YEADON — Penn Wood's tumultuous early season continued Saturday morning as it suffered a 33-7 loss at the hands of visiting Bishop Shanahan. The Patriots failed to muster a sustained drive until the fourth quarter. By then it was too late. The Eagles had already jumped out to a 33-0 lead thanks to an effective spread offense led by first-year starting quarterback Dan Murphy.
Bishop Shanahan senior lineman Ben Smith, who played both sides of the ball and knocked Patriots starting quarterback Fred Johnson out of the game with a second-quarter sack, praised his team's play.
"We ran the ball well and our defense stopped everything,' he said.
Smith was equally impressed with his new quarterback.
"He's a very smart player. Even if the play is broken, he always seems to get a couple of yards.'
Murphy displayed his knack for escape on multiple occasions, most notably on two of his three touchdown runs. In the first quarter, he collected a low snap from center and still managed to elude Penn Wood's defenders on his way to an 11-yard score. He repeated the trick in the third quarter from eight yards out.
After a Jacob Geiger field goal made it 11-0 early in the second quarter, Murphy pushed the score to 19-0 when he found wide receiver Jeff Zebrowski open in the end zone. The quarterback sealed the game in the second half with back-to-back touchdown runs.
It was a superb debut for Murphy, who accounted for 160 yards of total offense and four touchdowns. The Eagles outgained the Patriots 321-74, led by their quarterback and tight end Cody Smith. Smith set up one scoring drive with a twisting, falling 25-yard reception, and another with a bruising 41-yard run.
Penn Wood had no answer for much of the day, which coach Troy Brooks attributed to poor execution.
"(The defense) needs to do a better job of tackling. We need to focus on technique,' he said. "This is a game we should have been in. It comes down to execution.'
Brooks was happy to see replacement quarterback Naim Rainey finish the game strong with a late touchdown after the Patriots marched down the field.
"We need to keep the kids motivated regardless of the score,' he said.
Rainey will likely get the call to start next week against Garnet Valley as Fred Johnson III recovers from a mild concussion he sustained as a result of Ben Smith's sack.
Senior running back and linebacker Karon Lucas-Tillery hopes to learn from the loss.
"If anything,' Lucas-Tillery said, "(The loss) made us realize how we should play — hard for all four quarters.'
Although the Patriots fell to 0-2 on the young season, the play on the field did little to dampen the mood engulfing the stadium as the school continues to recover from the preseason theft of thousands of dollars worth of football equipment. Before kickoff, State Sen. Anthony Williams stood alongside Penn Wood Athletic Director Rap Curry as the latter announced that Williams had pledged $400 to help replenish the lost gear. In addition to Williams' donation, Curry received a $200 check from Bishop Shanahan's booster club.
"It means a lot to me, truthfully,' Curry said at halftime. "We're all just trying to give young people an opportunity to get off the streets and into a positive activity. The stealing of the equipment stunts our growth.'
Brooks said a sense of normalcy has finally returned to his squad.
"One spectator walked up to me and gave me $100 right out of her pocket. A coach in Lynchburg, Va., donated shoulder pads,' he said.
"It really humbles us. All of the support has helped us get back.'
Penn Wood hopes that the fresh equipment brings with it a fresh start.
"A lot of times you feel alone,' Curry said. "For other people to recognize what we're doing. ... I'm very appreciative.'