North Penn’s de­fense holds off Ne­shaminy

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - SPORTS - By Kev Hunter khunter@21st-cen­tu­ry­media. com @khunter10 on Twit­ter

AMBLER, PA. >> North Penn’s Evan Spann “found the curl,” and his 30-yard in­ter­cep­tion re­turn for a touch­down locked down a rain-swept, 13-6 vic­tory over Ne­shaminy in the quar­ter­fi­nal round of the Dis­trict 1-6A Play­offs Fri­day night.

“We were telling Evan all week, ‘find the curl, find the curl,” Knights coach Dick Beck said, “and fi­nally he found the curl. And (quar­ter­back Brody McAn­drew) threw it a lit­tle late and Evan got the pick six.”

The top-seeded Knights (12-0) go thun­der­ing into the semi­fi­nals to take on Down­ing­town West next week at Craw­ford Sta­dium. No. 8 Ne­shaminy, its sea­son book­ended by close losses to North Penn, fin­ished its sea­son 8-4.

“Credit North Penn for a re­ally good pass rush,” Skins coach Steve Wil­mot said, “and they were cov­er­ing us pretty well too.”

It was an evening in which Ne­shaminy run­ning back Chris James gained 139 yards on the ground — 107 in the first half alone — but North Penn’s de­fense re­fused to cede pre­cious points.

Even with­out the ser­vices of stand­out line­backer Erik Laugh­lin, NP’s leader in tack­les, the Knights per­sisted.

“We knew we were gonna start off a lit­tle weak be­cause Laugh­lin got hurt in pregame warmups,” Spann said. “So the next man had to step up and we kept fight­ing, didn’t give up.”

And that next man was Ju­lian White.

Said Beck: “Ju­lian has never played that po­si­tion be­fore, and we just put him in and said ‘make plays.’ I’m just so proud of the kids. It’s a great group.”

“We don’t stop fight­ing un­til we get what we needed done,” Spann said. “It feels great (to ad­vance). I’m ex­cited.”

James’ first three car­ries went for 19, 11 and 22 yards on the drenched Wis­sahickon turf, help­ing to drive Ne­shaminy to the North Penn four.

But ul­ti­mately, the Knights would force a field-goal at­tempt, which sailed wide, keep­ing the game score­less. Ne­shaminy drove to the North Penn 22 on its next se­ries but this time turned it over on downs.

McAn­drew was un­der siege.

“Their pass rush was very good,” Wil­mot said. “They were kind of keep­ing Brody on his toes back there and he re­ally wasn’t able to set his feet and throw the ball.”

Be­hind the run­ning of James, the Skins again mounted a drive late in the first quar­ter, cash­ing in with a four-yard touch­down run by Oley Manzvk. The ex­tra point was blocked by the Knights.

North Penn an­swered in the sec­ond quar­ter, an eight­yard TD run by quar­ter­back Solomon Robin­son push­ing NP ahead 7-6.

There it stayed for most of the rainy evening. Ne­shaminy drove to the North Penn 16 in the third quar­ter but again the North Penn de­fense held, forc­ing a turnover on downs.

“(James) is a real tal­ented kid and things were click­ing with the run game,” Wil­mot said. “(North Penn) came out with a five-man front against the pass and we were hav­ing a tough time block­ing them.”

The Knights had a chance to ex­tend their lead with three min­utes left but weren’t able to get off a field-goal at­tempt on a bro­ken play.

Ne­shaminy’s fi­nal two pos­ses­sions ended with in­ter­cep­tions, the sec­ond by Kaleem Corbin in the fi­nal mo­ments.

“Two great pro­grams. North Penn did a great job and I con­grat­u­late them on mov­ing on,” said Manzvk, a Skins se­nior. “Our of­fen­sive line did a great job early and (North Penn) caught up to what we were do­ing, like a great team does, and they coun­tered.”

It would be a night of missed op­por­tu­ni­ties for Ne­shaminy, and one gi­ant op­por­tu­nity seized by Spann and the North Penn de­fense.

“I saw an open lane and I just ran, as fast as I could,” Spann said of his mind­set once he clutched the game­seal­ing in­ter­cep­tion.

“I thought our sec­ondary,” Beck said, “against a heck of a quar­ter­back, re­ally had a good night.”

GENE WALSH — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Ne­shaminy’s Chris James (29) car­ries the ball against North Penn dur­ing Fri­day night’s play­off game.

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