Eaton, North Penn offense too much for CB South

TOWAMENCIN >> No one was chasing down Andrew Berry this time.

“Last week I had a big run and I got caught,” the North Penn senior fullback said. “So this week I was looking behind me to make sure I wasn’t going to get caught.”

Berry took a handoff up the middle and with nothing but the end zone in front of him, outran the Central Bucks South defense for a 72-yard touchdown and 28-13 Knights lead with 4:05 left in the second quarter.

“It was a trap play but the line blocked incredible – just a huge hole,” Berry said. “And I just had so much open space.”

There was no catching Berry on that run. And Friday night, there was no slowing down the Knights football team.

Hitting its stride in its season finale, North Penn compiled a massive 675 yards of offense – 552 coming on the ground behind its stout offensive line – and rolled past the visiting Titans 52-20.

“We’re a very humble team but I just certainly feel like nobody would have stopped us,” Knights junior running back Khalani Eaton said. “Our defense, it could have a couple tweaks to it and all that but as a team, as an offense and our backfield we’re unstoppable.”

Eaton produced another superb rushing performance – eclipsing 1,000 yards in just five games as he went for 254 yards and four touchdowns on 17 carries. The Knights (4-1) scored 31 straight points after CB South pulled within 21-13 in the second quarter to pull away and claim their fourth consecutive victory.

“The o-line was great all year,” Knights coach Dick Beck said. “Back-wise, we’re dangerous and the quarterback throws the ball so well and can throw it deep and the receivers – really happy with these guys. This is a dangerous team.”

Dangerous – yet with no one left to play. In a normal season, North Penn would be gearing up to make another run at the District 1 title. But with the COVID-19 pandemic shortening the year and cutting the district’s Class 6A field to just four, the Knights’ 35-19 loss to Neshaminy in its opener has them missing out on the postseason for the first time since 2012.

“It’s a shame that we’re in it this year because I think that we had a very, very good shot especially in that small field,” North Penn senior center Colin Davis said. “But as a senior, it’s crazy being here last year, knowing how special playoffs are. It sucks but it’s something that this experience this year was insane and winning out this game –really bittersweet, a lot of emotions but I’m just glad we got the win.”

Beck likened this year’s squad to his first North Penn team in 2002, which got into the District 1-4A playoffs at 7-2, won the district title and reached the PIAA semifinals to finish 10-3. The next season, the Knight captured the state championship with a perfect 15-0 record.

“That’s what this team reminded me of because we weren’t great on defense especially against Neshaminy,” Beck said. “An offensively we made some mistakes during there and Neshaminy played real well and beat us – I think by the end of the year, I don’t think anybody wants us in the playoffs.”

The Knights’ offensive line of Davis, tackles Darren Miller and Dan Hicks, guards Cam McQueen and John Derkits along with tight end Mike Darcy and fullback Berry paved the way for the Knights’ rushing attack to score six touchdowns while Eaton went over 200 rushing yards for the third time in 2020.

Eaton ran for his fourth TD on his final carry of the night – a 72-yarder early in the fourth that saw him go right then cut back across the field to go into the end zone along the left side. The score put his season rushing total at 1,038 yards – an average of 207.6 per game.

“It’s just us – that’s pregame preparation,” said Davis of the o-line’s play. “That’s exactly what Coach Beck, Coach (Ricky) Leisey all of them preach every single day in practice. We are watching film constantly, we’re going home and watching film and the scout team is doing an amazing job of giving us the look we need to see. So when we get in game, it is repetition for us. We already know what’s coming, which way the defense is going to go so we are just ready for it.”

Berry had 96 yards on four carries and also caught one pass for 15 yards. NP quarterback Ryan Zeltt was 4-of-8 passing for 123 yards with one touchdown – an 88-yard strike to Levi Carroll in the third – and an interception.

Central Bucks South QB Carter Hallgren threw for 276 yards and a touchdown on 19-of-33 passing, connecting with Ryan Schaub eight times for 130 yards. Jason Christiansen ran 24 times for 144 yards and a touchdown for the Titans (2-3), who dropped their second straight.

South still has two games left, both at home. The Titans face Central Bucks West Nov. 6 then take on Neshaminy Nov. 13.

Beck said the Knights tried adding to its schedule but could not find an opponent.

“I tried to call people, no one called us back,” he said. “We called one school three times – they never even returned our phone call.”

North Penn took a 7-0 lead on Friday’s opening possession – Eaton capping a seven-play, 80-yard drive with a 1-yard TD run at 9:02 in the first quarter. South’s up-tempo attack answered on the ensuing drive when Christiansen crossed the goal line on a two-yard run at 5:57. A blocked extra point kept the Knights up 7-6.

On a 3rd-and-8 at the South 36, Zeltt found Jalen Edwards for 17 yards and four plays later Eaton scored on a 7-yard run for a 14-6 NP lead at 2:26.

The Knights recovered at Titans fumble at the 50 and needed five plays to go up 21-6 at 23.7 seconds left in the first quarter when Eaton scored on a 15-yard run.

“The blocks were there, the holes were there, I just cut them hard,” Eaton said. “What we’ve been working on all week in practice so we just had to perfect it.”

CB South pulled within 21-13 when Hallgren hit Zak Fischer in the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown at 9:08 in the second quarter.

A NP fumble gave The Titans the ball at their own 20 and the visitors proceeded to drive inside the Knights’ 15. But on 4th-and-3 from the 12, North Penn stopped a South run two yards short.

It took just three plays for the Knights to make it 28-13 as Berry got through the line and dashed 72 yards with 4:05 left in the half.

Grace Macnamara’s 30-yard field goal put North Penn up 31-13 at 8:33 in the third. The Titans had another drive deep in Knights territory but again turned the ball over on downs – throwing incomplete on 4th-and-6 at the NP 12.

The next snap, Zeltt dropped in a pass to Carroll down the middle and the junior wide receiver raced away for an 88-yard score with 5:55 remaining in the third.

Eaton’s 72-yard TD run made it 45-13 at 11:44 in the fourth. One play after North Penn recovered at South fumble at Knights 31, Maliq Staten sprinted 69 yards for a touchdown at 10:20 for a 52-13 advantage. A 9-yard touchdown run by South’s Ben Wenzke made it 52-20 with 8:06 left.

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