Monday night football is generally reserved for NFL games, but a little rain and a lot of lightning last Thursday night forced Council Rock North and Hatboro-Horsham to wait an extra four days to finally get their game in.
The wait was worth it for the Indians, who opened the game with a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Dejuan Martin and cruised from there on out in what was a 56-26 win over the visiting Hatters in a non-conference meeting at Council Rock North High's Walt Snyder Stadium on Monday night.
The Indians (3-0, 0-0) followed the opening touchdown with a forced fumble, a 67-yard touchdown run, a blocked punt returned for a touchdown and finally an interception return for a touchdown to go up on Hatboro-Horsham (2-1, 0-0) by 28 points just 10 minutes, 36 seconds into the contest.
"I thought special teams was the key for us tonight,' CR North coach Adam Collachi said. "Our defense is still a work in progress, but we were able to capitalize on other team's mistakes and we got some big plays on defense and on special teams. Those two blocked punts were game-changers and we were able to get big plays tonight and work them to our advantage.'
After the Indians returned the opening kickoff for a score, they went for two points and were successful. On the Hatters' ensuing drive, it took just three plays before Hatboro-Horsham turned the ball over on a fumble and CR North quarterback Brandon McIlwain needed just two plays to take a 67-yard run into the end zone.
On Hatboro-Horsham's next drive, the Hatters attempted to punt, but a flurry of Indians players blocked it and Josh McWilliams returned it 18 yards for a touchdown. Just two plays later and Seth Leuz intercepted a pass and returned it 48 yards for yet another CR North score.
Not even a full quarter into the game and the Indians had forced two turnovers, tallied just one first down and held a 28-0 lead.
"Special teams really hasn't been a problem for us,' Hatboro-Horsham coach Mike Kapusta said. "Not until tonight at least, and it was glaringly obvious that special teams killed us tonight.'
After the Hatters finally got on the scoreboard — a 13-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jack Morris on the first play of the second quarter — the Indians wasted little time with finding the end zone again, as McIlwain hit Martin for a 72-yard touchdown pass and catch. Moments later, McWilliams returned yet another blocked punt for a touchdown, putting the Indians up 42-6.
With the mercy rule being in place for the entire second half, the teams ran out the final 24 minutes without too much excitement.
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The Hatters managed three second-half touchdowns, including a 36-yard run by running back Jeff Panara, as well as scores from Kingsley Nworu and Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Panara led the Hatters with 97 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. He also caught one pass for 11 yards. Morris ran seven times for 28 yards and a score, but had a tough time under center, throwing four interceptions. Fitzpatrick caught a 23-yard scoring passing, while Keith Cameron caught four passes for 20 yards.
"We're going to work with the guys that want to play and want to compete every play,' said Kapusta, who has three days off before his team's next game.
Despite scoring a whopping 56 points, the Indians managed only seven first downs and 210 yards from scrimmage, while the Hatters picked up 292 yards on offense.
"I think the momentum just came from the beginning, but we also lost focus and had to refine it,' Collachi said. "As much as we got momentum, we didn't get into much of a groove on offense and that's what we're trying to do. But that's part of the game and maybe that's who we are. Maybe we're a team that capitalizes off of big plays.'
Hatboro-Horsham 0 6 6 14—26
Council Rock North 28 21 7 0—56
CRN — Martin 99 yard kickoff return (Martin pass from McIlwain)
CRN — McIlwain 67 run (Greenberg kick)
CRN — McWilliams 18 return of blocked punt (kick failed)
CRN — Leuz 48 interception return (Greenberg kick)
HH — Morris 13 run (kick failed)
CRN — Martin 72 pass from McIlwain (Greenberg kick)
CRN — McWilliams 14 return of blocked punt (Greenberg kick)
CRN — Maisel 21 pass from McIlwain (Greenberg kick)
HH — Panara 36 run (pass failed)
CRN — Welde 9 run (Greenberg kick)
HH — Nworu 2 run (Ehrlich kick)
HH — Fitzpatrick 23 pass from Walsh (Ehrlich kick)
H-H CR North
First downs 14 7
Rushing yards 207 84
Passing yards 85 126
Total yards 292 210
Passing 9-17-4 8-10-1
Fumbles-lost 3-1 2-1
Penalties-yards 4-20 3025
Punts-avg. 1-48 1-22
Hatboro-Horsham: Panara 15-97, TD; Morris 7-28, TD; Fitzpatrick 2-21; Nworu 8-63, TD; Mason 3-5; Z. Tuerke 4-7; M. Tuerke 1-(-3); O'Malley 1-(-9).
Council Rock North: McIlwain 2-8; Yoder 1-17; Welde 6-42, TD; Mackin 2-19; Berlin 4-3; Le 1-1; Arenz 1-(-2).
Hatboro-Horsham: Morris 7-14-4, 46; Walsh 2-2-0, 29, TD.
Council Rock North: McIlwain 6-8-1, 105, 2 TD; Maisel 2-2-0, 21.
Hatboro-Horsham: Cameron 4-20; O'Malley 1-9; Canselo 1-6; Panara 1-11; Fitzpatrick 1-23, TD; Mason 1-6.
Council Rock North: Martin 2-66, TD; Chandlee 1-3; Bibbens 1-20; Cohen 1-8; Maisel 1-21, TD; Berlin 1-1; Cabo 1-7.
Council Rock North: Burschlag 2, Leuz, Closser.
Council Rock North: None.
Follow Mike Prince on Twitter @mike_prince21