First half dooms Downingtown East in district quarterfinal loss

DOWNINGTOWN >> A rough thing happened to the Downingtown East football team on its way to a district championship. The undefeated and top-ranked Cougars ran into an old nemesis in big, ba North Penn on Friday night at Kottmeyer Stadium in the District 1 Class AAAA quarterfinals.
The ninth seeded Knights controlled both lines of scrimmage, totaling 534 yards of offense — 302 on the ground — and scored all of their points in the first half as they ran Downingtown East out of the playoffs with a 27-14 triumph. The win puts North Penn (10-2) into the district quarterfinals next week against No. 13 Neshaminy, while the Cougars’ special season ends at 11-1, short of their goal of winning a district title.
Nyfaese West ran the football 33 times for 244 yards and a touchdown, while junior quarterback Reese Udinski threw for 233 yards and two scores.
“I have to give all the credit to my offensive line tonight,” West said. “They were opening up some big holes, and they started right from the opening kickoff. The difference between tonight and when we lost to them in Week three (28-24 on Sept. 18) was we did not make mistakes tonight. We really wanted to get these guys back, and now we look ahead to a good week of practice and get ready for Neshaminy.”
The Knights jumped on the Cougars early, taking the opening kickoff and putting together an impressive drive, capped off by a Nick Isabella 44-yard scamper for a 7-0 lead.
East went three-and-out, then the Knights struck again as Udinski hit Owen Thomas for a score and a 13-0 advantage.
After The Cougar offense booted down again, the Knights got a pretty 27 yard touchdown pass from Udinski to Owen Thomas for a 13-0 advantage after a missed extra point.
North Penn increased its lead to 20-0 early in the second period after Ethan Harris fumbled a punt. Three plays later, West strolled five yards around the left side for a 20-0 lead.
The Cougars received the offensive they were looking for when Jeremy Jennings hauled in a pass from Saunders Healy for a 61-yard TD, giving fans hope they could climb out from a hole as they did in their first-round game against Plymouth Whitemarsh.
However, late in the half, the Knights took advantage after a Drew Brennan punt traveled just 15 yards to set them up with great field position. Justin Ostopoweciz caught a nine-yard pass from Udisnki for a 27-7 lead that held into halftime.
North Penn was sloppy fumbling five times — losing three. They held the Cougars to 46 yards rushing and sacked Healy six time — four by defensive end Keith Earle.
Every time the Knights needed long yardage for a first down Udinski seemed to deliver, hitting Ricky Johns for seven catches for 170 yards and totaling 235 yards through the air for the night.
“I may have gotten too conservative after halftime and not thrown the ball enough,” North Penn coach Dick Beck said. “But we had the lead, and I did not want to make a mistake with the football. Our defense was playing very well and I thought we did a nice job shutting down number 6 (Cary Angeline).”
Downingtown East came out of the locker room cut the deficit to 27-14 with Jack Kincade’s pinball-style, eight-yard run with 8:01 left in the third.
After North Penn was stopped on a fourth-and-two play on a great tackle by Brody wilson, the East faithful at Kottmeyer Stadium came alive. Healy then hit Angeline over the middle, and the senior star dragged three defenders with him deep into Knights’ territory. But, West popped the ball loose and North Penn recovered at its own five, and the game stayed 27-14.
“That is a big play there,” Beck said. “I thought (cornerback) Dante Watson did a great job on the big guy all night.”
That would be all the scoring, and once again a Ches-Mont League team was ushered out of the playoffs by a Suburban One power.
Downingtown East coach Mike Matta was still looking for answers after the bitter loss.
“They controlled both lines of scrimmage tonight,” Matta said. “And I really don’t know what the difference was tonight compared to Week 3, but all season, these kids gave me everything.”

North Penn 27, Downingtown East 14
North Penn    13    14    0    0    —    27
Downingtown East    0    7    7    0    —    14
First Quarter
North Penn — Isabella 44 run (Beiler kick)
North Penn — Thomas 27 pass from Udinski (kick failed)
Second Quarter
North Penn — West 5 run (Johns pass)
Downingtown East — Jennings 61 pass from Healy (Brennan kick)
North Penn — Ostopowicz 9 pass from Udinski (kick failed)
Third Quarter
Downingtown East — Kincade 8 run (Brennan kick)
team statistics
    NP    DE
First downs    21    13
Rushes-yards    50-302    30-46
Passing    11-17-0    9-22-1
Passing yards    232    198
Total yards    534    244
Punts    1-32.0    6-40.5
Fumbles-lost    5-3    3-2
Penalties-yards    5-55    3-15

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