North Penn-Mansfield rolls past CMVT.

By: Matt Beltz | Towanda Daily Review | September 6, 2015

 

SOUTH CENTRE TWP - Though anyone can predict how young and previously untested players might react once they get their first extended varsity action, the truth is, no one really knows until those games are played.

Throw in a near two-hour bus trip on a Saturday morning and hot and humid conditions as another wild card and that's what North Penn-Mansfield was facing in its season opener at Columbia-Montour Vo-Tech.

But none of those things proved to be an obstacle to North Penn, as the Panthers' no-huddle offense picked right up where it left off last season, albeit with lots of new faces operating it, as the Panthers topped CMVT 44-6. Three touchdowns in the final 5:47 of the second quarter broke open what was just an eight-point game and North Penn never looked back.

"With a two-hour trip on a hot day, we have to be happy with the win," said North Penn coach Tom Dickinson. "There are things we saw that we need to work on and at a lot of times we weren't crisp but we are pleased with the outcome. There are lots of sophomores and juniors on that field so this is a good first game to get under their belt and next week we need to look to continue to improve."

Brock Burleigh, in his first game as starting quarterback, threw for 323 yards and five touchdowns and completed 12-of-17 passes. Nine different receivers caught passes for the Panthers, led by Joel Whitteker, whose four catches went for 158 yards and three touchdowns. Garrett Bickhart also caught four passes for 137 and a score and Nick Kasper also had a touchdown reception for 25 yards. North Penn ran just 36 offensive plays compared to 56 for CMVT but was far more efficient as it gained over 11 yards per play compared to just 3.5 for CMVT.

"We didn't run the ball as well as I'd like so we need to look at what they were doing and take care of that but our objective is to spread the ball around to different guys so they can't key in on one guy and Brock spread it around pretty well," said Dickinson.

The game started with both teams trading fumbles before North Penn hit its first big play of the afternoon when Bickhart got behind the CMVT secondary and Burleigh found him for an 86-yard gain. Only an outstanding effort by CMVT defensive back John Binder prevented a touchdown, but Brad Pequignot ran it in from five yards out on the next play from scrimmage to draw first blood.

Two possessions later, after beginning at the CMVT 35, North Penn needed just one play to take a two-touchdown lead as Burleigh hit Bickhart for the score.

North Penn's next drive stalled at the CMVT 20, and from there, the Rams embarked on a 10-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in their only score of the game, a three-yard touchdown run by Nicolas Williamoski to cut the Panther lead to 14-6.

That would be a short-lived deficit, however, as North Penn ran just six plays in the remainder of the half and scored on three of them. On the ensuing play from scrimmage, Burleigh hit Whitteker for a 57-yard score and the first of three touchdown receptions on the afternoon. CMVT then went three-and-out and Carroll returned CMVT's punt 38 yards to the CMVT 18. On the second play from scrimmage of the drive, Burleigh hit Whitteker for another score. After another three-and-out by the Rams, the Panthers got a 23-yard run from Sean Giles on second down and then Burleigh hit Nick Kasper from 25 yards out to put North Penn on top 36-6.

Burleigh threw his fifth touchdown pass of the afternoon on North Penn's first possession of the second half, this time hitting Whitteker again from 56 yards out about midway through the third quarter. From there, the Panthers played mostly their second string for the rest of the contest.