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Jags claw past Knights in 4th QTR stunner

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The Garnet Valley Jaguars edge the North Penn Knights in the fourth quarter

The Garnet Valley Jaguars edge the North Penn Knights in the fourth quarter

Anissa Gardizy

Anissa Gardizy

The Garnet Valley Jaguars edge the North Penn Knights in the fourth quarter

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CONCORD- After beating Garnet Valley (No. 3, 11-1) last year to clinch the 6A District One Championship, this year, it was North Penn (No. 6, 9-3) who was left standing in the cold, ending their playoff run in the second round. With just one point separating the Jaguars and the Knights at the end of the game, it is hard to believe that North Penn lead 35-7 in the third quarter. It is even harder to believe that North Penn’s season came to an end by the hands of a third string sophomore quarterback from Garnet Valley.

The first quarter started like most North Penn football games do. North Penn had control. The Knights ran the ball, they threw the ball, and they got on the scoreboard first with a pass from quarterback Steve DePaul to Justis Henley (7:21, 36 yards). The pair recorded a 49 yard touchdown just minutes later, establishing 14-0  lead in the first quarter (4:55).

“We started out fast, and we were throwing the ball all over the place. Steve and Justis were really connecting and our defense played aggressive,” said North Penn senior Matt Bevan.

After being shut out in the first quarter, the Jaguars took only thirty seconds to earn a touchdown in the second. Gallagher, the third string sophomore, connected in the air with Shane Van Horn, putting Garnet Valley into Knights territory, and it was Danny Guy who ran the ball to the 1 yard line on the following play. Matthew Lassik punched in the touchdown, and it seemed as if the game might actually be a close one (11:30). That is, until North Penn scored twice before the second half.

Despite getting sacked and having to recover his own fumble, DePaul was able to reach Henley for a 33 yard touchdown (8:24). Then, after Julian White recovered a Garnet Valley fumble and took the ball into the Jaguars’ territory, DePaul executed big passes to Owen Thomas and AJ Catanzaro. He left the rest for KJ Cartwright who scored the last touchdown of the first half (3:22, 10 yards).

It was 28-7 going into the second half.

If the Jaguars had any intentions of getting back into the game, fumbling on the first play of the second half was probably not a part of the plan. The Knights recovered the ball on the Jaguars’ 32 and capitalized on their possession with a passing play (9:31, Henley, 9 yards). Henley’s score made the game 35-7, and the Knight’s 6A District playoff win seemed inevitable.

But for some reason, with time ticking in the third quarter and a four touchdown deficit, the Jaguars didn’t look panicked.

“I told them not to play scared, just play our game, and not worry about anything else,” said Garnet Valley Coach Mike Ricci.

Between Lassik and Guy, Garnet Valley ran the ball all the way down to the two yard line. On the snap, Gallagher recovered his own fumble for a touchdown (2 yards, 4:23). Still down 35-14, the Jaguars  once again found themselves just yards away from the end zone, but they weren’t able to score going into the final quarter.

It was in the last twelve minutes that the entire story of the game changed. North Penn fumbled the ball, which resulted in an 8 yard touchdown rush by Guy (10:21). On the kickoff, North Penn fumbled again, and the Jaguars rushed to the one yard line where Guy put another touchdown on the board (6:26). All of a sudden, just one touchdown separated the underdogs and the defending 6A District Champions.

On the Knights’ next possession, they were forced to punt, leaving Garnet Valley five minutes to make something happen. That’s when the Knights’ defense came up big. North Penn’s line kept the Jaguars two inches away from an important first down, taking back the ball with 3:43 left in the game.

“It was a huge momentum shift. Our line got great penetration and stuffed the quarterback, which set up the potential game winning drive,” said Bevan.

However, unable to find any offensive opportunities, North Penn punted again, leaving Garnet Valley two minutes and 70 yards to tie up the game. A pass from Gallagher to Kevin Doherty got them 45 yards closer to the end zone, and the Jaguars were within the Knights’ 30 yard line with less than a minute on the clock. When Gallagher sent the ball to Guy, he swung into the endzone, making it a 35-34 game (0:46). Garnet Valley made the decision to go for a two point conversion, setting themselves up to either win or lose by one point. The Jaguars put the fate of their season into the hands of Gallagher, who kept the ball himself instead of handing off, plunging across the goal line.

“I got to be honest, man, we thought [Gallagher] was going to pitch it to [Guy], and he put it up and kept it. It was unbelievable,” said Ricci.

“That was it. It was our entire season bottled up into one play, and it just didn’t go our way,” said Bevan.

The Knights had less than half a minute to try and score again, but they never made it past the 50.

Garnet Valley will be facing the Pennridge Rams this Friday in the third round of 6A District One Playoffs.

 

 

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1 Comment

One Response to “Jags claw past Knights in 4th QTR stunner”

  1. Maria Gardizy on November 12th, 2017 3:05 pm

    Thanks for 2 years of terrific NP football coverage, Anissa!

    [Reply]

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Online News Day or Knight - Official news site of North Penn High School - 1340 Valley Forge Rd. Lansdale, PA
Jags claw past Knights in 4th QTR stunner