Pennridge picks up W at CB South
Micah Stutzman used every inch of his 6’1” frame and then some as Matt Pasquale’s pass threatened to sail over his head.
Stutzman leaped and got his fingertips on the ball, and as he fell to the turf, juggled the ball briefly while on his back. The ball came to rest on Stutzman’s No. 3.
“I gave [the defensive back] an inside fake and Matt threw it up and I just made a play on it,” Stutzman said of his fourth-quarter grab that resulted in a five-yard touchdown reception, which, along with the two-point conversion, gave Pennridge its winning margin, 24-13, at Central Bucks South on Saturday.
The victory snapped a two-game losing skid for the Rams in Suburban One League Continental Conference play.
“The two longest weeks of my life,” said Stutzman, referencing consecutive setbacks to Central Bucks West and Souderton by a combined four points.
“They say it’s a game of inches, but, literally, it was two games of inches. It felt good to get a win here, get back on a winning streak and now we have to focus on North Penn (Friday, Oct. 18, at 7:30 p.m., in Lansdale).”
The Titans received a heavy dose of standout tailback Mike Class (26 carries for 116 yards and one touchdown), but the Rams continued to hurt head coach Dave Rackovan’s squad through the air. Pasquale (13-for-17 for 182 yards) misfired on only four passes and locked in on the reliable Stutzman (eight catches for 112 yards and the one touchdown at the 11:02 mark of the fourth).
“I thought we played the rush really well,” CB South senior linebacker Paul Weeks said. “We have to work on our passing defense.”
Turnovers killed the Titans, as well. CB South had four of them, including three in the second half. Joe Unangst had a pick on the final play of the first half, and Class and Stutzman secured interceptions in the fourth quarter for the Rams. Devon Balmer also came up with a fumble recovery in Pennridge territory.
“We just made too many mistakes to win the game,” Weeks said.
The Titans, who are moving forward without standout running back Josh Adams (torn ACL), fell to 2-2 in conference play and 4-3 overall. Junior Dion Clifton was asked to do the heavy lifting in place of Adams against the Rams and managed 85 yards on 21 carries, but only two went for more than 10 yards.
“We needed to keep their offense off the field,” said Pennridge head coach Jeff Hollenbach, whose club is 5-2 overall. “They do some really good things. That passing game, that spread stuff, it drives you crazy. To be able to control the ball a little bit more was really important.”
CB South took a 7-0 lead halfway through the first quarter as Weeks hauled in a Matt Radwanski (18-for-37 for 165 yards) pass and raced 15 yards for the score. The Rams tied the game on a Class three-yard run up the middle late in the second quarter and went ahead, 10-7, courtesy of a Pete Psomiadis 32-yard field goal with 12.5 seconds left in the first half.
Pennridge increased its advantage to 16-7 on its first drive of the second half, which was capped by a Pasquale two-yard keeper. Clifton blocked the PAT for CB South. The Titans answered quickly with a nine-play scoring drive that ended with a Weeks four-yard inside reverse at the 1:26 mark of the third. The extra-point attempt was wide left, and the Rams continued to lead, 16-13.
Stutzman’s final catch of the day, a beauty in the left corner of the end zone, gave the Pennridge defense a cushion to work with.
“A credit to Matty, too,” Hollenbach said of his senior signal caller. “He had all kinds of pressure. He knew Micah would probably be there. … The two of them with Mike Class and others have just been terrific this year.”
Weeks, who amassed 78 yards on nine catches, was wary of the Rams coming in.
“I knew they were a good football team; I knew they were going to come out hungry,” he said. “It was an important game for both of us, and we should have come out and won that game.”
The importance of the contest wasn’t lost on Hollenbach, either. Although it’s customary for high school players to line up on both sides of the ball, Pennridge wasn’t shy about giving Pasquale, Class and Stutzman, among many others, snaps on the defensive side of the ball at CB South.
“Talk about a warrior,” Hollenbach said of Stutzman. “I think he ran every play, offensively and defensively, and he’s running all over the field. At the end of the game, I said, ‘Micah, can you do this? [He said], Absolutely, coach, get the ball to me.’ That’s the kind of kid he is.”
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