Udinski, North Penn hold off West Catholic for 1st win

CHESTER >> Holding a nine-point lead and facing a 4th-and-8 from North Penn own 39, Knights coach Dick Beck saw the chance to go into his team’s bag of tricks and pull out a fake punt.

“Just thought it would be open. Looked like it was going to be open, so I figured we’d go for it,” he said. “If we didn’t get it, we can play defense.”

North Penn did not have to give up the ball thanks to Nick Isabella rumbling to the right for a 14-yard gain. Five plays later, Isabella powered into the end zone from a yard out to put the Knights up 15 on West Catholic early in the fourth quarter.

The Burrs kept coming, cutting the deficit to 33-24 with 6:51 remaining, but North Penn put things out of reach when Nyfease West scored from 12 yards out more than four minutes later.

It was not the sharpest performance – plenty of penalties, a few missed opportunities – but North Penn came out of Widener University’s Quick Stadium with a 40-24 win, its first of 2015.

“Happy with the win, I’m not happy with the mistakes,” Beck said. “Too many big plays, too many mental breakdowns. Look, (Jameer Bryson) is a really good player, (Craig Jones is) very elusive. Those guys are tough, you get them in the open field, our guys aren’t running and they make the play. Give them some credit.”

Quarterback Reece Udinski threw three touchdown passes – two going to Ricky Johns – and finished with 254 yards passing as North Penn (1-1) bounced back from a Week 1 loss to La Salle.

“I thought the (offensive) line really came off the ball, obviously Nyfease ran well, I thought Isabella ran well,” Beck said. “I thought our quarterback when we had guys open was throwing them strikes and had a big game for us.”

Johns hauled in four passes for 102 yards while West ran for 112 yards on 14 carries.

“I thought Ricky maybe had his best game of his career,” Beck said.

North Penn never trailed after taking a 7-6 lead when Udinski hit a wide-open Nick Vasger for a 29-yard touchdown at 3:459 in the first quarter. West Catholic (1-1), however, kept things close thanks to its air attack and special teams.

Burrs quarterback Joshua Evans threw for 258 yards and three touchdowns, connecting with Bryson three times for 102 yards and a score – an 82-yard TD strike for the game’s first six points. Amadou Barry had four catches for 96 yards and two touchdowns.

Barry’s 39-yard touchdown grab pulled West Catholic within 14-12 with 2:45 left in the first half. North Penn answered on its next drive, as Justin Ostopowicz crossed the goal line for 26 yards out at 1:36.

The Knights went into the half up 21-12, but had chances for a larger advantage at the break. Udinski was intercepted by Ahmad Kent in the end zone, while drive that started at the Burr 23 after Owen Thomas picked Evans ended in a turnover on downs.

Those missed chances seemed like it would hurt NP on the opening kickoff of the third quarter. Jones fumbled the ball, recovered it then raced through the Knight coverage for a 75-yard touchdown return.

But North Penn needed just five plays to answer – Johns made a tough grab with a defender on him for a 21-yard touchdown, giving the Knights a 27-18 lead at 9:38 in the third

“Just had to beat my guy outside, make a play,” Johns said. “Quarterback put it on the money.”

West Catholic drove down the North Penn 7 on the next series, but on 4th and Goal, Evan’s pass was incomplete.

Getting the ball back, the Knights advanced it to the 40, before two holding calls and a false start had them staring at a 3rd-and-30. Udinski connected with West for 22 yards, setting up a 4th-and-8, which NP converted thanks to Isabella fake punt run. Isabella then capped the drive with a 1-yard score on the first play of the first quarter.

Things for the Knights appeared secure after West Catholic turned the ball over on downs at its own 43, but the Burrs forced a fumble and took advantage of the takeaway as Evans found Barry behind the defense for a 24 yard touchdown at 6:51.

Its lead down to 33-24, North Penn sealed things on the ground, running on all eight plays of a 61-yard drive. Six handoffs went to West, the last a 12-yard run for six that made it 40-24 with 2:14 left.

West Catholic grabbed a 6-0 in a big way in the first quarter, as Evans hit a streaking Bryson for an 82-yard touchdown at 7:37.

Up 7-6 after a quarter, North Penn went up 14-6 at 5:43 in the second as Johns stayed inbounds after hauling in an Udinski pass then raced down the sidelines for a 28-yard touchdown.

“Just caught the ball and made a play. Nothing much I can say,” Johns said.

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