By: Brian Fees | Towanda Daily Review | October 22, 2006
TOWANDA - It's little surprise that when North Penn needed a big play it would be senior Riley Bowen who would deliver.
Bowen is the league's leading rusher and is among the top offensive players in the area. However, with the game on the line in overtime on Saturday night it was on the defensive end where Bowen made his mark.
The Panthers senior jumped in front off a Jake Lamphere pass in overtime to seal the Panthers' 21-14 victory over the Black Knights.
"The coaches talked to us all week about it and I knew that it was coming," Bowen said. "I was just able to time in and get in front of the ball."
All game long it was the defenses which took center state at Memorial Stadium as the two teams combined for just 337 yards in the game.
"This was a huge win," North Penn coach Tom Dickinson said. "We've still got two games left, but right now it looks like we are in good shape to be the number two seed in playoffs."
"I told the kids last week that after that game we were exactly where we were last year. Last season we had lost to Athens then we lost to Towanda. Today we took a step to improve on last year."
Early on it looked like it was going to be the Black Knights who took control of this game.
Cameron Sullivan took the opening kickoff, made one would-be-tackler miss and took off for a 73-yard kick return to open the game. After Dakota Roof's extra point the Black Knights led 7-0 just 15 seconds into the game.
After that it was miscues on Towanda's part which led to North Penn's points.
The Black Knights had a backwards lateral at their three-yard-line which the Panthers recovered and after quarterback Justin Harris ran it in from a yard out the game was tied with 7:36 left in the first quarter.
In the second quarter Towanda forced a North Penn punt, but the Black Knights fumbled the return and North Penn recovered. Levi Weiskopff capped the Panthers' drive as he ran in from five-yards out to give the Panthers a 14-0 lead after Chris Morales' kick with 8:06 left in the half.
The Black Knights refused to quit and in the fourth quarter Eric Potter capped an 11-play, 52-yard drive with a one-yard run to tie the game with 10:16 remaining.
"I'm proud of the team," Towanda coach Craig Dawsey said. "North Penn is a real good football team. We made some mistakes, but we played well in the second half and we really responded well."
The Black Knights had a chance to win the game in the final minutes, but a Potter half-back option pass to R.J. Baker fell incomplete as he couldn't control it before hitting the ground.
Towanda saw another scoring opportunity fall away as Potter broke off a 17-yard run on fourth-and-two with two minutes remaining, but a penalty brought the play back and the Black Knights were forced to punt it away.
In overtime each team got a possession at the 10-yard line. North Penn wasted little time finding the end zone. After a one-yard run by Bowen, Harris took off on a keeper and broke free for a nine-yard score.
Towanda got the ball, but after two plays netted just three yards, a five-yard penalty set the Black Knights back to third down at the 12.
"The defense did a great job," Dickinson said. "They made the plays when they had to. They really stopped Towanda there and Justin had a great run."
"Riley just made a great play after we had held them and forced them into that position."
Forced to air it out, Lamphere rolled to his left and fired toward the endzone where Bowen came away with the interception at the the three-yard-line.
"This was an extremely important win," Bowen said. "It's important to improve on last year. It helps so much, it gives us so much confidence."
Despite the loss Dawsey believes his team played a strong game.
"They did a great job defensively on Weiskopff and Bowen who are both great backs," Dawsey said. "We played as well as we could. We made some mistakes, but so did they. It was a great game."
Bowen finished with 82 yards on 17 carries, while Weiskopff had 71 yards on 20 carries and Harris had nine carries for 38 yards. Bowen also had two catches for 28 yards in the win.
For Towanda, Potter had 16 carries for 81 yards and Adam Harris had eight carries for 26 yards.