Penalty negates late TD, North Penn falls to Downingtown East 28-24

DOWNINGTOWN >> When Ricky Johns caught Reece Udinski’s seven yard pass in the end zone on fourth down, it appeared the North Penn football team had come to Kottmeyer Stadium and pulled out a last-second victory.

But the Knights’ elation quickly transferred over to Downingtown East, as a penalty wiped out the go-ahead score.

“It was the right call. We weren’t set up,” North Penn coach Dick Beck said. “I mean, it’s our fault. This is what we do. We make more mental errors. We’ve got to cut out the mental errors.”

With another chance five yards further from the goal line, the Knights could not replicate the result of the previous play. Instead, Udinski’s throw was intercepted by Cary Angeline and the host Cougars held on for a 28-24 victory Friday night.

“We’re a little bit disappointed, but we know we have to learn from mistakes. We made a lot of mistakes tonight,” North Penn’s Nyfease West said. “We can’t make too many mistakes against such a good team like that. Ultimately, they’re a really good team, we tried to fight with them, the mistakes killed us tonight.”

In a contest that felt more like a District 1 playoff game than a Week 3 non-league matchup, North Penn (1-2) jumped out to a 14-0 lead and was up 21-14 before East (3-0) used consecutive touchdown drives in the third quarter to take the lead for good.

“I think on offense, we couldn’t get a drive going,” West said. “Jumping offsides and pushing us back to 3rd-and-15, 2nd-and-15, we just couldn’t recover from that until we started getting pressured at the end.”

The Knights pulled within four on Brett Bealer’s 32-yard field at 1:16 in the third then gave themselves a chance at the win by forcing the Cougars to turn the ball over on down at the NP 25 with 2:43 remaining.

Udinski kept the drive alive with a five-yard run on 4th-and-2 from the East 42 then two plays later hit Keith Earle for a 26-yard gain down to the 11. Udinski threw incomplete on 4th-and-13 from the 14, but pass interference in the end zone gave the Knights another shot.  That was the Johns catch, which was nixed due to an illegal shift.

“Honestly, I thought we were going to win it all,” West said. “I was excited until that final call at the end, that kind of just crushed us really. We’ll learn from it and we’re going to come back. We’re not going to take that lightly.”

On North Penn’s third fourth-down try, Angeline, a 6-7 235 senior committed to Southern Cal, sealed the East win.

West ran 18 times for a game-high 192 yards and a touchdown while Justin Ostopowicz had 67 yards on seven carries and caught three passes for 30 yards. Udinski was 9-of-23 passing for 114 yards.

“I thought our kids played really tough,” Beck said. “I thought they played a great game, but we make so many mental errors that it costs us.”

Jack Kincade led Downingtown East with 123 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. Cougars quarterback Saunders Healy completed his five nine passes and finished 10-for-13 for 106 yards and two scores.

North Penn is on the road again as it starts Suburban One League National Conference play Friday at Pennridge. Downingtown East opens its Ches-Mont National Division slate at Avon Grove Friday.

Up seven, North Penn received the kickoff to start the third quarter, but had to punt after going three-and-out.  On 4th-and-1 at the Knight 30, Healy connected with Noah Hahn for 29 yards and two plays later Healy scored on a QB sneak to tie the game 21-21 at 7:57.

After forcing another North Penn punt, the Cougars grabbed a 28-21 lead as Kincade capped off an eight-play, 76 yard drive by dashing to the end zone on a 25-yard run at 3:37 in the third.

“I thought maybe we got back in our heels a little bit defensively in the second half,” Beck said. “But in the fourth quarter, we started being a little more aggressive and I think we started stopping them a little bit.”

West started the Knights’ next series with a 53-yard run down the East 27. After being sacked, Udinski found Ostopowicz for 25 yards, setting up a 1st-and-Goal at the eight. But a run for a one-yard loss, a false start and two incompletions had North Penn settling for Bealer’s 32-yard field goal and cutting the margin to 28-24.

On 4th-and-2 from its own 44 in the fourth, North Penn went for it and came up a yard short, giving Downingtown East the ball with 5:53 left.

Healy ran for 17 yards on and 3rd-and-16, but the Cougars gave the Knights a final chance at a comeback when they only collected a yard on 4th-and-2 from the NP 26.

Downingtown East fumbled on the game’s opening kickoff, with North Penn recovering at the Cougar 43. Nick Isabella ended the eight-play drive by diving over the goal line for a one yard touchdown at 8:49 in the first quarter.

The Knights doubled their advantage after East fumbled trying to convert on fourth down. Ostopowicz’s 52-yard run put North Penn on the Cougars’ three and two plays later Udinski ran around the right side of the line for a one-yard score at 5:51.

Downingtown East made it 14-7 with 1:08 left in the quarter as Jake Hanford took a screen pass from Healy to the end zone from 10 yards out.

North Penn regained the 14-point advantage on its next possession, West breaking away on fourth down for a 47-yard touchdown run at 10:05 in the second quarter. The Cougars, however, were within 21-14 at the half thanks to Angeline hauling in a five-yard TD pass from Healy at 7:54.

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