Pennridge rallies in 2nd half to beat CB South

EAST ROCKHILL >> Devon Balmer saw nothing but green in front of him.

Pennridge’s senior quarterback took off running, cut left, sprinted all the way in and lunged his way over the goal line
for a 37-yard score that put Pennridge in front for good midway through the third quarter Friday night against rival
Central Bucks South.

“It was pretty crazy. The dive got people pretty excited,” Balmer said. “I was happy that could happen. It got the crowd a little rowdy, and it just helped us take control and get momentum.”

Pennridge’s defense would shut out the Titans in the second half and the Rams added a score in the fourth to pull away to a 28-17 victory over South in a Suburban One League National Conference game at packed Helman Field.

The win keeps playoff hopes alive for the Rams, who improved to 5-3 overall and 3-2 in the conference.

“It was a great second half,” Pennridge coach Jeff Hollenbach said. “I really am proud of the kids. For them to come back against a very good CB South team is very impressive in my mind.

“The challenge at halftime was really just for the seniors. We made a couple adjustments, but really the challenge was ‘you can not lose on Senior Night as a senior.'”

Trailing 17-7 at the half, Balmer directed the comeback, hitting Connor Hansen for a 28-yard touchdown strike that brought the Rams within 17-14.

Following Balmer’s touchdown run, the Rams forced a turnover when South drove it down inside the 10, and then Pennridge had a 16-play, 90-yard drive to eat up most of the fourth, a drive capped by Judens Desrosiers’ 13-yard touchdown run.

A drive telling of Pennridge’s second-half determination, the Rams would grind out five first downs, converted three times on third down and once on fourth, and wore the clock all the way down to 1:55.

On 4th-and-1 at the 42, Balmer and the line pushed forward. The Rams didn’t gain a yard. They gained 12. Balmer kept churning his legs, the pile kept moving and moving, and Pennridge — amidst the roar of the crowd — had a first down at the South 30.

Four plays later, Desrosiers took it in and the Senior Night celebration could soon begin.

“I wanna say that was our best drive of the season,” Hollenbach said.

Balmer finished with two touchdown passes and a touchdown run in the victory, completing seven of 12 passes for 85 yards and running for 95 more.

“We went into the locker room at halftime knowing we didn’t come out playing the way we wanted to,” he said. “A lot of people were saying we’re a second-half team, so we wanted to come out and prove it.”

After forcing a three-and-out by South to start the game, Pennridge opened the scoring on its first offensive series of
the night.

Balmer took the snap, scrambled around to buy time, then launched a perfect strike to a wide open Dan Hockman in the end zone for a 7-0 Ram lead.

The scoring pass capped a sustained, 10-play drive by the Rams, putting them in control early with 5:16 to play in the
first quarter.

But after a punt by each team, South tied the game, with one play.

On 1st-and-10 from the Titan 19, South quarterback Sam Thompson hit wide receiver Stephen Iannuzzi on a deep crossing pattern, and Iannuzzi raced away to an 81-yard score that evened things at seven apiece.

South dominated the second quarter, pulling ahead on a battering, eight-yard run by Nate Norris, in which he broke a pair of tackles to get into the end zone and put the Titans in front, 14-7.

A 34-yard field goal by Iannuzzi pushed South’s lead to 17-7 at the break, but back-to-back scores by Pennridge, including the run by Balmer, tilted control to the Rams for good.

“Devon just kind of took the game over at times,” Hollenbach said. “His scrambling ability really came out tonight.”

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