LANHGORNE, Pa. >> Not only did the Pennsbury High football team get big-time revenge against Neshaminy Friday night, but it did it the old-fashioned Pennsbury way.
Returning to its roots behind its huge offensive line, Pennsbury stunned the bewildered Neshaminy defensive coaches with its trademark Ground and Pound power running game and the result was a 36-17 rout of the Redskins on Heartbreak Ridge
With this victory in front of a full house in the quarterfinal round of the PIAA District 1 Class 6A playoffs, Pennsbury advanced into the semifinals next Friday night. The Falcons will travel to Coatesville, which beat Downingtown East for the second time in three weeks, this time by the score of 61-42.
It was no secret a frustrated Pennsbury team walked off the field thinking it was the better team following its one-point, last-second loss to Neshaminy two weeks ago.
This time around Pennsbury (10-2) went out and proved it.
It all started with the insertion of middle linebacker Andrew Basalyga at fullback to compliment speed back Nasaa Robbins in the backfield.
This strategy by coach Dan McShane worked to perfection as both ran for two touchdowns against the reeling Redskins (10-2).
By the time the game was over, Basalyga ran over Neshaminy for 146 yards on 14 carries after being used sparingly in the backfield for the first 11 games of the season. Robbins, meanwhile, piled up 106 yards on 18 carries.
While the game ended as a rout, it wasn’t that way for much of the evening against a Neshaminy squad that just refused this year to go away until the final stages of Friday night’s fourth quarter.
Behind the hard running of Basalyga, Pennsbury struck right away on its first possession with a 76-yard drive culminated by a 10-yard keeper by senior quarterback Zach Demarchis.
After goint three-and-out on its first chance, Neshaminy struck right back with an 82-yard drive of its own that ended with a 16-yard run by Joel Stills.
After Pennsbury scored its second touchdown of the first quarter on a 15-yard burst by Robbins up the middle, Neshaminy again had the answer with a 55-yard TD run by Stills, who ran for 120 yards in the first half before finishing with 147 for the game.
With its defense holding Pennsbury on three straight possessions, Neshaminy was also able to cut the Pennsbury lead to 16-15 right before the half on a 37-yard field goal by Matt Leonhauser.
It looked like Neshaminy had the momentum and it was anybody’s game at this point, but the second half was a much different story as Pennsbury came out and scored three straight touchdowns.
The first TD was a 40-yard explosion up the middle by Robbins, who often had clear sailing once he got through Neshaminy’s defensive line. Basalyga later scored on two short runs to send the Neshaminy fans and band headed to the exit early.
The amazing thing is if you said Demarchis would be held to just 28 yards passing and 73 yards rushing you’d think Pennsbury would have been in big trouble. But with Neshaminy protecting its flanks, it left itself vulnerable up the middle.
Neshaminy quarterback Brody McAndrew was also once again constantly harassed by the Pennsbury rush, especially in the second half when Pennsbury dialed up repeated blitzes. McAndrew finished 11-for-24 for 72 yards.
Unlike the first game when it was Pennsbury that had the turnovers, this time around it was Neshaminy making the mistakes. Neshaminy fumbled the ball six times with Pennsbury recovering three of them.
Neshaminy can always look back on this season with pride after winning the Suburban One National League title, but it was Pennsbury that prevailed in the game that counted most.
Pennsbury (10-2) 14 2 13 7 — 36
Neshaminy (10-2) 6 9 0 2 — 17
P — Demarchis 10 run (Knop kick()
N — Stills 16 run (kick failed)
P – Robbins 15 run (Knop kick)
N – Stills 55 run (kick blocked)
P — Safety, punt snap out of end zone
N — Leonhauser 37 field goal
P — Robbins 40 run (Knop kick)
P – Basaylga 2 run (kick blocked)
P — Basalyga 1 run (Knop kick)
N — Punt snap out of end zone