Penalties haunt Pennridge in OT loss to CB East

EAST ROCKHILL >> Sometimes, a team just can not get out of its own way.

Friday night, Pennridge just keep slamming its head off the proverbial desk in a 16-10 overtime loss to visiting CB East. The Rams were flagged for nine penalties, many of them thwarting drives or pushing the Rams out of scoring position.

“The penalties just killed our drives,” Rams coach Jeff Hollenbach said. “I’m not impartial, but I thought a few were questionable. They certainly hurt us, personal fouls hurt us a couple of times. We couldn’t take it down and execute and run it down their throat in overtime.”

The contest saw a pair of teams coming off blowout wins in Week 1 enter feeling confident but also having a few questions to answer. There were plenty of other similarities, with each boasting a senior quarterback, power running games and a tough defense.

East took the first kickoff and moved the ball until a penalty forced them to punt. The Rams capitalized by marching themselves down the field, but got into a similar predicament when they faced a 3rd-and-17 from the East 30.

Somehow, quarterback Devon Balmer was able to slip loose and uncorked an arc to Ryan Cuthbert, who hauled in the 30-yard score.

East replied in kind behind the pads of quarterback Jack Lamb. Lamb carried the ball six times for 38 yards on the drive, bulldozing his way through a gangup on the goal line for the tying score early in the second quarter.

“We were here for their home game last week, it was a packed house and we knew it would be tonight,” CB East coach John Donnelly said. “our guys fed off that, we had a great crowd, there’s nothing better than that.”

Other than the two scoring drives, it was a game of mistakes, missed chances and flags in the first half. The squads drew a combined 10 flags in the first half, with the Rams getting tagged six times.

Pennridge dropped two surefire interceptions, while East had receivers drop three balls and recovered one of its own fumbles on a short pass. Balmer had the half’s other highlight play when he reversed field for a 19-yard pickup and got 15 more when he was thrown out of bounds by his facemask.

Pennridge looked to have something to start the second half when Balmer hit on a bomb to Cuthbert, only to have it called back on a hold assesed to Pennridge’s fullback, who had faked a run on the play. The Rams were forced to punt and it allowed East to take over.

The Patriots went down the field, again led by Lamb, and went ahead on a Barney Amor 29-yard field goal. Even with all the setbacks, the Rams kept coming.

“We kept moving the ball and I had a lot of confidence we were going to be able to cap this thing off,” Hollenbach said. “A couple times we’d come down here and like that it’s 2nd-and-30 or something like that.”

Pennridge tied it back up on its ensuing drive, led by bruising fullback Nick Hirsch. Matt Mauer’s 28-yard field goal with 10:02 left was the last score of regulation as both defenses made a handful of plays to force OT.

East stacked up the line well in overtime and corner Myles King made a tremendous play to drag down Balmer for a loss on fourth down. After East took over, Lamb ran for five yards on first down, then Alex Gibson finished it off with a five-yard TD run.

“I’m proud of our kids and I’m always proud of our kids,” Hollenbach said. “They played really hard and there certainly was no quit.”

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