Strath Haven Claims 14th Consecutive Media Bowl Over Penncrest
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Willie McGonigle | September 15, 2023
WALLINGFORD: The Strath Haven Panthers and Penncrest Lions have been playing each other since 1983. And the the rivalry has mostly gone in the favor of the Panthers who entering Thursday’s nights edition of the Media Bowl the Panthers were victorious in the last 13 and had won 36 of the 40 meetings overall. It took a trio of rushing touchdowns by James Fisher and pair of fourth quarter defensive stops, but the Panthers extended their streak to 14 in a row with a nail-biting 20-14 victory at George L King Field over the visiting Lions.
A mere 5.5 miles separates the two schools and most of their players grew up playing various sports on the same teams so understandably there’s friendships between the two teams but Thursday night that didn’t matter. “We’ve got friends on that sideline but when it comes to the game it’s a rivalry and and we go out there and battle.” Said Panthers DE Jahi Curtis who had the sack to preserve the Panthers victory.
After forcing the Lions to a turnover on downs on the games opening drive Panthers took over at the Lions 47-yard line and six plays later Fisher found the end zone for the first time giving the Panthers the early 7-0 lead.
Fisher showed off his speed and tackle breaking ability to extend the Panthers lead to 14-0 when he slipped a few tacklers and raced 63 yards for his second touchdown of the day. The Lions responded on their ensuing drive going 69 yards on 15 plays when QB Paul Graham filling in for an injured Nico Tozzi sneaked his way in from a yard out cutting the lead down to 14-7 with under a minute left in the first half.
Any momentum that the Lions had was short-lived has the Panthers needed all of five plays to go 65-yards including a 45 yard pass from Jake Kitchin to Fisher which put the Panthers at the Lion two yard-line. Two plays later Fisher found pay dirt for his third touchdown of the day giving the Panthers the 20-7 halftime lead.
The Lions came out ready to take momentum back to start the second forcing the Panthers to a quick three and out before going a 15 play 63 yard drive with all of it coming on ground led by Matt Ferry and Matt Malley but it was Graham that capped the drive with his second score of the game from two yards out to cut the lead to 20-14.
From that point both teams defenses took over and shined. Ben Kauffman led the Lions defense and the Panthers defense stepped up when they needed it the most. With the Lions driving and facing a fourth and two from the Panther 43, the Panthers defense stopped Malley just inches short to preserve the lead with 4:20 to go. The Lions defense forces to Panthers to go three plays and punt setting them up for a potential game winning drive starting at their own 13 with 1:55 to play but the Lions offense couldn’t get anything going with it and on Fourth down Curtis got to Graham and brought him down for a sack. From there the Panthers took a knee and walked victorious
“When the team needed me I just tried and stepped up, my teammates held the receivers gave me a lot of time to go back and sack the quarterback.” Curtis said.
Next week the Panthers (3-0) will look to remain unbeaten when they travel to Upper Darby while the Lions will look to snap a two game losing skid when they travel to Haverford.
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