Pennridge hopes for districts after pounding Bensalem

BENSALEM >> It was simple for the Pennridge football team Friday night.

Take care of its business against host Bensalem and then hope the numbers worked in the Rams’ favor to get them into the District 1-AAAA playoffs.

Pennridge had no problem with the first part. After three weeks of sluggish play in the first half, the Rams stormed out the gate against the winless Owls, rolling to a 31-0 halftime lead en route to a 51-26 Suburban One League National Conference victory.

“It’s a good win for us,” Pennridge senior center/defensive end Luke Basquill said. “We have to wait and see what happens – playoffs – but we got the job done.”

Judens Desrosiers and Nick Hirsch each ran for two touchdowns as Pennridge (7-3, 5-2) won its third straight, yet the Rams still maybe on the outside looking in at the postseason. The district’s preeminent power rankings guru, Kyle Berger of WNPV 1440 AM, has the Rams at 17th, just missing the 16-team 4A field.

“I really am proud, the 7-3 and I guess 5-2 in this conference is really, really good stuff. So I’m really proud of that,” Pennridge coach Jeff Hollenbach said. “This is the third year in a row we’re finishing 7-3. So, it’s like two years ago we didn’t make it and it came down to the (Council) Rock game. Last year we did make, this year it sounds like we’re not going to make it.”

After scoring just 13 first-half points the last three weeks, Pennridge collected points on all five of its first-half drives against the Owls (0-10, 0-7), finding the end zone on the last four.

“I’m really pleased with the way things happened tonight,” Hollenbach said. “We really struggled on first half, just execution the past number of weeks. We’re down the last three weeks at halftime. And so, to be up 31-0 at halftime was our goal. And we got a lot of kids in here which was great. But I’m really pleased with the effort.”

The Rams ran for 257 yards while quarterback Devon Balmer threw for 91 yards on 4-of-5 passing in eclipsing the 50-point mark for the second time in 2015 – doing it previously in the 55-29 season-opening win over Hatboro-Horsham.

“Senior year, you want to make the playoffs, you want to make a run, cause we know we can compete with anyone. We showed that” Basquill said. “Hopefully, it works out for us, but it’s going to be tough. We just got to finish strong.”

If the Rams do not make districts, Hollenbach says they have a game with Ridley scheduled for Friday. Pennridge also hosts Quakertown on Thanksgiving.

Bensalem quarterback Kenny O’Connell had three touchdowns after halftime and finished 8-of-12 passing for 142 yards. Gerald Whea ran eight times for 75 yards and a TD and caught three passes for 57 yards and another score.

“I’m real impressed with this team, I really am,” said Hollenbach of Bensalem. “They’re coming out of the huddle, they’re hustling, they’re not giving up. And for a team to a winless season the way they did here, I’m really impressed with that, shows a lot of character.”

Pennridge grabbed a 3-0 lead at 9:03 in the first quarter as Matt Mauer connected on a 42-yard field goal.

A Bensalem fumble set the Rams up on the Owls’ 21 and five plays later Desrosiers scored on a five-yard run for a 10-0 lead at 6:29. After forcing a three-and-out, Pennridge made it 17-0 at 2:51 when Hirsch rumbled 28 yards to the end zone.

“Up front, we’re working hard to open up holes and our backs are running hard,” Basquill said. “Turned out well tonight, so we’re happy.”

Mark Weichel’s interception set the Rams up at the own 48 with the visitors needed nine plays to push their advantage to 24-0 on Hirsch’s two-yard TD run at 5:05 in the second quarter.

Devon Balmer put Pennridge up 31-0 with just 25 seconds left in the half with his 17-yard touchdown run, the senior quarterback keeping his legs moving the last few yard to move a pile across the goal line.

“We had a good week of practice, so I think we found out what we needed to do to have a good first half,” Basquill said. “It’s good to have a complete game and not come out slow.”

Bensalem finally broke thanks to recovering a Ram fumble, with O’Connell’s fourth-down heave caught in a crowd by Malcolm Carey for a 24-yard touchdown at 6:20 in the third quarter.

Pennridge answered quickly. Balmer hit Iziah Lewis for 46 yard completion and on the next play Desrosiers scored on a two-yard run at 4:19.

O’Connell found Jordan Duncan-Murphy for a 25-yard TD with one seconds left in the third to go into the fourth down 38-14.

Ryan Gordon’s one-yard touchdown run made it 45-14 with 11:29 left, but O’Connell collected his third TD pass – connecting with Whea for 36 yards – to make it 45-20.

Pennridge’s seventh touchdown came on a Josh Pinkney five-yard run at 3:18, while Whea’s 21-yard TD run capped the scoring with 61 seconds on the clock.


Player Comp Att Pass Yds Pass TD Int. Rush Att. Rush Yds Rush TD Rec Rec Yds Rec. TD Sacks Def. Int XPM XPA FGM FGA
Devon Balmer4591007231000000000
Ryan Gordon000003191000000000
Mark Weichel000001460000000000
Iziah Lewis000000001460000000
Connor Hansen000003330000000000
Jackson Henry000003190000000000
Nick Hirsch000009422000000000


Player Comp Att Pass Yds Pass TD Int. Rush Att. Rush Yds Rush TD Rec Rec Yds Rec. TD Sacks Def. Int XPM XPA FGM FGA
Matt Haffner00000110000000000
Gerald Whea0000087513571000000
Kenny O’Connell8121423110310000000000
Jonathan Bennett000001110000000000
Thomas Peagler0000012580000000000
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