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Corbin’s stellar interception starts North Penn rally in District 1-6A semifinal win

North Penn's Jon Haynes intercepts a pass over Downingtown West's Jackson Luneburg in the fourth quarter of their District 1-6A semifinal on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. The interception was one of four in the game by the Knights. (Nate Heckenberger/For Digital First Media)
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DOWNINGTOWN >> Shamar Edwards came close to not even getting the chance to lend his right hand to the moment that shifted momentum towards North Penn in the Knights’ 35-21 District 1-6A semifinal victory over Downingtown West Friday night.

“When (West’s Jackson Luneberg) started running the route, I fell,” Edwards said.

With Edwards taking a slight tumble to the Kottmeyer Stadium turf, Luneburg broke open in the back of the end zone and Whippets quarterback Ryan Wetzel lofted a third-down pass to towards the 6-foor-5 junior.

Luneburg leaped and grasped the ball and appeared poised to expand on West’s 21-14 lead in the third quarter. But before he could come down, Edwards hustled to get back in the play and knocked the ball out of Luneburg’s hands and towards the end zone’s back line.

And there was Kaleem Corbin at the right place to make a highlight-reel interception.

“I just tried to do the best I can,” Corbin said. “I see the ball in the air so I tried to go closest to the ball. When I see that, I just toe-tapped and caught it.”

Before the ball could land out of bounds, Corbin grabbed it, found a way to put a foot down inbounds and after a moment of discussion by the officials, the Knights had the ball at their own 20 still trailing by seven.

“I jumped up, I saw the ball in the air, I broke it up. I saw Kaleem pick it off and I went crazy,” Edwards said. “I knew we was getting the ball back so we had to go down the field and drive.”

The ensuing possession, Edwards put North Penn back on level footing with his 58-yard touchdown run that made it 21-21 with 2:06 left in the third.

“How about Kaleem catching it and tippy-toeing on the line? Forget about it,” said Knights coach Dick Beck of Corbin’s interception. “Look, did we get a little lucky? I think Shamar made a great play. So, did we get a little lucky that the thing popped up and we caught the ball and kept our feet in? Yeah.

“Give Downingtown West credit. They score there, they’re up 28-14 — game might be over then.”

Instead, after tying the contest Edwards ran for another two touchdowns in collecting an astounding 318 rushing yards as the North Penn scored the final 21 points to earn a chance to play defending champ Coatesville at home for a second District 1 title in three seasons.

“I’m speechless,” Corbin said. “I’m just happy. Need to get it done. Every week we get it done.”

Thirteen weeks and so far 13 wins, the latest victory coming with a curveball as Thursday’s snow shifted the game site from Wissahickon to Downingtown West.

“When we found out that we was coming here, our team was very upset,” Edwards said. “But I just calmed them down, I told them we can play anywhere. You know, the first two weeks we played at Wissahickon — that’s not our home field. So I said we came come here and play too.”

With Edwards’ big night, the Knights posted their highest point total of the playoffs and scored more than 30 points for the sixth time this season.

Defensively, North Penn stymied the Whippets offense after a pair of second-quarter TDs — West’s lone score after halftime coming on Luneberg’s 87-yard kickoff return to start the third. And while the Knights gave up a few big plays to Whippets passing game, they did intercept Wetzel four times.

“I thought we lose their guys a couple of times on some patterns,” Beck said. “Maybe we panicked on a couple of balls that were 50/50 and we should go up for and I don’t think we’re doing a great job of that. But how can you complain about winning a game like that when it looked like we were down and out.”

Evan Spann had the first interception late in second quarter to put the Knights at the West 25 with a chance to break the 14-14 tie but North Penn tossed a pick of their own on the next play.

After Corbin’s stellar takeaway, Jon Haynes had interception No. 3, snagging a Wetzel fourth-down pass in the end zone to preserve at 5:30 in the fourth North Penn’s 28-21 lead. Edwards doubled the advantage with a 39-yard touchdown run at 1:26 then capped his night with an interception to put the finishes touches on the win.

“It felt great to seal the game,” Edwards said. “Actually wanted to run it back, but I was like let me just take a knee and get the game over with.”

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