Pennridge’s defense dominates Souderton in SOL Continental opener

FRANCONIA >> With a defense that derailed an opposing offense for a second straight week, Pennridge continues to pick up steam.

The Rams’ defensive front overwhelmed struggling Souderton, holding the Indians to negative 26 yards on the ground while Ryan Angelini’s three rushing touchdowns helped visiting Pennridge roll to a 34-3 victory in the Suburban One League Continental Conference opener for both teams Friday night.

“Feels like we’re a big freight train,” Rams junior defensive tackle Austin Bishop said of the d-line. “We can’t be stopped.”

Pennridge (3-1, 1-0 conference) pushed into the Souderton (1-3, 0-1) backfield throughout the contest – coming up with sacks on back-to-back plays in the third quarter – and held a team to single digits for the third time in four weeks.

“We watched film, we watched key players that they have and we just worked hard,” Bishop said. “Flew to the ball, make sure they couldn’t get no passes off and they couldn’t run up the middle on us.”

Pennridge, which earned its fourth straight win over Souderton, has not allowed a touchdown the past two games, last week shutting out Perkiomen Valley 29-0 after a 23-14 loss to Neshaminy in Week 2.

“We’ve gone a number of quarters now without giving up a touchdown, I don’t know how many it is, but it’s a lot. And Perk Valley was a heck of a team,” Rams coach Jeff Hollenbach said. “I know these guys can move the ball, so defensively we’re doing some great things. To win in this league we have continue to do that.”

Pennridge’s next stop in the SOL Continental is a home clash with North Penn – a 28-14 winner over Central Bucks West Friday. The Rams, ranked 12th in the latest Top 20, have lost their last four to the Knights.

“Last two weeks have just shown we can play ball,” Pennridge’s Josh Pinkney said. “We can play ball, we can play with any team here, we just have to believe in ourselves, no matter who it is, no matter what the situation is, we can play ball, we can finish.”

With Souderton facing a 3rd and Goal from the Rams 4 early in the second quarter, Bishop burst right up the middle of the line to sack Big Red quarterback Dean DiPisa for a six-yard loss.

“Our d-line, we have quickness, we have strength up there,” Hollenbach said. “Coach (Pete) O’Connor does a great job of rotating people so it’s a lot of fresh people, it’s not always the same guys in there. And they’re huge for what’s going on.”

The Indians settled for a William Leyland 27-yard field goal to make it 7-3 at 9:57 in the second quarter. Souderton went backwards its next series while the Rams found the end zone on their last two drives of the first half – the second set up by a Jadin Bass interception – to go up 20-3 at the break.

“All it takes is one person to not make a play and the play is unsuccessful and unfortunately we continue to take turns not making that play,” Souderton coach Ed Gallagher said. “I’m not going to point fingers at the one guy cause the guy changes every week.

“So we got to look at ourselves, we got to work hard, I’m going to get up tomorrow and get back to work, too but we have a lot of work to do to make this team better. But I think we can.”

Pennridge quarterback Zak Kantor was an efficient 12-of-18 for 219 yards and a touchdown. Kantor connected with Pinkney three times for 53 yards – 27 coming as Pinkney evaded and bulled through tackles to turn a short pass into a 27-yard score that made it 13-3 Rams at 5:07 in the second quarter.

“Hit my guy, my own player and I bounced off,” Pinkney said. “And I saw guys grabbing me but I kept my knees pumping and going and ended up finding the end zone.”

Pinkney hurt his knee on a run in the third quarter and was on crutches after the game but was optimistic on the injury.

“I think the knee’s fine honestly, I can kind of walk on it,” he said. “It was hurting at first but now it feels like it’s a little better.”

DiPisa took the brunt of Pennridge’s pressure but the Souderton QB still threw for 106 yards with a pick on 5-of-12 passing – finding Tre Samuels three times for 76 yards.

“He took a ton of hits and kept bouncing back up and kept getting back out there,” Gallagher said. “So I applaud his effort, I applaud everything he gave us, unfortunately he’s going to be sore tomorrow.

“We got to do a better job, we got to do a better job protecting him. It’s just not good enough. It’s unacceptable and we got to work on it. We’re struggling a little bit up front. We lost a couple bodies we had a couple more that weren’t able to go tonight. We threw the best guys that we thought out there, it just wasn’t good enough tonight.”

Souderton has been held to just a field goal in its last two games and has lost three straight since opening the season by beating Penn Wood. The Indians visit Central Bucks South.

With Pennridge leading 13-3 in the second quarter, Bass’ interception set the Rams up at the Souderton 45. Angelini capped off an eight-play drive with a 1- yard TD run with 1:22 left.

Pennridge reached the Souderton 13 on the first drive of the third quarter, but turned the ball over on downs after a Kantor incompletion. But Joe Devine returned a Souderton punt to the Big Red 7, and Angelini scored his third touchdown the next play on a 7-yard for a 24-3 lead at 2:18 in the third.

The Rams made it 34-3 on the opening play of the fourth, Evan Exner rushing for a 13-yard touchdown at 11:53.

Pennridge fumbled away the ball at the Souderton 20 on its first drive of the night but found the end zone on its second possession – a six-play, 25 yard drive Angelini finished by diving over the goal line for a 4-yard touchdown at 2:28 in the first quarter.

DiPisa connected with Samuels for 53 yards down to the Pennridge 15. The Indians got to within four yards on the end zone twice before having Leyland kick his 27-yard field goal.

After Souderton forced a Pennridge three-and-out, Big Red started at its own 44 but three plays later punted at its 28. Cantor hit Pinkney for the 27-yard score on the Rams’ ensuing drive, which went 64 yards on five plays.

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