DOWNINGTOWN >> If you’re a fan of defensive football, you probably shielded your eyes for much of Friday’s first round District 1 Class 6A game between Downingtown West and Pennsbury.
The two teams combined for 954 yards of total offense — 711 on the ground — and 119 points in an offensive display that would make a Big 12 afficianado sit up and smile.
Despite some anxious moments, top-seeded Downingtown West scored on eight straight possessions to go on and record a wild 63-56 victory over No. 16 Pennsbury at Kottmeyer Stadium. Tyriq Lewis ran for more than 200 yards and notched five scores as the Whippets improved to 10-1. The Falcons, who came in having won six of their last seven games, ended their season at 6-5.
West moves on to the quarterfinals where it will host No. 9 North Penn. It will be a rematch of last year’s seimifinal contest, won by the Knights, 35-21, a result Lewis is eager to rectify.
“They sent us home last year, we want to send them home this year,” said Lewis. “We have t-shirts that say, ‘Defend the D,’ and that’s what we want to do.”
Pennsbury struck first on the first series of the game. The Falcons faced a fourth-and-1 on their 40, when they showed punt. After a timeout, head coach Dan McShane changed his mind and went for it. He was rewarded when quarterback CJ Kohler faked everyone out and rambled 28 yards to the West 32. On the next play, JayVon McNeill broke free off left tackle for the early 7-0 lead.
Lewis scored his first of the night after West stopped the Falcons on a fourth down. Lewis scampered in from the 14 to tie the score at 7-7.
Pennsbury came back and marched 60 yards — the final 44 of them picked up on a run by Brad Mickels — to retake the lead. Pennsbury added to its lead following the strangest play of the night. They tried an onside kick that was touched by a West players, then kicked backwards before the Falcons recovered on their 18. They cashed in the drive seven plays as McNeill barreled in from the 2 for a surprising 21-7 lead.
The Whippets started their scoring barrage on the next drive, taking seven plays to close the deficit. Lwis took an option pitch and raced 34 yards to make it 21-14.
Pennsbury bumped the lead back to two touchdowns as Christian Bond caught a 33-yard pass while laying on his back in the end zone for another touchdown.
But, back came the Whippets, Terrence Gainer, subbing for Lewis, scored for the nine for the first of his two TDs to cut the deficit to 28-21.
“Terrence Gainer had a huge game for us,” said coach Mike Milano. “He doesn’t get a lot of touches, but he’s fast and he did a great job.”
The Whippets held the Falcons late in the half, and scored on three straight completions by Will Howard. The last was an excellent catch by Julian Williams in the back of the end zone to go the half tied at 28-28.
The Whippets received the second-half kickoff and took the lead for the first time of the night, Will Mahmud broke tackles and bulled his way into the end zone for a 32-yard score for a 35-28 lead.
The Falcons amassed over 300 yards in the first half, but were stymied in the second as the Whippets’ offense moved into high gear.
“In the playoffs, you see styles you’re not familiar with and it takes a while for you to adjust,” said Milano. “But we have special kids who have seen a lot this year.”
One of his special players is Lewis, who, following a short punt, broke off a 40-yarder to make it 42-35.
“I like to thank my coaches, who trust me enough to give me the ball,” said Lewis, who ran for 203 yards on 22 carries. “I just run hard and try to make good things happen.
Lewis would later add scores of 27 and 3 yards for his fifth TD of the game. He had six touchdowns in a game earlier in the season. Lewis would later leave the game after getting banged up.
The Whippets now get set for North Penn as their playoff march continues.
“They are another great opponent,” said Milano. “We’ll enjoy for a couple of days, then get ready for North Penn.”