Pennsbury doesn’t mind playing the underdog

FAIRLESS HILLS – In every cloud, there’s a silver lining – or so they say.

In Pennsbury’s case, it’s true. When the Falcons lost their final regular season game to archrival Neshaminy, it stirred the beast in Pennsbury.

“It lit a fire under us,” stated senior quarterback Mike Alley. “We came out and we knew we had to be ready to play and that’s what we did.”

Defending district champions, the 15th-seeded Falcons opened District 1-AAAA tournament play with a win in overtime over No. 2 seed Downingtown West.

In an eventual nail-biting 35-28 triumph, Pennsbury totaled 331 yards rushing, with Alley leading the way with 130, fullback Chris Rupprecht added 108 and Daly registered 93 as the Falcons’ wing-T offense gave the Whippets fits.

While Alley plunged into the end zone from the two yard line to give Pennsbury a 28-21 lead with 10:25 to play in the fourth quarter, a fumble by senior RB Rob Daly at the 47 gave D-West a short field with which to work. The Whippets used that to their advantage when D-W all-purpose man Jake Barr tied things up at 28-all on an 11-yard TD run.

In overtime, Daly obtained a measure of redemption, setting Alley up at the one with a 9-yard gainer on first down. And while Ned Ibric’s backfield tackle of Barr for a 6-yard loss on the Whippets’ overtime possession was big, Alley says Daly saved the day on fourth down.

“Rob’s game-saving interception on fourth down in the end zone was big,” said Alley. “It brought the game home for us.”

For players like Alley, Daly and Rupprecht, there is no next year.

“This is our last year; there is no next year,” said Alley. “So we’re doing everything we can not to lose and keep winning.”

On Saturday night in enemy territory, Pennsbury must get past No. 10 Perkiomen Valley (10-1) in a District 1-AAAA quarterfinal matchup if it hopes to successfully defend its D-1 title. The Vikings are loaded with talent on offense starting with quarterback Stephen Sturm who has thrown for 2,840 yards in 11 games thus far on the season.

Sturm has a variety of targets at which to throw including leading receiver Justin Jaworski who has over 1,000 yards receiving (1,049) and leads PV with over 95 yards-per-game. Senior Aaron Morton (449 yds.) along with juniors David Williams (572 yds.) and Sean Owens (408) compliment Jaworski and the receiving corps nicely.

Senior Ronnie Arch is a proven commodity at running back, capable of reaching 100 yards in any game. In the Vikings season opening win over CR North, he carried the ball 13 times for 86 yards and a touchdown.

“I think we’re going to go into the game ready to play,” “We’re going to go out, punch them in the mouth and play the game.”

“I like the way we match up; I think our guys are real fast and physical. I think we’re going to get after them.”

After losing to Neshaminy, Pennsbury dropped a lot in the tournament seeding. Daly sees the Falcons using that to their advantage

“We definitely took the role of the underdog after that (Neshaminy) loss,” said Daly. “Coming in as an underdog – a 15 seed – we have to prove ourselves all over again but I thing we were able to do that against Downingtown.”

While Daly’s interception made sure of it, the play by Ibric made it all possible, said Rob.

“That definitely made it a lot harder for them and gave us the momentum after we scored. That first play set them back and once that happened, it swung everything in our favor.

“That alerted our linebackers and d-backs. We knew that a pass was going to come because they had to put it in the end zone.”

D-West quarterback Thomas Mattioni then threw two incompletions to set up a fourth-and-goal from the 16. On the final play of the game, he threw the ball into the end zone where Daly was waiting.

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PIAA District 1 Class AAAA Quarterfinal Pairings

No. 9 North Penn (9-2) at No. 1 Downingtown East (11-0) 7 p.m. Friday

No. 13 Neshaminy (8-3) at No. 12 Quakertown (9-2) 7 p.m. Friday

No. 15 Pennsbury (8-3) at No. 10 Perkiomen Valley (10-1) 7 p.m. Saturday

No. 6 Upper Darby (10-1) at No. 3 Upper Dublin (11-0) 7 p.m. Friday

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