TOWAMENCIN — First came the bat, then came the bomb.
Nick Wright's two big plays in the third quarter — one on defense and one on offense — helped tilt control to the Knights in their 40-19 victory over upset-minded Perkiomen Valley Friday night.
After North Penn drove to tie the game 19-19 on its first series of the third quarter, the Knights' defense faced it biggest test of the night.
Perk Valley's spread formation had been untoppable in the second quarter, scoring touchdowns on both of its possessions and operating nearly flawlessly in doing so.
But the third quarter would be far different.
On first down of that pivotal defensive stop, Zach Brandis drilled Dakota Clanagan just after the ball arrived, forcing an incompletion and bringing up 2nd-and-10.
Kevin Vandenplas then punctured the Perk Valley pass pocket, wrapping up the elusive Rasaan Stewart and bringing him down to the soggy Crawford Stadium turf for a five-yard loss.
It was 3rd-and-15 with the crowd roaring. Enter Wright.
The Knights' versatile two-way player batted down a Stewart pass, preventing him from connecting for a key first down and stopping Perk Valley deep in its own end. It was the first time the Vikings were held to a three-and-out all evening long in this rainy District One Class AAAA Semifinal at North Penn.
"We watched film on them,' Wright said, "and they have a lot of crosses in the middle. I was able to just stay in the middle there and batted down the pass. (That defensive series) huge, huge. Our offense was non-stop, kept getting first downs, and we knew we just had to get strong on defense and stop them.'
With the momentum from that key stop providing even more steam for its overpowering running game, North Penn drove for the go-ahead score on its ensuing drive and would not relinquish the lead.
After a fourth-down stand at its own 32, North Penn had a chance to put Perk Valley away, and it was Wright who powered over the goal line for the clinching points.
Off of play action, quarterback Austin Shearer dropped back, threw a perfect strike to Wright downfield, and the senior was able to evade one defender and then step out of a tackle, somehow maintaining his balance just before his knee hit and then sprinting the remaining 20 yards for the score.
"Austin Shearer threw a heck of a ball,' Wright said. "I just caught it and did what I had to do and scored. I had my hand on the ground (to keep my balance), and I was like ' I can get it, I can get it.''
North Penn was ahead 33-19, and the celebration would soon begin.
"We're really excited to go to the district final,' Wright said. "We started off slow this year and now we can show people what we really are.'
Follow Kev Hunter on Twitter @khunter10.