ABINGTON — Needless to say both the Abington and Cheltenham football teams were anxious to get on to the field to play their annual Thanksgiving Day matchup, but because bad weather the game was delayed an extra 24 hours.
For Abington its last game was played on Halloween night and for Cheltenham just a week later on Nov. 7, so what’s an extra day rest?
“We were upset that the game got cancelled,’ Abington wide receiver and defensive back Jordan Neely said. “We just wanted to play so bad. Some of our players couldn’t make it today and some of our family members couldn’t make it today, so we were just amped up.’
Abington came out of the blocks the way it wanted and Neely scored a touchdown on both offense and defense in the second quarter as the Ghost shut out the visiting Panthers 21-0 at Schwarzman Stadium.
After Cheltenham recovered an onside kick and turned the ball over as quarterback Brendan Mack threw a backwards lateral to running back Greg Morris, Abington was set up just beyond mid field. On the Ghosts’ first offensive play, Juawine Sowell darted 33 yards setting Abington up deep in Cheltenham territory. Mike Brooks capped the 49 yard drive with a 12-yard touchdown.
“It always helps (to score first) especially on the first series there, to go up 6-0,’ Abington coach Tim Sorber said.
Unfortunately, Sowell would leave the game at halftime with a pulled hamstring. The absence of Sowell was felt more on the defensive side than offense as Brooks stepped in for Sowell running for a game high 28 carries for 135 yards.
“He had a lot of important runs to move the sticks (and) important runs to get us out of bad field position,’ said Sorber of Brooks.
The time off and sloppy field conditions definitely seemed to favor the defense as the 6-0 score held until the fourth quarter. With the Panthers on the move to start the fourth, Abington came up with its biggest defensive and offensive series of the game.
Facing a 1st-and-Goal from the Ghosts’ 10-yard line, Cheltenham cut the distance in half on second down as Antonio Mumford ran the ball down to the five. The Panthers opted to go to the air on third and fourth down. Mack had an open Matt Tuszl but the pass eluded him and Cheltenham turned the ball over on downs.
Abington took the ball off the Panther turnover and drove 95 yards in six plays highlighted by a 44-yard Dave Kretschman run then a 40-yard Kretschman to Neely touchdown, putting the Ghosts up by two scores.
“Yeah, that was it,’ Cheltenham coach Joe Gro said. “We dropped a pass in the end zone that could have given us an opportunity to take the lead. I think that took a lot out of us.’
Neely put the finishing touches on the win as the next Cheltenham possession, intercepted a Mack pass and taking it back 41 yards for a touchdown — his second touchdown and interception of the day.
“The quarterback, he has a nice arm, they had a lot of drops, but I just played it perfectly,’ said Neely of the interception. “It just fell into my hands and I caught it.’
After losing to Cheltenham last year on a two-point conversion late in the game, the Ghosts reclaim the Turkey Day title from their crosstown rivals in convincing fashion.
“We just had to find our identity,’ said Neely said of the season. “We were 5-5 and we lost against Cheltenham last year so we just didn’t want to be the first team since 2006 to have a losing record.’