Kinnard helps Penncrest taste sweet revenge against Harriton

UPPER PROVIDENCE >> Penncrest came into Thursday night’s Central League matchup against Harriton with a goal to avenge last season’s 32-27 loss to the Rams that pained the Lions throughout the offseason.

It was Harriton’s only win of the season.

The Lions started slow but eventually took charge in the second and third quarters and rolled to 42-0 win that was never in doubt.

“Everyone who was here last year definitely remembers that loss,” running back Ryan Kinnard said. “So we had a little vengeance.”

Kinnard, a senior, had a memorable night, rushing 19 times for 140 yards and four touchdowns.

“I just kept running my heart out,” Kinnard said. “My line did an outstanding job for me opening up the holes. And I just kept running.”

The Lions took a 7-0 lead on their first drive that ended with a six-yard run by Kinnard. The home team seemed in control, holding the Rams offense to consecutive three-and-outs.

But the Lions fumbled on their second drive, giving Harriton good field position. The Rams moved the ball to the Lions 24 before the drive stalled.

Penncrest failed to move the ball on the next drive and punted. It got worse, as later in the quarter, a penalty wiped out a 75-yard touchdown run by Zack Kaut.

It was about that time that offensive tackle James George and a few other senior leaders decided to take ownership.

“We started off slow,” said George, who is listed at 6-3, 280 pounds. “We started off sloppy with the penalties. … I just got the team together with the other two captains, Zane Horne and Shane Jones, and we told our team to buckle down and get it done, and that’s what we did.”

The Lions attempted just one pass. Behind an offensive line that included George, Jake Buchanan, JD Smith, Mike Wilson, Brian Dewar and Mateos Ghebre, Penncrest rushed for 332 yards on 43 carries and six TDs.

Penncrest coach Rick Stroup admitted the sting from losing to Harriton last year was still fresh, so there was no taking the Rams lightly.

“They beat us last year,” Stroup said. “We were up, they came back and won. Their quarterback (Patrick Stewart) is a talented kid. I know they lost some kids, but we needed to play well and we did.”

One major factor was the size advantage at the line of scrimmage. Stewart, who completed 9 of 23 passes for 56 yards, had trouble all night getting anything going because of the Penncrest pressure.

Harriton coach Justin Mellor talked about how his smallish line played with heart but could not keep up with Penncrest’s size.

“Their guys filled out their shirts a lot better than our guys,” Mellor said. “We’re a really, really young team. We play a lot of freshmen and a lot of sophomores. Today it was big people blocking little people.”

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