West Chester Henderson races past North Penn in District 1-AAAA first-round

WEST CHESTER — Costly mistakes piled up in a frustrating third quarter for North Penn Friday night, and West Chester Henderson refused to let the Knights recover.

A memorable season for NP came to an end on a cold night at Henderson, as the Knights fell 40-13 in the opening round of the District One Class AAAA Playoffs.

“When it rained, it poured,’ Knights coach Dick Beck said. “We’ll remember this as a great season. It just wasn’t a great end.’

North Penn quarterback Spencer Jones scored on a 10-yard run to tie the game 13-13 with 6 minutes and 11 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The extra-point attempt by Matt Ammendola sailed wide, but the Knights — thanks to an 11-play drive to start the third quarter, capped by the TD by Jones — were right back in the contest.

However, the Warriors’ running attack soon regained control.

On its ensuing possession, Henderson drove it 80 yards in seven plays, with running back Tre Green breaking free for his longest run of the night — 29 yards — to key the drive.

Green’s 23-yard run climaxed the drive, putting eighth-seeded Henderson up 20-13 with 3:10 left in the third quarter.

And then things got worse for the ninth-seeded Knights.

After going three-and-out, the Knights tried to punt from their own 31, but Ammendola — pressed into punting duty due to an injury to starting punter Anthony Cameron — bobbled the snap and the Henderson special teams swarmed in. C.J. Preston picked up the fumble and raced 19 yards for a score, extending the Warrior led to 27-13 with 1:26 to go in the third.

North Penn’s troubles were not over.

On the ensuing kickoff, Justin Ostopowicz fumbled on the return, and again Henderson was able to recover, giving the Warriors possession at the NP 36.

The Knights’ defense held firm, but on 4th-and-6 at the 21, Green — who rushed for 129 yards and two scores — threw the best pass of the night, hitting Wes Smith in the back of the end zone to pretty much put the game out of the reach for the Knights, making it 33-13 with 9:29 left in the contest.

A two-yard sneak by quarterback Matt DiNacci capped the scoring.

“They outplayed us tonight and we made too many mistakes,’ said West, who rushed for 57 yards and a score. “I think that our team still had heart and we played with pride out there. Unfortunately, they beat us tonight.’

A five-yard touchdown run by West and the extra point by Ammendola gave the Knights a 7-6 lead with 9:04 to play in the second quarter.

But then Henderson had the ball for almost the entire remainder of the first half. An epic 17-play drive was capped off by five-yard touchdown run by Green, and — with an earlier 37-yard score by DiNacci — the Warriors were in front 13-7 at the half.

North Penn tied things up in the third, but a strong opponent, coupled with too many costly mistakes, was too much for NP to overcome. A season in which the Knights battled back to gain a share of the rugged Suburban One League National Conference came to a tough end at Henderson.

“It hurts,’ said defensive back Mike Liddy, who had an interception in the second quarter for the Knights. “No one expected us to win the league and we did — we overcame a lot. I love playing for this team. No regrets. Henderson played a heck of a game and they deserve it.’

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