By: Terry Pruyne | Towanda Daily Review | November 12, 2011
BLOSSBURG - With the snow falling and temperatures dropping, North Penn turned up the heat on Hughesville and did the Island Park thing. While other local teams failed to win or even score, the Panthers lit up the scoreboard with 48-21 win over Hughesville to advance to the Eastern Conference finals.
Marquis "Petey" Delgado got things going for North Penn the moment he touched the ball on the opening kickoff as he burned down the home sideline and cut across the field, scorching Hughesville on a 80-yard kickoff return just 14 seconds into the game for a 6-0 lead.
"Petey set the tone," said Panther coach Tom Dickinson.
After holding the Spartans to four yards on their first possession, Delgado and the Panthers picked up where they left off. On the first play from scrimmage, Jason DeHaven hit Delgado on a short pass, but Delgado juked his way down the sideline for 21 yards. After two runs by Skye Stiner for 13 total yards, DeHaven hit Logan Wise on a dump off pass, but Wise plowed down the sideline for a 30-yard score. DeHaven then hit Delgado for the two-point conversion.
Hughesville looked like they would rebound from the 14-0 deficit as they moved downfield on the legs of Sam Hunter, who reeled off back-to-back runs of 12 and 14 yards. However, just inside the 20, the Spartans faced a fourth-and-three and went for it, but Nick Harer met Quinten Cooper in the backfield for a yard loss and the Panthers took over on downs.
Once again, Delgado set the tone with a 38 yard run on the first play from scrimmage. Then DeHaven passed to Degado for 8 more yards and hit Wise for 13 more. After Stiner gained a yard up the middle, Delgado took the following handoff and picked his way down the sideline for a score and a 20-0 lead.
The Panther defense forced a punt and North Penn took over on their 37. Three plays later they faced a fourth-and-three and set up to punt, but the quarter ended. When the team set up after the break, the Panther were going for it and Stiner dragged tacklers for a 6-yard gain.
The play fired up North Penn even more. DeHaven found Delgado open for a 14-yard gain and later, on a fourth-and-nine, threw a laser to Taylor Hillman, who leapt and came down with the pass and advanced to the ten. A facemask call on the play brought the ball to the four.
On the next play, DeHaven checked off at the line when he noticed Wise was uncovered in the slot. He faked the handoff to Stiner and hit Wise, who walked into the endzone. DeHaven rolled out and sprinted to the sideline, diving just inside the pylon for the two-point conversion.
After the team exchanged possessions, Hughesville faced another fourth-and-three. This time at the Panther forty. Once again, the defense stepped up and swarmed over Connor Cosentine, led by Kurt Hiller, for a 4-yard loss.
Taking over on downs, North Penn wasted away little time as Stiner took the handoff and raced 46 yards for a touchdown and a 34-0.
On Hughesville's next possession, DeHaven picked off Justin Lambert's pass on the third down and the Panthers took over at the Spartans' 39-yard line. After runs of 11 and 9 yards, Steiner drove 18 yards, running over and dragging tacklers, for North Penn final score of the half. Max Colegrove added the extra point for a 42-0 lead.
"I don't want to hex ourselves," Dickinson said. "That's the third straight week that we've had a nearly perfect first half. DeHaven ran the offense the way it is supposed to be run."
DeHaven finished the half completing 7 of 8 passes for 102 yards, but DeHaven would have more endzone time in the second half.
On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Dylan Pequinot fumbled after a 7-yard gain. DeHaven raced from his safety position, scooped up the ball, and raced 53 yard for North Penn's final score and a 48-0 lead.
Hughesville added three touchdowns in the second half; the first coming on 3-yard run by Lambert. Nick McComick scored the second touchdown from a yard out. After a safety when the Spartans tackled Bryce Zaparzynski in the endzone, Eric Hiller raced in from nine yards.
"Three weeks ago, we talked about a four-week run and run for a championship." Dickinson added, "This is the team we thought would be here each week."
During the game, Stiner became North Penn's all-time leading rusher, passing Riley Bowen.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thinking about it," Stiner said, who needed 71 yards to eclipse the mark and ended the game with 95 yards - all in the first half. "I owe it to my offensive line and my football family, especially my dad, for the support."
Stiner had sympathy for Hughesville and the other players who ended their high school careers tonight.
"I feel bad for those walking off the field for the last time," he said, "but that's the way it goes and we have one more game."