries in the contest.
The Indians doubled their lead to 14-0 when Tre Samuels came back and went up to grab a deep ball by Vince, breaking away and turning it into a 71-yard score.
A 38-yard field goal by Leyland extended the Souderton lead to 17-0.
“There was no panic at all,” White said. “Let’s just get back in there and play. Coach Beck told us before the game, ‘if something goes bad, don’t put your head down.’
“It was about responding, being tough in the trenches, running the ball, doing all of your assignments perfectly. We fought through adversity.”
EAST NOTTINGHAM >> Unionville has had plenty of leading men in big games this...
ASTON — Sun Valley’s four senior starters stood tall in the Vanguards’ 82-65 win over...
/ 20 hours ago
LEMOYNE >> The storybook comeback demands a storybook ending, right? Well, not always. But...
MIDDLETOWN — Critics could say that Penncrest cruised to a 67-36 win over Pottstown...
LOWER MORELAND TWP. — Shane Cohen admits he floats comfortably between two roles for Lower...
QUAKERTOWN >> Excitement, not exhaustion, was the bigger concern for Derian Bradford after the Faith...
MALVERN >> Jack Flanagan has never been happy to just make the playoffs. But...
ROYERSFORD >> Pope John Paul II head coach Brendan Stanton said when opponents view...
/ 21 hours ago
PHILADELPHIA >> It’s not a good idea to lose track of Jake Timby. It...