TOWAMENCIN — The North Penn football team has never been one to panic.
The team never wavered in its self-confidence. The Knights did not panic after a tough three game stretch to start the season, not when they were given the task of knocking off the defending district champs in the first round, and this Friday night at Crawford Stadium, they did not panic trailing Perkiomen Valley at halftime
If the Knights were going to walk away from the District One Class AAAA semifinal game a winner they needed to slow down Vikings dual threat quarterback Rasaan Stewart, who carried his 15th-seeded team to a six point lead at the half. Coach Dick Beck's bunch needed to punch back. The 11th-seed wasted little time delivering the knockout punch.
Behind a calm and confident defense and the running duo of Nyfease West and Luke Berry the Knights pulled away from the Perk Valley. The 40-19 final has the Knights one win away from another District One championship.
"Our offensive line was just going off,' West said. "It was easy to run and I give all of the praise to the line. Luke Berry taught me how to run hard and never give up. I never imagined I would be in this position.'
The Knights (10-3) were pleased to get a 19-yard field goal from Matt Ammendola at the end of the second quarter to bring the score to 19-13 and make the fireworks that were Stewart an afterthought. The Vikings (10-3) quarterback took the first play of the game 82 yards and finished with 179 on the ground, but it was the Knights' time in the second half.
"It was a pretty special defensive second half,' Beck said. "They were hurting us so much running the ball, especially with the quarterback, so we switched up the coverage and put an extra guy in the box. Boy, did that help.'
West walked into the end zone from 12 yards and the defense displayed the adjustments they talked about in the locker room. Safety Zach Brandis crept up to the line scrimmage to knock the ball out of a receivers hands, Kevin Vanden Plas had the first of his two sacks, and another batted down ball gave the Vikings their first three and out of the evening.
"We wanted to come back in the second half and get them like they got us,' West said. "We did exactly what we wanted to do.'
"A couple times they tried to run the QB up the middle and we were there to make the hit,' Beck said. "It was a big adjustment we made at halftime. We had been behind at half before and we were not going to panic.'
The defensive effort clearly set the tone. The Knights used the versatility of senior captain Kris Akins to account for the Stewart's mobility. Stewart also threw for 129 yards, but failed to complete passes to move the chains in the second half.
"Akins was the extra guy in the box and (on fourth and seven from the 31) he was playing in coverage,' Beck said. "They made a great play call, but Kris recovered. We always talk about how I do not want guys that can do one thing.'
It was a fourth and seven call by Vikings coach Scott Reed that showed signs of desperation settling in. A double reverse flea flicker set up receiver Dakota Clanagan for a shot into the end zone. However there was Akins to bat down the ball at the goal line. Seconds later Austin Shearer hit his tight end Nick Wright for a 68 yard touchdown pass and all of the sudden there was a rout on hand.
"Austin was spot on tonight,' Beck said. "And what can you say about the offensive line, especially in the second half. They played with an attitude.'
Wright finished with 97 yards receiving, while West and Berry did most of the grunt-work. West finished with 221 yards, which included a 68 yard answer to Stewart's opening play on the Knights first offensive play. Berry plowed forward for two scores and 156 yards. Neshaminy (12-1), in the Class AAAA title game next Friday, will be the next team to try and stop the Knights calm and collected defense, and possibly an unstoppable rushing combo in West and Berry.
"Berry is a north and south runner who is low to the ground,' Beck said. "You cannot arm tackle him. With the 1-2 combo of Nyfease's speed, Luke's power, and the way our offensive line came off the ball tonight — I feel like we can run on anybody.'
District 1-AAAA Semifinals
North Penn 40, Perkiomen Valley 19
Perk Valley 6 7 6 0 — 19
North Penn 7 12 14 7 — 40
PV — Rasaan Stewart 82 yard run (Matt Genaurdi kick)
NP — Nyfease West 68 yard run (Matt Ammendola kick)
NP — Ammendola 35 yard field goal
PV — Stewart five yard run (Genuardi kick)
PV — Stewart 33 yard run (kick failed)
NP — Ammendola 19 yard field goal
NP — West 12 yard run (kick failed)
NP — Luke Berry two yard run (Ammendola kick)
NP — Nick Wright 68 yard pass from Austin Shearer (Ammendola kick)
NP — Berry one yard run (Ammendola kick)
Perk Valley North Penn
First downs 14 33
Rushing yards 212 390
Passing yards 129 177
Total yards 341 567
Passing (c-a-i) (10-21-1) (9-13-0)
Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-1
Punts-avg 3-35 0-0
Penalties 4-30 3-15
Perk Valley — Stewart 15-179, 3 TDs; Bonomo 7-31; Holland 1-10; O'Donnell 1-(-8)
North Penn — West 26-221, 2 TDs; Berry 25-156, 2 TDs; Posavec 2-10; Shearer 3-3
Perk Valley — Stewart 10-20-1 — 129; Clanagan 0-1-0 — 0
North Penn — Shearer 9-13-0 — 177, TD
Perk Valley — O'Donnell 4-71; Domine 3-25; Bonomo 3-22; Clanagan 1-18
North Penn — Wright 4-97, TD; Hudimac 3-45; Gill 2-33
Perk Valley — none
North Penn — Liddy
Perk Valley — Rotondo
North Penn — Vanden Plas (2)
Follow Andrew Marcus on Twitter @amarcus515.