East Pennsboro tops Northern, wins Mid Penn Colonial title
Northern York's final, last-stab on offense came in the form of an incomplete pass. It sailed high, way over any receivers' heads, causing the Polar Bears' two receivers near the sideline to snap their heads back to look at the line of scrimmage.
They could see Northern quarterback Curtis Robison pulling himself up off the ground — again.
East Pennsboro's relentless play at the line had suffocated Northern's offense, creating five tackles for loss — including three sacks. But it didn't just star on defense. East Pennsboro's big boys up front powered feature back Onasis Neely to a 142-yard rushing performance. And the Panthers did as they pleased for the majority of their 28-7 victory against Northern at Robert F. Bostic Field in Dillsburg, running away with the Mid Penn Colonial Division championship.
"They're champions, and they earned it tonight," Northern York coach Greg Bowman said.
It marked Northern's only loss in division play this season.
"The line really dominated the game for us," Neely said. "We won it on the field because of our line."
With a goal or breaking 1,000 yards on the season, Neely carried the ball 23 times for 142 yards. His lone miscue came on his last carry, when he couldn't handle a high pitch from quarterback Kyle Purnell and fumbled in the final minutes. It didn't dim what the Panthers (8-2, 6-0 Mid Penn Colonial Division) accomplished, rushing for 202 yards and averaging nearly 5 yards per carry.
"We found something that worked, it was our running game," Purnell said. "Our running backs did amazing, our line made holes for everyone, it just fell into place."
Playing without one of their starting linemen, Zach Umholtz, because of injury, East Pennsboro found a way to make it work.
"They wanted this," Purnell said about the title and the win in the regular-season finale. "They got it."
Northern (7-3, 5-1) looked like it snapped out of its first-half funk with the first possession of the third quarter. The Polar Bears marched 85 yards on 16 plays, handing the ball off to senior captain Michael Kearney 10 times on the drive. It worked, pulling Northern within 21-7 with 3:44 to play.
But after another third-quarter drive sputtered out at midfield with a sack on a fourth-down play, East Pennsboro took over.
Neely ran the ball on six of East Pennsboro's next eight plays to wrap up the title with a fourth-quarter score to make it 28-7 with 7:55 to play in the game.
"They have a high-powered offense," Northern's Bowman said. "And they've played a lot of good football on both sides of the ball, really. ... Defensively we couldn't stop them, offensively we couldn't move the ball as much as we would have liked. ..."
Northern, however, will keep playing. After winning just three games in each of the last two seasons, the Polar Bears are headed back to the District 3 playoffs.
"I'm extremely proud of what we accomplished here in the regular season," Bowman said. "To finish at 7-3 after a couple years that this program was down a little bit, I think it's something we can all be proud of. And hopefully I can keep their heads on straight, and we can do some things in the playoffs."
East Pennsboro71407—28Northern York0070—7
EP — Kyle Purnell 3 run (Noah Wilk kick), 4:59.
EP — Ky Dennis 1 run (Wilk kick), 8:30.
EP — Zach Wertz 16 pass from Purnell (Wilk kick), 2:18.
Nor — Michael Kearney 2 run (Aidan Alves kick), 3:44.
EP — Onasis Neely 2 run (Wilk kick), 7:55.
EP NorFirst downs167Rushes-Yards202128Passing7-11-011-17-0Passing Yards7172Total Yards273200Punts3-28.31-26Fumbles-Lost1-11-1Penalties-Yards3-200-0
Rushing — EP, Neely 23-142, Dennis 10-33, Purnell 7-15, Matthew Danner 2-12. Nor, M. Kearney 16-77, Bobby Shelly 8-35, Curtis Robison 7-11, John Kearney 1-5.
Passing — EP, Purnell 7-11-0-71. Nor, Robison 11-17-0-72.
Receiving — EP, Wertz 2-27, Matthew Dunkelberger 1-11, Neely 2-11, Dennis 1-10, Justin Gieseler 1-9. Nor, Jake Cromer 4-19, Justin Markle 2-16, Joey Razzano 1-13, Shelly 1-12, J. Kearney 2-9, Jared Sutch 1-3.