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Quakertown football team's journey continues


The Quakertown football team has been on a mission to keep the season going for as long as possible.
The quest will continue.
The fifth-seeded Panthers traveled to fourth seed Downingtown East and knocked out the Cougars with a 42-21 victory in the quarterfinal round of the District One Class 4A tournament on Friday night at Downingtown West’s Walter E. Kottmeyer Stadium.
The game started off looking like it would be a shootout.
Special teams got the Panthers on the board first when they blocked a punt and Brett Hileman fell on the ball in the end zone. The extra point attempt was no good, but Quakertown had an early 6-0 lead.
Downingtown East made it 7-6 with a touchdown, then picked up a Quakertown fumble and took it to the end zone for a 14-6 lead.
The Panthers scratched back with a 31-yard touchdown pass from Will Steich to Tyler Woodman. Woodman ran the ball in for the two-point conversion and at the end of the first quarter it was 14-14.
Quakertown jumped ahead 20 seconds into the second quarter when Steich hit John Eatherton with a 37-yard TD pass. Riley Gaj kicked the extra point, and the Panthers took a 21-14 lead.
Downingtown East tied it with 4:55 to go in the half, but with just 33 seconds to go in the period, Steich once again hit a target for a score, connecting with Zach Fondl for a 24-yard touchdown to send the Panthers into the locker room with a 28-21 lead.
Quakertown dominated the third quarter but had nothing to show for it until 1:50 remained, when Woodman rushed 12 yards for a touchdown to extend the lead to 35-21, then Woodman capped the evening with a 3-yard touchdown run in the final five minutes of the game. Madison Peacher’s extra point gave the Panthers the 42-21 finish.
“It was a little ugly at times and a little sloppy at times, but we showed that even when we’re down we can still play our hearts out and play through adversity,” Woodman said. “That’s what’s really special about this team. Where other teams would quit, we pick it up. “I think the way that we played in the second half, and the way that we bounce back when we’re down shows that it doesn’t matter who our opponent is. What matters is who’s in the mirror. If we can persevere through whatever’s pushing us back, we can win against anybody.
“This game was tied a couple of times and we just kept plugging. That’s what we do. That’s who we are.”

It was noteworthy that Quakertown held Downingtown East scoreless in the second half.
“The blocked punt started things off, and it was really blow for blow,” Quakertown coach George Banas said. “We knew coming down here that it was going to be a heavyweight fight. We knew they were going to come out swinging and we’d have to take their best shot and we’d have to give them our best shot.
“It was back and forth until we could finally get some breathing room. The score before the half was huge and then in the third quarter, we just couldn’t get it in and that was really frustrating, but then we finally broke through and we were able to secure the win.
“It’s great to get this far. We had goals at the beginning of the year. This was a big check box for us.”

There was a lot of chatter about Quakertown being seeded fifth despite being undefeated, while teams with losses were ahead of them in the power points system, but the Panthers have shrugged it off.
“It’s just a number,” Eatherton said. “It doesn’t mean anything.
“We heard them talking all week and we thought we were going to come down here and beat them and we did it. They thought we were the underdogs and we came out here and I think we proved them wrong.
“We just kept working. We did everything we had to do to get this win.
“We definitely feel good. I think this is the best we’ve played all season. We’ll see next week. It’s a little intimidating to play the top seed but again, we’re the underdogs. We’ve got to prove them wrong.”
There was a huge crowd on the Quakertown side of the stadium.
“That was fun,” Woodman said. “Our fans came out to the game. I think we had more fans than they did and it was their home game. Whenever we make a good play or do something well, they’re right behind us. They don’t understand how much that helps us gain confidence when we’re in a game and I think that’s big.”
Quakertown is now 12-0 for the first time in program history, and this is the first team with two postseason victories.
“We wanted to win the second-round game,” Banas said. “It’s never been done in school history, and we wanted to get to 12-0 so there’s no discussion about who the best team in Quakertown history is, but at the same time, stay hungry. That’s the key.
“We’re not done. We’re not playing with house money. That’s not the mentality. In previous years we sort of got to that point where OK, we’re playing with house money but I don’t think that’s the case with this group. I think we’ll put the hammer down and start grinding this week and give ‘em hell on Friday. It’s football in November and it’s very exciting.”
The Panthers will put their perfect record on the line in the semifinals on Friday, when they travel to No. 1 seed Garnet Valley, a 41-13 winner over eighth seed Central Bucks West.
“We’re going to watch film, and we’re going to do everything that we can to prepare for them, but there’s no doubt in my mind that we can win any game that’s in front of us,” Woodman said.
CB West jumped out to an early 7-0 lead after quarterback Ganz Cooper hit Conor McFadden for a 76-yard touchdown pass.
Garnet Valley (12-0) tied it up, but the Bucks answered with Eli Boehm’s 40-yard touchdown run to give CB West a 13-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
After that it was all Jaguars, as Garnet took a 21-13 lead into halftime and put up 20 unanswered points in the second half.
McFadden ended the evening with four catches for 124 yards. Cooper went 4-for-11 for 124 yards, and Boehm had 16 carries for 106 yards for CB West, which ends the season 9-3.