FAIRLESS HILLS – Any team that enters a postseason tournament with a guy like Charles Snorweah carrying the football has got to be considered a threat to go far in the postseason.
Last Friday night, after Snorweah rushed for 439 yards and seven touchdowns, Pennsbury was all that and more. Still, the No. 2 seeded Falcons needed every point tallied by the senior tailback headed to Rutgers and a late game kick return for a touchdown by Rob Daly to hold onto a 63-55 District 1-AAAA playoff win over the Whippets.
While one part of Pennsbury’s defense was working, the other was not. When Downingtown tried to run the ball, the Falcon ‘ D’ was right there to make the stop. Fifty rushing attempts by the Whippets yielded just 149 yards.
D-West senior quarterback Tyler McNulty kept the Whippets in the game all night, however, throwing for 405 yards and five touchdowns in his last varsity game. Both teams scored on their first play from scrimmage with McNulty answering a 55-yard opening TD run by Snorweah with a 75-yard scoring strike to senior Jimmy DiSantis.
“They tried to run but our team takes pride in stopping the run so they had to sling the ball,’ said senior strong safety Victor Delgado, who did not play because of injury.
“They found gaps right over the top of the linebackers and underneath the safeties.’
While Pennsbury padded its lead to 14 points in the first half on a 66-yard scoring scamper by Snorweah and a 1-yard TD plunge by QB Mike Alley, D-West managed to keep it close with a 1-yard TD plunge of its own by Mike Riddick with 35 seconds left in the second quarter.
Pennsbury led 42-21 after three periods before McNulty rallied the Whippets again, guiding back-to-back scoring drives and hitting Ben Carbone for a 10-yard touchdown that made it 42-35 with 8:14 remaining.
After a 16-yard scoring run by Snorweah, McNulty found Riddick in the flat for a seven-yard TD pass that cut the deficit to 49-41 with 5:16 to play. When Snorweah answered with a 41-yard scoring run, some may have thought the game was over but McNulty had other ideas. After converting on a pair of fourth downs, he kept the ball himself for a 6-yard TD run that drew Downingtown back within 56-48 with 1:02 remaining.
It wasn’t until Daly’s kick return for a 49-yard touchdown on the Whippets’ ensuing onside kick that the outcome was no longer in question.
This week gets no easier for Pennsbury as the Falcons must face Central League runner-up and No. 7 seed Garnet Valley. The 9-2 Jaguars possess a run-first offense that features RB Derrick West whose 105 first-half rushing yards staked GV to a 21-7 halftime lead on its way to a 35-15 win over 10th-seeded CB South in last week’s opening round.
Pennsbury’s defense has got to find a way to stop West in the Jags’ ground attack. In the district opener, he carried the ball 33 times for 158 yards and four touchdowns.
Delgado believes his team is up to the task. Delgado, along with linebacker Daulton Hose and defensive end Joe Mauer were out with injuries in the last game so they and the rest of the defense are anxious to get back out on the field and play Falcon defense — the one that limited 10 regular season foes to an average of just 8.9 points-per-game.
“After the last game when they scored a lot of points, we really want to come out in this game and show that that was a one-time thing and that it won’t happen again,’ said Delgado.
After losing to Pennridge 28-27 two years ago on a missed extra point and 31-21 last year to North Penn, Pennsbury is looking to advance beyond the quarterfinal round this season.
Trailing the Rams by a touchdown two years ago at the half, the Falcons let RB Mike Class escape for a 69-yard touchdown and also allowed a 25-yard aerial TD to Kyle Bigam after the break.
Last year, Pennsbury had no answer for Knights RB Nyfease West, who carved the defense up for 176 yards on 23 carries. When the Falcons stopped North Penn from rushing the ball, QB Austin Shearer (7-for-8, 3 TDs) was there with a pass completion to help move the chains.
“We’re in the same position this year as we were the last two years and we don’t wanna make the same mistakes that we did in the past,’ said Snorweah.
“We want to stay humbled and focused and come out and attack this game the way we would any other game.’
With both teams featuring solid rushing attacks, look for a battle that takes place primarily on the ground. Between Pennsbury QB Mike Alley and Jags signal-caller Steve Flanagan, the two threw the ball just six times in the opener, combined.
In the win over D-West, Snorweah registered touchdown runs of 66, 64, 55, 41, 16, 11 and three yards, carving up the Whippet defense and continually keeping the visitors’ relentless upset bid at arm’s length. His 439 yards are tied for eighth all-time in District 1 history.
As a team co-captain, Snorweah says it’s his job to keep the Falcons focused.
“Once we reach the playoffs, every team is going to play at a high level whether they’re the last seed or the No. 1 seed,’ he said.
“You have to take every game like it’s a district championship or a state championship because any game can be your last.’
While Garnet Valley relies heavily on West, Pennsbury features a three-headed ground assault in Snorweah, Delgado and senior tailback Raheem Thompson.
It all starts up front with the line, says Delgado. Look for O-linemen Maurice Stukes, Austin O’Neil, Mason Houriet, Chris Rupprecht and Vinnie Ratamoss to create plenty of running room for the Falcons.
“They’re out there blocking for us,’ said Snorweah. “We just have to find the hole and do our job and get into the secondary.’
Lining up in the front for Pennsbury defensively are Asante Robb, Joe Mauer, Nick Paragano, Jeremiah Wells and Kevin James. Injuries that prevented Delgado, Hose and Mauer from playing in the D-1 opener have healed so the Falcons are in better shape physically for Friday night’s match with the Jaguars.
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