By: Terry Pruyne | Towanda Daily Review | October 17, 2015 | Photo courtesy Terry Pruyne
BLOSSBURG — With most expecting a high-scoring affair at Jones Memorial Field, the defenses showed only to quiet the offensive fireworks in the fourth quarter in North Penn’s 30-20 win over Troy.
The Tigers got off to a rough start as they failed to cover the opening kickoff and the Trojans took over on the 20-yard line; however, Troy failed to capitalize on the error and turned the ball over on downs.
After forcing North Penn to punt, Troy relied on Ben Sherman, who gained 48 yards on five carries before Clark Jackson faked a handoff to Sherman and slithered through the line 12 yards and a touchdown. Collin Binford added the extra point with 3:07 left in the first quarter.
On the first play of the next series Brock Burleigh threw an interception to Troy's Alex Butcher. The North Penn defense came up big by bringing Jackson down for losses on three consecutive plays of two, five, and nine yards, and forcing a punt.
After two failed series, Troy took over on their 20 and moved downfield with a backfield by committee with five different runners carrying the ball. Jackson scored again, this time from 38 yards as he wiggled and shook off tackles along the Troy sideline. The Tigers blocked the extra point for a 13-0 lead.
With 32 seconds left in the half, Binford took the handoff, but never really had control and bobbled the ball. Bradley Pequignot grabbed the ball in midair and raced 21 yards for the score to narrow Troy’s 13-6 halftime lead.
Troy came out in the second half and marched down field behind runs by Sherman and Jackson. Sherman capped the drive with a 1-yard run midway through the third quarter.
On their second series of the half, North Penn need just one play to carve into Troy's lead — a 51-yard strike from Burleigh to Garrett Bickard.
On their next series, the Tigers were forced to punt, but Mason Gee unloaded a 65-yard kick that landed on the Troy 6-yard line. After the Trojans fumbled two consecutive snaps — a problem they had all night — they punted and North Penn took over on Troy's 29-yard line.
After a nine-yard gain on a Bickard reception, Pequignot picked up 12 yards to the 6, but a deadball personal foul on the Tigers moved the ball back to the 21. Undaunted, Burleigh hit Joel Whitteker for a 16-yard gain to the 5. After an incompletion and facing fourth-and-goal, Burleigh scrambled in desperation before finding Pequignot in the end zone to narrow the Troy lead to 20-18 with 10 minutes left in the game.
On the ensuing series, Troy fumbled another exchange and then Cody Ercolino loss six yards on a pitch from Jackson forcing the Trojans to punt.
Once again, North Penn only needed one play as Burleigh threw deep to Whitteker for 49 yards with 7:45 left for a 24-20 lead.
The Panthers' defense stopped Troy when Pequignot sacked Jackson for seven yards on third down, forcing a punt.
Taking over on their own 31, North Penn needed two plays to keep the fireworks going. After an incompletion, Burleigh found Brendan Hill rocketing along the home sideline for a 69-yard touchdown with 5:13 left.
Jackson was not about to let Troy go quietly into the good night. On the first play of their next possession, he raced 53 yards before being hauled down at the North Penn 7. However, Jackson fumbled the next snap. After Sherman's three-yard gain, Ercolino lost five yards on a pitch. Needing two scores to tie the game, Binford set up for a 29-yard field goal. He had enough leg, but the ball sailed wide.
The Panthers then handed the ball off to Pequignot to run out the final three and a half minutes to ice the game.
Burleigh finished the game going 15-of-28 for 271 yards and four touchdowns with all four touchdowns coming in the second half.
Jackson led the Trojans with touchdown runs of 12 and 38 yards and adding a 53-yard scamper. Sherman added 115 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown.