Things were lining up reasonably well for the host Council Rock North football team in its Saturday, Sept. 24 Suburban One Continental game with Bensalem.
Then, in a few decisive minutes late in the contest, things went really bad for the Indians (0-2, 1-4) as Bensalem (1-1, 2-3) took over down the stretch and emerged with a 22-14 victory.
Leading 14-7 with less than five minutes left, CR North surrendered a safety when a high snap on a punt attempt sailed out of the end zone. Taking the ensuing kickoff, Bensalem marched 43 yards and notched the winning touchdown when Thomas Bailey – a freshman making his first varsity start – swept around right end 21 yards and into the end zone.
Council Rock North still had a chance after taking over on its own 25-yard line with about two minutes left and down by only one, 15-14. But, rolling out right and trying to fit the ball into a tight space, sophomore quarterback Julian Matera threw a pass that was intercepted by Bailey and returned for a touchdown.
Though the TD was negated by a Bensalem penalty on the interception return, the Owls were not to be denied and salted the game away with a short drive and another Bailey TD run.
“There are positives to be gained from this game,” CR North coach John Greiner said. “They had us down, we came back and then they came back again. There are some things we can build on. I have faith in the seniors we have. They’re going to rise up and get better each and every game.”
Bensalem took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on an 11-yard run by Rymeer Newkirk, who led Bensalem with 108 rushing yards on the day.
Council Rock North tied it up roughly midway through the second quarter when Matera hit senior split end Vaughn Vanderslice for a 20-yard TD pass. The Indians took their 14-7 lead late in the third quarter when Matera hit senior running back Gavin Papp dashing down the right sideline for a 22-yard TD strike. The drive was kept alive on a fourth down and two on a great diving catch by Vanderslice.
Matera played most of the game at QB after taking over for junior Will Scibona, who had taken over for junior Jackson Farley after he had thrown two interceptions. Matera finished 12 of 19 through the air for 169 yards, two touchdowns and the interception.
“Jules (Matera) came in and did a remarkable job moving us up and down the field,” Grenier said.
In addition to his touchdown catch, Papp led CR North rushers with 75 yards on only seven carries.
“Julian has been throwing some really good balls,” Papp said. “He’s young, and every game he’s been getting more experience and getting better. That’s what we love to see.
“We shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times today. It’s adversity, and we have to battle through it and keep playing.”
For Bensalem, Bailey had two interceptions on defense to go along with his two rushing TDs. Coach Alex Houston started three freshmen on defense.
“We needed to get more playmakers in the lineup, and they came through,” he said.