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By Scott Huff
FAIRLESS HILLS – Do not dare the Pennsbury offense.
Do not dare, provoke, goad, or challenge the Falcons when they own the football. And do NOT walk nine, ten, or even eleven guys in the box in an attempt to shut down their potent rushing attack.
Penncrest attempted to do just that as the Lions opened the PIAA Class AAAA District One playoffs at Pennsbury. And the result was a 45-14 spanking by the Falcons.
“Teams in our league simply would not attempt to do that,” said Pennsbury coach Galen Snyder. “Teams know that we run the football, but they also know that we can throw it.
“When a defense has everyone at the line of scrimmage, you have to throw the football,” added Snyder. “And I knew we could hurt them throwing the ball.”
Sophomore quarterback Brandon Pepper completed just five passes, but the QB fired for a staggering 143 yards and a pair of game-breaking touchdowns to Dante Devine.
“To be honest, when they have that many guys in the box, it’s kind of easy to complete passes,” said Pepper. “We knew that we could score points – whether we ran the ball or passed the ball.”
Not that Pennsbury ignored the run.
In fact, the Falcons flew to 278 yards on the ground and featured a stellar performance by senior fullback Richie Applegate. Applegate – who scored three touchdowns - led all rushers with 148 yards on 14 carries.
“The offensive line did a great job in bad field conditions,” said Applegate in reference to the game being played for the most part in a driving rain. “Their defense is a lot like Abington’s defense, and we had a good game plan.”
If the Pennsbury defensive game plan hoped to create turnovers – it would have been graded an ‘A’ as the Falcons generated five turnovers. Pennsbury recovered three fumbles and had a pair of interceptions.
“We really played well in all three phases of the game,” said Snyder. “We gave up some yards, but we kept them from scoring a lot of points.”
Pennsbury raced for an astounding 421 yards of total offense, while Penncrest posted a gaudy 362 yards of total offense.
Pennsbury opened the scoring on its initial drive as the Falcons marched 58-yards on 7-plays for the score. Applegate capped the drive with a three-yard TD burst, while place kicker Blake Montgomery added the extra point.
Pennsbury added a 20-yard field goal by Montgomery to give the Falcons a 10-0 lead. The score was set up by an interception by Kyle Miller.
Penncrest closed to within 10-7 early in the second period. Jerry Boyer bolted 64 yards for the TD, and place kicker Tom Weathers added the PAT.
Moments later, Pennsbury countered with a long distance TD run of its own. Applegate jettisoned through the heart of the Lion defense to go 51 yards for the touchdown to present the Falcons with a 17-7 lead.
Penncrest, though, rallied back to make the score 17-14. Boyer culminated an eight-play, 82-yard scoring march with a three-yard run. Boyer finished with a team-high 114 yards.
Pennsbury again answered quickly. Applegate ripped off a 39-yard run and capped the scoring drive with a six-yard bolt over the middle. Montgomery’s extra point would give the Falcons a 24-14 halftime advantage.
Pepper unveiled the Falcon passing game in the second half. On the first Pennsbury drive of the second half, Pepper fired a 28-yard pass to Steve Marck and concluded the drive with a gorgeous 13-yard scoring pass to Devine.
Pepper threw his second scoring strike to Devine – this one an 11-yard scoring pass – to conclude a five-play 59-yard drive early in the fourth period. Pepper also fired a 44-yard aerial to Jay Jabat in the drive.
The final Falcon score came when Davante Washington intercepted a pass and cruised 45 yards for the touchdown.
The victory will put Pennsbury into the second round of the playoffs. The Falcons will meet unbeaten Garnet Valley – a 21-7 winner over Pennridge – in a game to be played at Garnet Valley.
“You aren’t unbeaten unless you are a good football team,” said Snyder. “When I get home tonight, I’ll start looking at the film.”
And you can bet that Garnet Valley will also be looking at some film of the Pennsbury-Penncrest game.
And you can bet you won’t find nine, ten, or eleven men in the box.
Penncrest 0 14 0 0 - 14
Pennsbury 10 14 7 14 - 45
PB – Applegate 3 run (Montgomery kick)
PB – Montgomery 20 FG
PC – Boyer 64 run (Weathers kick)
PB – Applegate 51 run (Montgomery kick)
PC – Boyer 3 run (Weathers kick)
PB – Applegate 6 run (Montgomery kick)
PB – Devine 13 pass from Pepper (Montgomery kick)
PB – Devine 11 pass from Pepper (Montgomery kick)
PB – Washington 45 interception return
First Downs – [PC] – 15; [PB] – 19.
Rushing – [PC] – 169; [PB] – 278.
Passing – [PC] – 193; [PB] – 143.
Total Offense – [PC] – 362; [PB] – 421.
Punts – [PC] – 3-32; [PB]- 3-36.
Penalties – [PC] – 6-52; [PB] 4-30.
Rushing: Boyer 14-114 – 2 TD; Kershaw 10-49; Young 6-30; Atkinson 7 (minus 24). Totals 37-169- 2 TD.
Passing: Atkinson 9-22-2; 193 yards.
Receiving: Bundy 3-75; Barbieri 3-19; Bailey 2-97; Boyer 1-2. Totals 9-193.
Rushing: Applegate 14-148- 3 TD; Devine 11-54; Pepper 11-42; Lollis 3-22; McRae 1-12. Totals 40-278- 3 TD.
Passing: Pepper 5-8-0; 143 yards – 2 TD.
Receiving: Devine 3-71- 2 TD; Jabat 1-44; Marck 1-28. Totals 5-143 yards - 2 TD.
Interceptions: Miller, Washington.