GRATERFORD >> Pennridge’s defense is getting used to seeing some zeroes.
After shutting out rival Quakertown in the District 1 Class 6A first round, it was the No. 7 Rams’ defense again leading the way, pitching their second straight shutout in a dominating 25-0 victory over No. 2 Perkiomen Valley in the second round of the district playoffs Friday at Thomas J. Keenan Stadium.
Afterward, there wasn’t much to say for head coach Jeff Hollenbach, he was thoroughly pleased with what he saw on the field, especially against a Perkiomen Valley squad that came in averaging nearly 34 points per game.
“Second straight shutout in the playoffs, that’s really saying something,” Hollenbach said. “We shut down a really good offensive team with tons of skill so I’m really impressed with how the defense is playing.”
The shutout is the Rams’ third this season, two coming against Perkiomen Valley. The Rams were dominant on their home field in Week 3’s contest, holding Perkiomen Valley to just 170 yards of total offense en route to a resounding 29-0 victory.
Friday night was more of the same.
Led by linebacker Nick Tarburton, a Penn State commit, and the play of lineman Ryan Rapp and free safety Cooper Chaikin, the Rams defense held Perkiomen Valley to their third-lowest yardage total of the season (209 yards) and completely disrupted an otherwise solid pass game, forcing quarterback Cole Peterlin into a 9-for-28, 64-yard effort.
With lock and key around its own end zone, Pennridge found its way past the goalline using three methodical scoring drives, each lasting nine plays or more before a back-breaking touchdown in the third quarter sealed it.
Pennridge will travel to No. 3 Garnet Valley, which came back from a 35-7 deficit to stun North Penn 36-35, for a semifinal matchup next Friday night.
Perkiomen Valley sees it season come to an end despite making the second round of the district playoffs for the third straight season. Finishing drives became the issue for the Viking offense as they punted on four of their first five possessions, an interception by safety Chaikin culminating a 5-play, 52-yard drive the other result. The game marked the first time the Vikings were shut out at home since a 39-0 loss to Souderton in 2010.
“They executed well on offense, they run what they run and let’s be honest, No. 40 (Tarburton) is a special football player,” Perkiomen Valley head coach Rob Heist said. “He was all over the football field tonight. We tried to run at him and he hawks you down, you try and run at him and he blows the play up.
“Obviously we played two football games and scored zero points. Obviously they’re doing a real good job on the defensive side of the ball and that’s a credit to them.”
Pennridge built an early 7-0 lead on the back of a Joe Devine 47-yard reception from quarterback Zak Kantor, Devine hauling in the pass before bouncing off a would-be tackler en route to the score. That lead was added onto in the beginning stages of the second quarter, Kantor finding a diving Tarburton in the end zone for a seven-yard score to make it 13-0.
The Vikings threatened to answer on the game’s next possession, marching to Pennridge’s 14 before Chaikin picked off a pass into coverage from Peterlin and returned it to the Vikings’ 45 yard-line. It was Chaikin’s fifth interception since coming back from injury just four weeks ago.
“Cooper’s interception was a game-changer,” Hollenbach said.
Coming out of the half, the Rams built on the lead, Kyle Schetter (10 rushes for 49 yards) finding his way into the end zone for a eight-yard score to make it 19-0. A recovery on a presumed onside kick gave the Rams the ball back before Kantor hooked up with Schetter on a wheel route on the very next play for 45-yard touchdown and the back-breaking touchdown.
“We ran the play before the half was over and I was wide open on the side,” Schetter said. Then we ran one over by the sideline and I missed it. “We ran it again and he tossed it to me and I did what I had to do. Third time’s the charm.”
As for the onside kick … sometimes a little luck is involved in a deep district run.
“Well, it was a new kicker and we told him to kick deep and he misses the ball,” Hollenbach said. “That was not a called onsides kick. It probably looks like a great catching move on my part but it was supposed to be kicked deep. He kind of whiffed on it, it took a crazy bounce and our players were heads-up and they were able to recover it.
“We should probably work on that some more,” he said with a chuckle.
NOTES >> Kantor finished the game with 112 yards passing and three scores. Ryan Garner led all rushers with 105 yards on 18 carries. … Peterlin finished with a team-high 79 yards rushing on 18 carries.