TOWAMENCIN >> When La Salle’s 28-point lead slipped down to seven in the fourth quarter, Isaiah Jones rolled out, found Marvin Harrison in the end zone and put the Explorers back on solid footing.
“We needed that touchdown,” Jones said. “I think that was to seal to deal. “And especially Marvin, it’s his first year playing for us and everything, him being a freshman and catching it in his first game. It was pretty big for him, pretty big for me, my longest touchdown pass so far.”
After missing his entire junior season due to an ACL tear, Jones was ready for Friday night. The senior quarterback’s 27-yard touchdown pass to Harrison had La Salle up 35-21 on North Penn with 6:46 remaining. His 1-yard TD toss to Brett Mallee 1:17 later effectively sealed things for the Explorers, who left Crawford Stadium with a 41-28 victory over the Knights.
“I’ve been waiting for it. My last game was two years ago and last year I was standing on the sidelines,” Jones said. “It’s just great to be back and be able to come out with the W after we lost last year.”
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) August 26, 2017
Jones completed 11-of-18 passes for 142 yards and also ran for 133 yards and a score as the Explorers (1-0) — ranked seventh in the PaPrepLive Top 20 — raced out to a 28-0 lead in the third quarter of the Week 1 contest before No. 3 North Penn (0-1) finally found its offense after struggling to move the ball in the first half.
“It’s a good start. Not a good end, at least that’s the way I look at it,” La Salle coach John Steinmetz said.
The Knights scored three straight touchdowns to make things interesting – Justis Henley hauling in a 16-yard touchdowns pass despite tight coverage to pull the Knights within 28-21 at 10:44 in the fourth.
“I think we just said we’re going to continue to run our offense,” North Penn coach Dick Beck said. “It was nice when we threw the ball deep a couple times we actually threw a strike and they guy made a play, where it seemed like we had guys behind their guys and we kept missing them.”
North Penn forced a La Salle 3-and-out and got the ball back looking to tie with 8:48 remaining. Facing a 4th-and-3 at their own 30, the Knights elected to go for it only to have DePaul’s pass deflected at the line and fall incomplete.
“I thought we were down, we were close enough to get it. I kind of liked the play, unfortunately we threw it to the wrong guy,” Beck said. “It is what it is.”
Three plays later, Jones connected with Harrison, extending the margin to 14. North Penn’s next drive also ended with a turnover on downs – this one at the Knights’ 25 – and Jones proceeded to put La Salle up 20 by finding Mallee on a 1-yard strike.
“North Penn’s a good team but we also have to stay on our toes,” Jones said. “We became sluggish. We just need to learn from these mistakes we made today and just improve on them.”
Manny Quiles had 78 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries for the Explorers, who have won seven of eight opening game contest with the Knights since 2010. Mallee finished with six catches for 93 yards and a score.
North Penn’s DePaul was 11-of-24 passing for 169 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Henley – who played quarterback on the Knights’ first two drives – caught five passes for 113 yards, 75 coming on a completion in the third that set up NP’s second touchdown.
Xzavier Gorski paced North Penn with 78 yards and a score on 12 carries – all in the second half.
“I just feel like we haven’t found our identity yet,” said Beck of the offense. “It’s one of the things where you get in these third and longs and you got a guy open and we don’t throw a strike or we run the wrong pattern or we line up in the wrong formation or the guy doesn’t run full speed cause we’re tired. There’s a lot of things. It’s just not the kids’ fault. we got to do better as coaches preparing.
“But I thought the effort in the second half was outstanding. And I was proud of that.”
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) August 26, 2017
Both teams are on the road in Week 2. La Salle visits Maryland’s McDonough School while North Penn is at Downingtown East.
North Penn came up empty on all six of its possessions before halftime – punting on four of them – while the Explorers found the end zone on three consecutive drives to hold a 21-0 lead at the break.
La Salle began the second half with a seven-play, 70-yard drive capped by Quiles’ 1-yard touchdown run to make it 28-0 at 8:48 in the third quarter.
But North Penn got a bounce to go its way – recovering a muffed punt at the La Salle 22 and Gorski scored on a 17-yard run at 7:04 in the third to cut the margin down to 28-6.
On the Knights’ next drive, DePaul connected with Henley on a deep ball for 75 yards down to the La Salle 2. A Khan Jamal 1-yard touchdown run and DePaul finding Owen Thomas for the two-point conversion made it 28-14 at 3:24.
“Well the thing that surprised me when we went into halftime down whatever we down, large number of points, nobody had their heads down,” Henley said. “We all knew it was going to be a game the second half and we would come out firing. And that’s exactly (what) these guys did.
“I was proud of them. I was proud of all my teammates because everybody had their heads up and kept fighting the whole game. I’m just proud of the effort we put in.”
Henley’s 16-yard touchdown reception finished an eight-play, 68-yard drive and North Penn was within 28-21 with 10:44 left. But the next NP two drives ended on turnover on downs and the Explorers proceeded to pull away thanks to Jones’ two touchdown passes.
DePaul found Shamar Edwards on an 8-yard touchdown pass with 1:12 remaining to make it 41-28.
La Salle took a 7-0 lead at 9:27 in the second quarter on Quiles’ 1-yard touchdown run at 9:27.
North Penn punter putting a knee down trying to handle a snap gave the Explorers the ball at the Knights’ 35. Five plays later, Jones crossed the goal line from six yards out at 3:18 – a blocked extra point giving La Salle a 13-0 edge.
A Frank Joyce interception set the Explorers up 17 yards from the end zone with Quiles’ 3-yard TD run and Jones hitting Troy Holland on the two-point conversion had La Salle leading 21-0 with 46.6 seconds left in the half.